Types Of Dreams And How To Remember Them

Dream recall

Everyone dreams each night during a period of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which occurs approximately every 90 minutes. But, if a dream ends before you wake up, you usually won’t remember it. Before you can begin to decipher the types of dreams you have, you need to be able to remember them. This is called dream recall.

So, how can you improve your dream recall? Easy, a dream journal. When you record your dreams on a regular basis, you’ll begin to see themes and patterns over time. You might only recall a dream fragment—just a place, person, or image, or what you were thinking or feeling. That’s OK, write it down, anything helps. And now, that you’ve got some of your strange/scary/confusing dreams written down, take a look at the list below to decipher which type of dream you had . . . and what it means about you.

Lucid dream

The word lucid means “clear,” but a lucid dream is one during which you’re aware that you’re dreaming. However, try as you might, you can’t consciously alter the content or control the action. According to and dream expert Beverly D’Urso, “lucid dreaming is your chance to play around with the extraordinary abilities buried in unused parts of your brain.” You may even be able to practice becoming lucid while dreaming, allowing you to do things you’ve, well, only dreamed of doing.

In a lucid dream, you may fly, or enjoy a delicious piece of chocolate cake without feeling guilty about consuming all those calories, or write and publish a famous novel. Some people have dangerous encounters or experience pain, while others overcome their attackers or save a life.

(And, some say flying in dreams means your mind is working out an issue that feels limiting, either as a manifestation of hope or as an indication that circumstances are hampering your freedom.)

Prodromal dream

Ever have jà vu because you had a dream that forebode an impending disease? That’s a prodromal dreamProdrome is a medical term for an early sign or symptom of a disease before the symptoms develop.

Some people question whether dreams can predict oncoming physical illness, but others acknowledge the mind-body connection. If, for example, you’re getting a cold, your immune system might detect the virus before you get a scratchy throat or begin sneezing, and you might dream about choking. Once you overcome the initial shock of the dream, load up on the vitamin C.

Predictive dream

Predictive dreams, also called prophetic dreams, are those that tell the future—events in the dream happen in real life after the dream has taken place. Joan of Arc discovered the details of her death from a prophetic dream. So, how can you predict your future through your dreams?

Some predictive dreams are explained by current events in your waking life. You might, for instance, dream of waving goodbye to someone who you know is planning a trip in the near future. And, some prophetic dreams are considered warnings because they don’t mirror actual events. If you’re working overtime and not taking care of yourself, you might dream that you’re in the hospital. Don’t take these warnings lightly!

Recurring dream

A recurring dream repeats the same or similar content in more than one dream, usually on different nights. They may be experienced during times of stress or change. Most recurring dreams have negative themes, such as failing a test, being late, or getting chased.

Recurring dreams are connected to unresolved problems. A missing-an-exam dream during college years can reappear before an important interview or evaluation at work later in life. It’s best not to run away from your problems, because they’ll haunt you .  . . for real.

False awakening

A false awakening is a vivid and convincing dream about awakening from sleep. You may dream you’re getting up, having breakfast, getting dressed, heading out for work—all the things you do every day on autopilot. Then, your alarm goes off, and you realize you haven’t actually done any of that . . . time to start over again.

False awakenings are a form of lucid dreaming. According to, the most common reasons for false awakenings surround feelings of anxiety and stress. So, if you are thinking about a big presentation you have going on tomorrow, you may dream about getting ready for it as a way to cope with any worries you’re feeling about your impending public speech.


Most of us are familiar with nightmares—those frightful, unpleasant, disturbing, scary dreams that awaken you and leave you feeling shaken, disturbed, or emotionally drained . . . even when you can’t recall the actual dream. It’s no surprise the term nightmare is also used in waking life to describe a terrifying or very unpleasant experience or prospect. It can even refer to someone who is difficult to deal with.

Back to dreams, a nightmare may mean your subconscious mind is exploring one of your fears, you’re reliving a past traumatic event, or maybe you just watched a scary movie before you went to bed. If your dream journal helps you with dream recall, you may be able to interpret the nightmare imagery, confront the waking cause, and prevent it from recurring.

Healing dreams

Healing dreams are dreams in which something is learned about yourself. While it’s common to forget most dreams upon awakening, healing dreams tend to stick with us.

Healing dreams don’t signify cures. Rather, some people think of them as call-to-action dreams. They provide insights into emotional and spiritual problems and present truths that shouldn’t be ignored. You may, for example, dream that your spouse is having an affair. While that may not be true, it may signal that you feel betrayed in some way. Perhaps, you’re not getting the attention you need. Or, perhaps, you’re feeling guilty because you’re having an affair . . . beware of guilt dreams, too.

Mutual dreaming and meshing dreams

Have you seen the 2010 science fiction movie Inception? It popularized the concept that through technology people can share the same dream world. In reality, mutual dreaming, or the idea that two or more people can share the same dream environment, is fiction.

But, two people can experience meshing dreams, or dreams with similar symbols or themes. If, say, your partner and you watch a scary movie and discuss the story before you go to sleep, you both might dream about a stalker following you down a deserted street. Mesh dreaming can also happen when two people who are close have the same things on their mind, even if a topic or concern hasn’t been openly discussed. But, while the theme may be similar, typically the details of the meshing dream are different.

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