Recurring Dreams: Why We Experience the Same Dreams Over and Over

Are you having recurring dreams and don’t know why? Explore why we experience the same dreams over and over again in this expansive article.


Have you ever had the same dream over and over again, but you can’t figure out why? Recurring dreams are common for everyone – whether you’re dreaming about falling or having the happiest day of your life. But why do we experience the same dreams over and over again? After conducting some research, we have found the answer. And we’re ready to share it with you.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why we have recurring dreams according to experts in the field, as well as what are the most common dreams and what they may mean. We’ll discuss the latest findings so that you can better understand your dreams – no matter what they may be. 

Why Do We Have Recurring Dreams?

It’s an age-old question, and honestly, there are many reasons why we have recurring dreams. Over 60% of Americans, have recurring dreams. It’s also much more likely that women experience recurring dreams as compared to men. Due to the amount of people who experience recurring dreams, many researchers have tried to identify exactly why this happens.

Unmet Needs Lead to Recurring Dreams

Some studies have proposed that people have recurring dreams because there are unmet needs in their lives. For example, if you dream about winning the lottery, you may not just want a lot of money and stability, but you might feel unsatisfied. 

Another example is if you dream about doing the same task over and over again but experience little momentum. Studies show that you may find yourself unsatisfied and frustrated with life, leading to your brain showing you the same images, potentially until you meet that need.

Frustration is almost always associated with negative dreams, according to researchers, while satisfaction is commonly associated with positive dreams. This only makes sense, but other researchers have different ideas for why we experience recurring dreams. 

Trauma or Memory Loss Cause Recurring Dreams

Some experts believe that we may have the same dreams because of brain problems, such as memory loss, dementia, or even trauma. If you struggle with traumatic situations and experience the same negative dreams, this might be your brain’s way of trying to process what happened.

A study conducted at a women’s prison in Wisconsin wanted to see people’s traumatic dreams with more clarity, so they asked questions about their dreams, if they had a traumatic event, and how frequent some of their dreams were. The results showed that nearly half of them had more than six traumatic incidents in their lives and had regularly recurring nightmares, many of them experiencing PTSD symptoms, too. Clearly, trauma plays quite a role in whether or not people have recurring dreams!

Further proof of this has been found in historical studies of those who endured significant trauma, like Holocaust victims. Their dreams are recurring in some instances and also hard to decipher, almost as if their unconscious brain is trying to make sense of it, too. It would seem that trauma plays an important role in whether or not people have recurring dreams, but others have a plainer explanation for explanation.

The Brain Has to Recycle Certain Dreams

Other scholars have found a more basic explanation for why recurring dreams happen: the brain can only use so many images and themes. In reality, experts have stated that the brain can only reuse and recycle so many images or themes until something new is presented before you in your mind. 

It’s a fascinating idea and one that does show some limitations to the brain. Even then, this idea is not widely accepted, so it is more likely that it may be a matter of unmet needs or even situations in our lives that we continue to work through – even unconsciously. 

The Most Common Recurring Dreams

There are several common recurring dreams, even across cultures. Whether or not you believe your dreams to be random, they may be quite similar to others. For example, some of the most common dreams include falling, flying, car crashes, not being able to sleep, school, and even situations at work. As expected, not all recurring dreams are positive. Falling, car crashes, and poor situations at work or in school can be negative experiences for sleepers, especially if they have had trauma in their lives.

What These Dreams Mean

Studies have shown that people who are more likely to recall their dreams with vivid descriptions may be more interested in sleep and identifying themes in their dreams. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t themes to people’s dreams, or rather deeper meaning behind them. Many studies have shown that the most common dreams have rather interesting interpretations.

For instance, if you are dreaming of falling, you could be fearful in real life. You may be scared to fail an exam, so you dream of falling. Others may dream about being naked in public, which could indicate that you are worried about being vulnerable with others. Here, your nakedness is a symbol of your vulnerability and sharing the truth with the world. 

For others, being chased could suggest a desire to escape your thoughts, desires, or fears. How many times have you dreamed of being chased by someone or something, only to wake up feeling dreadful about something else in your life? Others have even dreamed about losing teeth, which studies show could be about your worries regarding attractiveness or the ability to communicate with others.  

As you can see, dreams – no matter how random they may feel – all have a potential interpretation that only adds meaning to them, especially if they are recurring. 

Keep Track of Your Dreams and Improve Your Sleep Health

Understanding your dreams, especially if they are recurring, is critical and often misunderstood. With all the insights provided, you have a greater understanding of why we have recurring dreams, what some of them mean, and how they can impact our lives. If you want to improve your sleep health and better understand your dreams, try Pillow today to enhance your insights and your overall health.  


Written by

Marie Soukup

Marie Soukup is a seasoned copywriter, editor, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach with a certificate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). With years of experience working with brands across diverse industries, Marie is passionate about holistic health and crafting compelling content.

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