Most of us will have been left puzzled by a nightmare that seemingly came out of nowhere, and scramble to decode the reasoning behind it.
A psychologist has revealed the potential meanings behind the top six disturbing dreams that leave us waking in a panic.
Psychologist Lee Chambers and fear and relief expert Lauren Rosenberg, in collaboration with MattressNextDay, analysed some of the most mentioned dream queries and UK search volumes over the past 12 months.
They discovered nightmares about teeth falling out are the most common among Britons and have risen 50 per cent in the last year, with the nightmare often signifying intense stress.
Elsewhere, dreams featuring ghosts have increased the most for six out of the 20 cities investigated, which is thought to be a subconscious expression of grief, loss and pain.
The Daily Mail reveals the top ten nightmares and what they really mean, according to the experts:
1. Teeth falling out
Nightmares about teeth falling out are the most common amongst Britons and have risen 50 per cent in the last year, according to the study.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Lee suggests it is often a sign of psychological stress and is likely a signal to look after your overall health and well-being.
‘If you are grieving, under intense stress, significantly worried about major life changes or neglecting your own health, this dream can be extremely common,’ he added.
‘While it is scary in the moment, it is likely a signal to look at your overall health and well-being.’
2. Being chased
If you’re being chased in your dream, you are said to be encountering some frustration or challenge to your pursuit of a particular fulfilment in your waking life.
The key to understanding the meaning behind this type of nightmare is to focus on who or what is chasing you, according to the experts.
Some experts believe being chased by an animal indicates there is an instinctive impulse that you are finding hard to contain in waking life, while a monster pursuing you reflects a skill or challenge you are struggling to master.
Lee added: ‘It is so often a signal that we are choosing to flight, rather than fight, and looking at why can help us understand.’
Dreaming that you are drowning suggests that there is a situation in your waking life where you feel you are losing yourself in some way, the experts claim.
Being under the water symbolises your thoughts are being overwhelmed, possibly by work, a relationship issue or stress, and you believe you can’t handle the problem.
Around 1,900 people each month, on average, look for the meaning behind this nightmare online and searches have increased 26 per cent this year.
4. Being naked in public
‘Dreaming of being naked in public can be unpleasant, and often means you haven’t been ready for something that’s happened in life, and the lack of preparedness literally leaves you feeling exposed’, Lee said.
‘It can also show that we are overly worried about what people think of us. But how you react is really key. Are you embarrassed or ashamed? Or do you feel free and that you’re breaking the rules and expressing yourself?
It could also signal you’re are hiding something, or that you are lacking in confidence to reach your ambitions, and can often come with the feeling of being shown up.’
5. Dreaming about death
Nightmares about death possibly show you are entering or leaving an uncertain time in your life.
‘While these can be frightening, they’re also an opportunity for growth and taking a look at what’s going on in your waking life,’ the experts said.
It often suggests the end of an aspect of your life – such as a relationship or a job and can also signal that you want part of your life to change.
Another common nightmare is falling – and this can suggest that you are losing yourself in some area of your waking life, according to Lee.
He added: ‘It is normally considered to be a sign of holding onto a situation too tightly in life, or feeling like you are losing control of something that you value.
‘While these are two of the most cited scenarios that lead to dreams of falling, along with feeling overwhelmed by life, it is important to remember that there is no one size fits all dream meaning guide.’