What the most common dreams are and what they mean, according to Google data

Have you ever speculated about your significant other's dreams? Wondered whether or not they have the audacity to cheat on you in their sleep? Well, before you plunge into the depths of paranoia, new research has revealed what the most common dreams are around the world - and they're not as bad as you might think.

Contrary to popular belief, New Zealanders don't dream about sheep or hobbits - according to the research, Kiwis most commonly dream about their teeth falling out. 

Luxury bedding retailer Secret Linen Store analysed the most commonly Googled dreams across more than 180 countries, spanning 392 dream subjects, to determine whether what you dream about varies depending on where you live. As dreams are often manifestations of our worries or deepest, darkest thoughts, a few eventful years in global affairs have clearly led to more overactive imaginations, with people often turning to the world wide web to determine the meanings behind their nighttime visions. 

According to the research, dogs are, perhaps surprisingly, the most common topic of dreams worldwide, with our furry friends topping the list in 19 countries. 

And it appears animals are often on our minds, with snakes, cats, fish and mice rounding up the top five critters to most commonly appear in our midnight manifestations.

Now, for the not-so-good news - while the research indicates there are four subjects your S/O is more likely to be dreaming about, cheating is number five on the list of the most common dreams worldwide - followed by an ex, which takes out the sixth spot. Truly the stuff of nightmares.

Meanwhile, the terrifying vision of teeth falling out - the most common dream in New Zealand and Samoa - is also the seventh most common dream worldwide. Interestingly, experts say the dream may denote feelings of self-doubt, frustration or fear.

Comparatively, if you're a Brit, you're likely not dreaming about tea, scones, or the Queen, and in fact, your nights are fuelled by thoughts of being pregnant.

"As the last couple of years might have felt more nightmare-inducing than a calm backdrop for a good night's sleep, we were keen to see how this might have impacted what we're dreaming about around the world. It's interesting to see that dreams actually do differ depending on where you live, but also comforting to know you're not alone when it comes to dreaming about snakes or ex-partners," said Molly Freshwater, co-founder of Secret Linen Store. 

"Whatever you regularly dream about, sleep is so important, and making sure your bed is as relaxing and comforting as possible will go a long way to making sure you're having good dreams rather than nightmares."

The top 15 most common dreams in the world - and the number of countries who dream of it the most

  1. Dogs - 19
  2. Being pregnant - 18
  3. Snakes - 17
  4. Travelling - 12
  5. Cheating - 11
  6. An ex - 11
  7. Teeth falling out - 10
  8. Money - 8
  9. Cats - 5
  10. Fish - 5
  11. A wedding - 5
  12. Mice - 4
  13. Spiders - 4
  14. Driving - 4
  15. Gardening - 4.

What each continent dreams about the most

  • Europe: Being pregnant
  • North and Central America: Cheating
  • South America: Travelling
  • Africa: Dogs
  • Oceania: Teeth falling out
  • Asia: Dogs.
Woman looking angrily at her partner in bed
Cheating and exes are common dream subjects - the stuff of nightmares. Photo credit: Getty Images

What do the most common dreams mean? 

As the most common dream worldwide, visions of man's best friend are often related to themes of loyalty and protection regarding our relationships. The dream could represent subconscious musings as to whether a person is looking out for you, or is a threat - which could be inferred by how friendly the dog is in the dream. 

The UK, France and Switzerland are among the 18 countries that dream most frequently of being pregnant. Dreams about being pregnant are often linked with experiencing something new in your life, and hint that you are growing as a person, according to the research.

Snakes slithering into dreams is most common in African nations like South Africa and Rwanda. Snakes are often symbolic of struggling to make a tricky decision, perhaps bringing to light something that needs to be confronted in waking life.   

Rounding off the top five were dreams involving cheating, which was predominantly on the mind of those living in North and Central America, including those in the US. While infidelity may not be front of mind when you wake up, this dream is often perceived as the body's way of processing complex emotions about past events - so it shouldn't always be taken literally.  

If, like in countries such as Poland and Bulgaria, cats are often creeping into your dreams, it could mean that someone is deceiving you - cats are said to be associated with bad fortune and deception. If fish are featuring in your nighttime adventures, it may mean you are moving towards a challenging or difficult situation. 

If, like in Brazil, your nightmares frequently feature mice, it could indicate feelings of inadequacy, but could also signify something positive - especially if you are catching the mouse. Meanwhile, Austria and Germany often dream about arachnids, which embody a fear of something you feel is unavoidable - such as a meeting with your boss, or seeing someone you are no longer friends with. 

Relationship-related dreams are also common, with residents of both Mexico and Japan frequently having dreams (or nightmares) about their ex-partners. If you're dreaming about an ex, it could be a sign of healing, with your subconscious trying to help you process your feelings and move on. If you're dreaming about an old flame, it could be a symbol of passion, indicating you're looking for more excitement in your life. If marriage features regularly in your dreams, like it does for Greek and Kenyan residents, it's not necessarily a sign you want to be married - instead symbolising your commitment to either a job, friendship, or hobby.

Money makes the world go round, and that is certainly the case for Uganda and Nigeria, who searched for the meaning behind dreams of money the most. While very few of us who dream of money are rich when we wake up, dreaming about money is instead thought to be a symbol of self-confidence and self-worth. If you dream about money regularly, it could mean you're feeling rich in life.

Dreaming about teeth falling out may denote feelings of self-doubt, frustration or fear. If, like residents of Ethiopia, you're often driving in your dreams, it could be an indicator of how much control you feel you have over your life and how close you are to your goals. 

Finally, if pottering in the garden is a regular nighttime vision, the meaning can vary depending on the state of the garden. If your dream garden is overgrown with weeds, you might feel you have neglected a part of your life and want to spend time getting it back in order. Gardening is the most commonly searched-for dream in countries like Turkey and Nepal.