21 Surprising Things Your Dreams Reveal About You

Bring 'em on, Mr. Sandman.

How creative you are


Creative people are more likely to dream about unusual settings (rather than home or work) and about obstacles in the natural world, such as a log or a rock they can’t get around. These are 10 proven ways to boost creative thinking.

Your political views


Self-described conservatives are more likely to have mundane, realistic dreams, while liberals have more bizarre dreams. Does that mean liberals are more open-minded? Or that they’re caught up in their own fantasies? Take your pick. Here's what your house says about your political affiliation.

That you've got a heart problem


People who have frequent nightmares may be significantly more likely to suffer from an irregular heartbeat or chest pain compared with those who don’t have them, found a study of older adults. That may be because heart problems can make it more difficult to breathe at night.

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If you're avoiding something


Do you dream about being pursued by a stranger, a monster, or a giant tidal wave? This could indicate that you’re afraid to deal with something in your waking life. Ask yourself what issue, person, or emotion you’re not confronting.

How fast you'll bounce back from your divorce


Divorced people who have longer, more dramatic dreams about the old relationship are more likely to adjust better to being single. Dreams may help divorced folks (and the rest of us) work through trauma. Here's how you can tell if your marriage might be headed for divorce.

How you pursue the big answers


Adults who attend church frequently may recall fewer dreams than those who don’t attend worship services regularly. If you’re not relying on religion to answer big life questions, then your dreams may become a resource for insight.

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That you may have sleep apnea


If you have terrible dreams about drowning, choking, or suffocation, you could have sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing for seconds at a time while asleep. One study found that those kinds of nightmares disappeared in 91 percent of patients with sleep apnea after they were treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Consider these home remedies for sleep apnea too.

That you're a workaholic


Type A personalities tend to report more disturbing dreams than laid-back folks. Hard-driving types put more pressure on themselves, and that stress can appear in dreams. These are signs stress is making you sick.

If you'll ace a test


College students spent an hour learning how to navigate a complex maze. When tested later, the only students whose performance improved were those who had dreamed about the maze during a nap. Dreaming may consolidate memories, which boosts learning and problem-solving skills.

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Whether you'll give up smoking for good

iStock/Robert Herhold

One study found that the more you dream about smoking—and experience the guilt associated with falling off the wagon (even a phantom wagon)—the more likely you may be to quit.

Your risk of Parkinson's


Up to 90 percent of people who act out violent dreams—by punching, kicking, or yelling while asleep—may eventually develop Parkinson’s disease. The behavior may indicate REM sleep behavior disorder, an early sign of the disease.

How easy your labor and delivery will be


Pregnant women who dream about labor shorten their birth experiences by an hour, according to research. Experts believe dreaming about labor helps the women anticipate and emotionally prepare for it, so they are able to relax and have easier deliveries in real life.

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Whether you're depressed...


Depressed people start dreaming much sooner than others, as early as 45 minutes after falling asleep, rather than the usual 90 minutes. These are other warning signs of depression.

... And if you should see a therapist


Recurrent or repeated nightmares that keep you from sleeping are another hallmark sign of anxiety or depression. If your nightmares surge after a disturbing event, the trauma may be too big for your brain to psychologically digest. A sleep therapist or psychologist can help.

What medications you're taking


Many drugs are known to cause bad dreams, including antidepressants, antibiotics, statins, and some antihistamines.

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Death may be near

iStock/Nadya Lukic

The closer a person is to passing, the more likely he or she is to dream about loved ones who’ve passed on.

How likely you are to fight with your spouse


Did you dream about your partner’s infidelity? You just increased the chances that you’re going to argue with him or her the next day, according to a University of Maryland study. Having a “sex” dream, on the other hand, boosts feelings of love and intimacy.

If you're about to have a migraine


One study of 37 migraine sufferers found that patients often have bad dreams that involve themes of anger and aggression before a migraine comes on. One theory is if the headache develops at night, the pain may trigger the nightmare.

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If you're out of tune with your emotions


Many researchers believe dreams—especially nightmares—are your brain’s way of making sense of your experiences. If a dream reoccurs and does not change much over time, it could be a sign you’re having trouble dealing with something emotionally. To resolve those issues, consider how the dream made you feel and which real-life circumstances might be prompting those emotions in you.

What kind of problem solver you are


Those who are recognize that they’re asleep while they’re dreaming (called lucid dreamers) are 25 percent better at solving problems compared to non-lucid dreamers, according to a study published in the journal Dreaming. Researchers speculate that if you’re insightful enough to realize that you’re dreaming while asleep, then that may translate into better insight for solving problems while you’re awake.

Who you're closest to


The people you have the strongest relationships with appear most frequently in your dreams, researchers have found. “Your dreams are a very accurate mirror of your emotional relationships,” says psychologist Kelly Bulkeley, PhD. “So when I’m analyzing your dreams, and you dream most often of your father, I can predict that you are closer emotionally to your father and that’s highly likely to be accurate.” Sources: Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a psychologist specializing in dream research; Michael Howell, MD, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota; Stephanie Silberman, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Rosalind Cartwright, PhD, author of The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives; Veronica Tonay, PhD, author of The Creative Dreamer: Using Your Dreams to Unlock Your Creativity; Michael Schredl, PhD, of the Central Institute of Mental Health’s sleep laboratory in Mannheim, Germany

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