23 Different Types of Dreams


Given the vast number of dreams that occur on a nightly basis, it can be difficult to categorize each dream. Just as music can be categorized into different types – rock, electric, classical – you will find different types of common dream categories that most dreams fall under. Dream Stop has listed 23 specific categories that many consider to contain the majority of dreams that people have. The modern dream researchers tend to break these down to the following categories:

1. Amplifying Dreams

These dreams involve amplifying certain characteristics or traits of the dreamer in order for them to become very apparent. For example, a dreamer that is always following other people might dream that they are following a herd of cattle off a cliff, without little power to change their course of action. These dreams focus on exaggerating specific traits to make them very apparent.

2. Cathartic Dreams

These dreams are designed to release stress from the dreamer by purging out the fears and urges that have been pent up inside the dreamer. These are the type of dreams where you finally find your voice and are not afraid of saying what you feel. You might find yourself in a situation where you confront someone in your life that has been a source of stress in your life.

famous dreams3. Contrary or Compensatory Dreams

In the contrary dreams the dreamer is placed in a situation that is completely contrary to their waking life. You might have recently lost a loved one and found it extremely difficult to find happiness in your waking life. A contrary or compensatory dream would put you in a situation where you are enjoying life carefree and not worried about anything that’s going on around you.

Another example is someone who hates being in the spotlight becomes the center of a major news story in a dream. These dreams are designed to help you find balance by showing you specific things that are missing in your waking life.

4. Daily Processing Dreams (Factual Dreams)

Daily processing dreams are dreams where you go over things that occurred during the day. You might be revisiting a work assignment that you were busy with throughout the day or you dreamt that you visited a family friend that you did during the week. Most dream researchers tend to categorize these dreams as processing information that occurred in the waking state and don’t believe that factual dreams have a lot of meaning.

5. Dreams of Childhood

Dreams of childhood are an extremely common dream for dreamers who have unresolved issues that occurred in their childhood. The dreamer might have dreams about a father who never showed them love and affection or even be placed back in school where they were bullied by other students. These dreams usually reflect a childhood dynamic that is still present in the dreamers subconscious and needs a resolution.

6. False Awakening Dreams

These dreams involve the dreamer being sounds asleep but dream they are awake. Usually these are the type of dreams where the dreamer is fully convinced that events that happened in the dream were real. Especially since they evoked the same emotions as you would feel in a waking state.

7. Incubated Dreams

Incubated dreams are where the dreamer tries to set their mind to dream about a particular experience in their dream. For example, you might focus all your thoughts and concentration on becoming a celebrity before you dream to ensure that you have a dream about being a celebrity. You might also focus on trying to resolve a specific problem before you go to sleep so your subconscious will help you find a resolution to this issue.

8. Inspirational Dreams

Many famous authors, musicians and artists have all claimed to have inspirational dreams to help them inspire their work. This is where the dreamer’s subconscious helps to bring about creative juices to help inspire them to create new things. You might have a dream about a new business idea before you even come up with it in your waking state. Pay attention to these dreams cause they are often the source of great things.

9. Lucid Dreams

These dreams occur when the dreamer is aware that they are in a dream and can take control of the different actions in their dream. Lucid dreaming is a technique that can be learned by the dreamer with enough training and practice.

10. Mutual Dreams

These dreams involve two different dreamers have the same dream. The dreamers can either have a mutual dream spontaneously or they can try and incubate the dream, by focusing on a meet up location before they fall asleep.

11. Nightmares

A nightmare is a universal dream that most people have experienced at some point in their life. These dreams involve the dreamer being under a lot of stress and usually end before any resolution has occurred.  These dreams are usually the result of the dreamer have specific feelings of anxiety or stress in their waking life that occur in a dream.

12. Night Terrors

These dreams are similar to the nightmares but occur in the deep sleep and are difficult to remember because we often don’t recall the terror. These dreams are extremely common among younger children who will often wake up in the middle of the night screaming and unable to wake up from a dream.

13. Out of Body Experiences

Out of body experiences are usually dismissed by researchers because of the lack of scientific data and evidence on the subject; however, people who have experienced it say that their spirit leaves their body traveling through space and time. You will often hear about someone who had a near death experience seeing their body lying there while there spirit was rising.

14. Past Life Dreams

These dreams involve historical settings where some dreamers believe that the dreamer is assuming the identity of someone in the past. Most researchers dismiss the idea of past life dreams and the idea that you are becoming someone else.

15. Physiological Dreams

These are dreams that will reflect the condition of your body. If you drank a lot of water before going to bed, you might have a dream where you are constantly trying to use the bathroom, but still feel like going in the dream. These are quite common with people who are sick or have physiological conditions.

Strange dreams

16. Precognitive Dreams

While some researchers dismiss these type of dreams, some dreamers believe that their dreams can predict future events. You might dream that there is a big disaster that occurs and wake up the next day to see a Tsunami that just hit Southeast Asia. Some people in the past have claimed to dream about the winning lottery numbers the night before a win.

17. Problem Solving Dreams

These dreams involve solving a specific problem that you might have in your waking life. These dreams usually occur when people decide to sleep on a solution to a problem they are trying to figure out. Some researchers speculate that the dreamer has already discovered the answer in their subconscious, only to have it revealed in their dreams.

18. Psychological Dream

These dreams are ones that will cause us to focus on parts of ourselves that we would rather avoid than face. You might have a dream about specific fears, guilt, insecurities or anxieties that have been bothering you in your waking state. For example, you could have a dream about driving in a car that goes out of control as you hit a patch of ice, this could mean that you fear losing control of certain aspects of your life.

19. Recurring Dreams

These dreams typical reoccur because the dreamer hasn’t dealt with a specific situation or problem in their waking life. Usually the reoccurring dream will stop if the dreamer deals with the specific trigger that is causing the dream. However, if the issue remains unresolved then the dream will usually continue to reoccur. These dreams can also occur if the dreamer has suffered from a specific type of trauma that hasn’t been resolved yet. Maybe something happened when the dreamer is a child that continues to burden their unconscious thoughts, causing the recurring dreams to occur.

20. Sexual Dreams

Dreams about sex are usually reflecting some of the underlying feelings that you have in your waking state. These dreams can be interpreted in a number of ways. The meaning of sex dreams will depend on the dreamer’s background, history, and level of comfort with the actions taken in a dream.

21. Telepathic Dreams

These dreams occur when someone you know shows up in your dream and is calling out for help and you find out later that they were indeed having a crisis occur. You might have a dream about a family member being lost or hurt in a dream and found out they something happened to them. These dreams supposedly occur when two people have linked minds telepathically, however, many researchers dispute some of the claims.

22. Vigilant Dreams

These dreams incorporate specific elements of your environment into the dream you are having. A child might wet the bed and dream that they are going for a swim or someone might dream that there is a loud siren in the background as their alarm clock goes off. You might even be falling off your bed and be dreaming that your about to jump off a cliff. The dream will incorporate specific elements of your surrounding environment to make sense of everything.

23. Wish-Fulfillment Dreams

These are dreams desired to fulfill some of the wishes that we have in our daily lives, but never get to experience. You might have a dream that you are a celebrity and wanted by everyone around you or you could have a dream that you are on holiday for the rest of your life. These dreams are part of the unconscious way to deal with certain failures and disappointments you have in your life. You might have been a great athlete when you were younger, but failed to make it to the pros. A dream of being a sports start would be wish fulfillment of the underlying dream you had.


About Author

Stephen is a self confessed dream junkie that loves all things dream related. He is a writer for Dream Stop and has been working in the field of dreams for the past decade. He believes that the YOU are the only person who can truly understand the meaning of your dreams. You have to look inside your inner thoughts to find the hidden truths in your dream. These interpretations are for entertainment purposes only. Stephen's interpretations should be considered an opinion, not professional advice.


  1. This was the most comprehensive and, in my mind, the most accurate organization of dream types I’ve cone across. Thank you.

  2. I was wondering if there is anything known about dreams where you can never reach the end goal, whether it be to go somewhere or to get something.

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