Why do we dream about falling?
We all share the same experience where we feel like we fall in a cliff as we fall asleep. This usually happens a few minutes after we lay on the bed.
Dreaming as if you are falling is one of the most common dreams and one of the most bizarre one. But why do we dream about falling?
There are many attempts to explain dreams. Some believed that the dream of falling reflects some sort of insecurities and anxieties in real life. The anxieties stem from the lack of control over your personal circumstances.
When you’re losing control of some aspects of your life, you tend to drift and fall. In real life, if you lose control over things, failure may manifest making you more vulnerable. Then your sense of pride and self-esteem also starts to dwindle.
The scientific explanation
Throughout the ages, people try to explain the dream of falling. And most of those explanations have no scientific basis. What really happens when you dream of falling?
Some experts believe that the dream of falling is a learned phenomenon from our ape ancestors. Apes naturally reside in the branches of the trees. As they sleep, and when their muscle tone is relaxed, their grip loosens up. As a result, the wind would easily make them fall off the tree.
Throughout evolution, this phenomenon is already encoded in each and every one of us. But this unconscious material only manifests in a dream.
The dream of falling off the cliff usually occurs during the first stage of sleep. At this stage, you experience muscle spasms of your arms and all parts of your body. Experts called this “myoclonic jerks”. This makes you wake up suddenly and become aware of your environment.
A dream like this is fearful. It makes you afraid and disturbs your quiet sleep. Humans are believed to have experienced the falling dream at least five times throughout the life span.
Although there is no single explanation on this phenomenon, some suggest that falling dreams have different types and meanings.
Here are several types of falling dreams:
The loss of balance
If the reason of your falling dream is the loss of balance, this may indicate that some things in your life are out of your control. You are unsure of what to do or how you can make your life stable. This could be due to the lingering problem that has in yourself. To find out how to fix this, you need to look at for the clues. You need to be open and accept what you will find out. And from that point, find ways how to bring back the balance in your life.
Someone pushed you
If your falling dream is caused by someone who pushed you to the edge, it suggests that somebody is pushing you to your limit. That person may be close to you who wants you to do more and achieve more in life. Or, if you don’t see the person, then it might be you pushing yourself to achieve a better version of yourself.
A dream like this could suggest many things. And sometimes, it is your ego or your unconscious mind keeps dictating you what to do. This tendency can create so much stress and emotional burden for you. Your enemy in this instance is not from the outside but from the inside. Unfortunately, this is not easy to resolve. The only person that could reconcile the inner turmoil is you.
You lose grip
This type of falling dream might suggest that in real life, you struggle to find something to depend on. You are not sure where and who to trust. That’s why you are currently on the quest of finding something or someone you can hold on to.
This commonly happens to people who are currently exploring the possibilities in their lives. They are not sure where to go. They are in search of help from people who can guide them and nurture their emotional needs.
You are holding on
This might suggest that you are hoping that things get right. You must be experiencing a struggle in some areas of your life. It could be in your relationship, job, etc. Any of these situations create fear inside because you are not sure if things really do work. So keep on hoping and holding on to the next page of your life as it unfolds before you.
This commonly happens to people who currently experience issues in life in which they have no control whatsoever. They are struggling to put things in order.
The way you fell and landed
Sometimes a falling dream is complete. What I mean by this is that most falling dreams only shows where you fall and the accompanying fearful feeling. But some dreams like this last until the moment you land. Remembering how you land on the ground is vital in interpreting the entire experience. It may help you figure out the meaning.
For instance, if you fall on your back, it might suggest that you need more help from others to achieve your current undertaking. If you land on your hand, it might suggest that you need help from the people close to you. If you land on water, it means that you are facing an emotional problem.
This is a scary dream experience. This might suggest that you accidentally come across a situation that causes you stress and problem. This situation is scary because you did not intend it. You have a great purpose but ended up in the wrong outcome.
You are on the edge
This falling dream might suggest that you pushing too hard. It reminds you to take time to rest. Doing many things at a time could cause fatigue and distress. This commonly happens to people who make risky decisions in their life. As a result, they feel like they are on the edge.
You land on the bottom
This probably the scariest. This might suggest that you hit your limit or tipping point. This could be the determining time for your life. Your decision will change everything or even make things worse. You can run or face all the things that disturb you.
You watch other people fall
Sometimes you see others falling in your dream. This might suggest that someone close to you is experiencing difficult times. Observe your friends and relatives see if they are indeed experiencing bad times in their lives. Someone could be in danger.
Generally, here are the common reasons why do we dream about falling:
- Fear of losing a job
- Inability to take a lead in a business or social relationship
- Afraid of the relationship commitment
- Lack of control over personal circumstances
- The failure in an intimate relationship
- Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
- Feeling of inadequacy
- Failure to execute plans towards personal goals
Do these falling dreams really have meanings? Well, no one can tell for sure. Although there are theories that offer possible explanations, scientific evidence however debunked them all. Neuroscience says that dreams literally have no meanings.
Why is that? Well, accordingly, when you are sleeping some parts of your brain are active to keep your internal organs function well. Some of the parts of the brain control the heartbeat, others control blood pressure, etc.
When the cortex is active, it means that all neurons in that area are constantly firing sending and receiving neurotransmitters. The neural activities are random. While you are asleep, your brain also struggles to make sense out of those random neurochemical activities in the form of dreams. Therefore, everything you see in your dreams is just random pictures that your brain has created from random neural activities. Thus, your dreams have no meaning attached to them.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.