Water, teeth falling out and being chased: Dreams explained

We've all had to listen while a friend recalls a dream in seemingly pain-staking detail

It's usually fun for the person talking, but not so exciting to listen too - especially if you rarely remember what happens when you slumber.

New research has looked into why some people can recall their dreams so well while others can't and it's all to do with the way the brain works.

A French team led by Perrine Ruby, Inserm Research Fellow at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, found that a section of the brain which processes information is more active in those who remember their dreams. It's thought this might help dreams be encoded, with these people waking around double the amount of others during the night too. Again, this could be linked with brain activity causing the short breaks in sleep.

"This may explain why high dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli, awaken more during sleep, and thus better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers. Indeed the sleeping brain is not capable of memorising new information; it needs to awaken to be able to do that," Perrine said of the study, which appears in journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

It's also thought that those who are more able to remember their nocturnal stories dream more than those who can't.

So now we know why you can, or can't, remember your dreams, but what do they mean? There is a school of thought which believes dreams are a way of dealing with subconscious feelings, so here we look at some of the most common themes.


Most people have experienced this at one in their lives. It's thought this is linked to feelings of being overwhelmed or insecure, so tackling what is getting on top of you should help.

Being chased

This can be a scary experience as it's usually accompanied by a feeling of fear. A common diagnosis is that there is something threatening in your life, whether it's a person or emotion. If there is a person or monster featured in your dream, think about whether they resemble someone in your life.


Everyone has heard of the classic teeth falling out dream, with other versions seeing people open their mouth to find their teeth are loose. It's usually linked to subconscious fears about being attractive and ageing.


Dreams about water are directly linked to our emotions. The chances are those who dream of clear blue Caribbean seas are feeling happier than those who see murky rivers in their sleep.


Cars, planes and trains are all common themes of dreams and symbolise our view on where our life is heading. Think about whether you're in control of your vehicle, if the journey is easy or fraught with obstacles.