dreams about water - woman splashing drops

What do dreams about water mean? We explain the 12 most common types of water dream

When we have dreams about water, we may be trying to wash away our dark thoughts, or hoping for renewal.

A lot of people have dreams about water. The meaning of these dreams can vary depending on the context of the dream and the person: after all, water is a symbol of the unconscious and the hidden.

But it’s also a symbol of purification and cleansing. Of of feeling overwhelmed.

Below, we take a look at what the most common types of water dream, followed by some recent scientific research results.

Table of Contents

What do dreams about water mean? The 12 most common types of water dream

Below, we look at 12 common types of water dreams: floods, drowning, driving or falling into water, boats and ships, dirty /clear water, drinking water, water in your house, leaks, waterfalls, and water slides.

why do people dream about water - flooding and woman lying in water

1. What do dreams of a flood mean?

Dreaming of a flood is often seen as a metaphor for an emotional event that has overwhelmed the dreamer.

The flood is often attributed to a major life change, such as a breakup or other personal trauma.

Sometimes the dream does not stop once the flood has passed. This suggests that the intensity of the emotions will continue to exist at some level even after the dream itself has subsided.

Dreams of floods can also typically represent the cleansing or purifying aspect of water.

In that case, if you dream of yourself being in the flood, it may be a sign that you need to “cleanse” yourself and your life.

You may be overwhelmed by recent events or burdened by things that are dragging you down, such as bad habits or an unhealthy relationship.

If you see someone else in the flood, then it could mean they are creating a situation where they need to go through some sort of change, and you may feel the need to intervene.

Dreaming of water flooding through a space can also suggest a situation where things will suddenly be revealed that have been hidden for some time.

2. What do drowning dreams mean?

Many of us have experienced a dream in which we were drowning in water, but it’s not always easy to understand what this dream means.

The dreamer in this case may be unable to control the intensity of their emotions during waking life, and thus they feel like they are “drowning” in them.

Some people believe that dreams of drowning symbolize feelings of being out of control in a situation or that the dreamer feels helpless.

Others believe that experiencing this type of nightmare means you are still holding on to some unresolved issue from your past, or that you may be feeling overwhelmed.

dream of driving into water - car on beach

3. Why do some people have dreams about driving into water?

Many people dream about driving into water.

The 2010 Christopher Nolan film Inception famously depicts this phenomenon. when a van drives off a bridge (or at least it does in the characters’ dream).

These dreams are often rooted in anxiety. The person may feel that they are losing control, or being suffocated.

They may also feel that they are being punished or judged for something they have done.

Likewise, dreams about driving into water can be an indication of a conflict between what you want and what you feel is right.

In dreams, the car often symbolizes your unconscious mind.

The sensation of driving into water, then, can mean that there is an unconscious problem that needs to be addressed, but you are feeling conflicted about how to fix it.

Dreaming of driving into water can also mean that the dreamer may feel they are being “driven away” by something outside of their control.

They may thus feel that they are being pushed out of their comfort zone, or that something is blocking them.

4. Dreams about falling into water

It’s natural to be afraid of water. And falling into the water may cause the dreamer to feel vulnerable, which is why they are interpreting this dream as a sign of this fear.

According to Freudian theory, water symbolizes one’s unconscious desires and fears.

In that light, dreams about falling into water may represent suppressed feelings or emotions that are “bubbling up” to the surface of your conscious mind.

Dreaming about being underwater in that sense relates to what it feels like when you’re suppressing your emotions.

This could also be a reference to baptism, which offers a person a new life and a clean slate.

On the other hand, dreams about falling into water can be seen as omens of some misfortune.

For example, such dreams are often associated with the feeling of being unable to keep one’s head “above water,” perhaps in terms of finances.

Alternatively, it might represent feelings of helplessness and a need for protection.

Similarly, such dreams might refer to troubles at work or home that you are not fully aware of.

The dreamer might thus be undergoing an emotional crisis, and needs to drown her sorrows by jumping into the water.

In a more positive light, dreaming about falling into water might indicate a spiritual cleansing, or a release from the past.

The dreamer might also be trying to free themselves from the responsibility of managing their life.

dreaming of water and boats and ships - solo sailboat

5. Dreams about ships, boats, and water

Dreams about large ships and water are a common type of dream. They may be the result of a psychological phenomenon called displacement.

People who have undergone a traumatic event in their lives may mentally “displace” that event onto something else, often something that is safe or where they feel comfortable.

This can be seen, for example, in a dream of sailing.

There are many interpretations, but the most common is that these types of dreams represent the subconscious mind’s desire to travel or explore one’s surroundings.

These dreams can also symbolize adventure, change, relief from pressure, the opportunity for growth, and more.

A ship in a dream often represents success and power, as well as the desire to escape.

Here as well (like always), the context of the dream is also important. If the dreamer is on a ship and on vacation, the dream may signal the desire to escape from one’s daily life.

If the boat or ship in the dream is sinking or on fire, it can symbolize an unsatisfactory job and feeling trapped by it.

6. Dreaming about dirty water

Dreams about dirty or muddy water are usually unpleasant dreams about contamination, or being in the wrong place.

The dreamer is usually in a situation where they are trying to escape from something. And dreaming of dark water represents this sense of feeling at once trapped and lost.

As our subconscious minds are always analyzing the world around us, it is easy to understand why this symbol may represent distress, anxiety with an ambiguous origin, or an urge to find a way out of a difficult situation.

Dreams about dirty water are often linked to spiritual or emotional dysfunction.

Some psychologists believe that humans use their dreams as a way to “clean up” their own emotions.

Some therapists say that a murky water dream can mean that one is feeling a deep sense of guilt, trauma, or fear.

In that light, the dirty or murky water in a dream may represent a barrier that blocks us from achieving the things we desire.

In the same category of water dream is that of drinking salt water: this dream can symbolize internal feelings that are at odds with feeling free and “clean.”

Salt water, much like the water in a swimming pool, is not meant for drinking, so the dream symbolism here might be warning you that you are in an unhealthy place, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

7. Dreaming of clear water

Dreams can be a place to escape from our current reality. They may also contain messages that the dreamer’s unconscious is trying to communicate with the conscious.

Seen in this context, clear water dreams can signify purity of thoughts and mind.

For some people, dreaming about clear water symbolizes the clarity they desire in their lives.

They may be seeking tranquility; such a dream can also stand for a wish to keep things simple and straightforward.

Waking up from a dream of clear water often leaves the dreamer feeling clean and refreshed.

The dream symbolism here may also signify the removal of bad feelings or experiences, or that you feel like your life is finally heading in the right direction.

To dream of water that is clear and clean means your waking life itself is a source of calm water, and such a dream denotes being at peace with oneself.

8. To dream of drinking water

Dreams can be a great way to discover your hidden desires and fears.

In the case having a dream in which you drink water, it may mean something as simple as a need for hydration!

Bur more symbolically, to dream of drinking water can signify your need for refreshment and rejuvenation.

Thus drinking water in a dream is not always about the liquid itself. It may symbolize your deep desire to find some relief from an overwhelming sense of boredom or emptiness.

9. To dream of water inside the house

In this dream, a house with water either on the floor or rushing in may represent the fluidity of unconscious emotions and one’s (in)ability to handle them.

The typical dream of water in the house is characterized by the sensation that you find yourself submerged in water at home, or seeing water washing all over their house.

This dream occurs when there are feelings of dread, anxiety, or panic about something that either is or may soon be happening.

This could also be caused by memories of past events that happened in the house.

But in general, the dream meaning of water inside the house has to do with anxieties and fears: negative energy where the water represents real life worries that the unconscious mind is trying to bring to the surface

10. Dreams about water leaks

Dreams about water leaks, for example about water leaking from the ceiling, usually suggest that you want to feel more safe and grounded.

Here, the dream symbols symbolize emotions that we are ignoring in waking life. To dream of leaks is to dream of emotional control sipping away, drip by drip, as the water flowing downward is taking you with it.

The most common dream interpretation where that your inner peace is at risk, and as such you should not forget the basics in life, such as providing for your family, paying your bills, and taking care of yourself.

If you see a leaking roof in your dream, this may mean that you are feeling drained, and likely frustrated.

If you see water leaking from the shower or bath, it may be time to examine how you deal with your emotions or thoughts of intimacy.

If you notice water leaks coming from the faucet, this may be an indication that it is time to ask for forgiveness and let go of your petty grudges.

waterfall dreams - huge green cliff

11. Dreams about waterfalls

It is surprisingly common to have dreams about waterfalls.

A good reason for this is that the sound of a waterfall creates a sense of safety, calmness, and isolation from the outside world.

Dreams about waterfalls can be interpreted as a sign of the need for change in your life.

The waterfall may suggest that you are experiencing a great amount of stress and need to find peace and tranquility.

A spiritual meaning of dreaming about waterfalls is that they stand for self-awareness and self-acceptance — a person who has issues with accepting themselves may dream about waterfalls in order to overcome these issues.

At the same time, dreams of waterfalls can also symbolize a wish for change. When you dream about a waterfall, it might be your subconscious telling you that you want to embark on a new journey in life.

Waterfalls are unique in that they represent constant change (the flowing water is always new) at the same time as permanence (as some waterfalls have been flowing for millions of years).

The “change” aspect can represent powerful emotions and feelings that we need to let go of; falling water suggests that we need to cleanse ourselves and let go of the past.

Dreams about waterfalls are thus often interpreted to be a sign of change, renewal, or transformation, but they can also represent something as literal as a fear of heights.

For some people, waterfalls represent the feeling of freedom, for example weightlessness. For others, the dream represents emotional healing and letting go.

12. Dreams about water slides

Some people have dreams that they are descending on a water slide.

These dreams are usually associated with feelings of happiness and joy, most likely because they recall fond memories from childhood when they would go with their family to an amusement park or public pool.

Dreams about water slides thus might be about an actual water slide, but they can also represent a sense of adventure or freedom. The dream symbolizes care-free youthful folly, which at times can seems quite far away indeed.

Some people find themselves dreaming about sliding down a steep water slide.

This can be an exciting and enjoyable experience in the dream, but it is usually accompanied by a sense of fear and anticipation.

And like all adventures, that can be both frightening as well as liberating.

Some people feel the need to “fight or flee,” while others might feel exhilaration and anticipation.

Dreams about water slides can also be indicative of the struggles we feel in our day-to-day life between feeling unable to overcome certain tasks, and feeling completely confident we can get things done.

inerpreting dreams about water -- rocky waves

What is the spiritual meaning of dreaming about water?

What does water mean in a dream spiritually?

Dreams about water can be an indication of a potential spiritual transformation.

Water is variously interpreted as a symbol of potentiality, the unconscious, the feminine, the depths of the psyche.

Because water is an excellent conductor of psychic energy, some feel it can be used to help induce lucid dreaming, astral projection, or remote viewing (though as we see below, the scientific evidence on its usefulness for lucid dreaming is scant).

As water symbolizes emotions in dreams, it is often interpreted as a way to express your inner feelings about your own spirituality, or your own spiritual journey.

Water is of course seen as being the source of life because of rain, lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans, all of which we depend on.

But water also helps to carry our emotions, so in that sense it can have a spiritual meaning if you are feeling overwhelmed or have high emotions.

Another spiritual meaning of dreaming about water is that you may be neglecting or denying life’s abundance.

It can also represent feelings of scarcity, feelings of being overwhelmed, or of feeling powerless and out of control.

You may feel that you are always constrained by your work or family, and the water may set you free from these restrictions.

The meaning of water dreams varies between cultures

In your waking life, this may show up as a denial of joy and pleasure in your life – a feeling that there is never enough time for fun or pleasure.

But when you dream about water it may signal the potential for a shift in perspective and attitude towards life.

Of course, the spiritual meaning of dreaming about water varies depending on the culture.

For example, in Western culture, water in a dream may symbolize the need for emotional release.

In some cultures, water is seen as a symbol for cleansing or washing away the dirt that comes with living in the world. Water is also seen to represent life, fertility, and abundance because it sustains all living things.

This symbolic meaning also stems from water being used in many religions as a form of baptism which is used for ritualistic purposes such as washing away sins or being cleansed from evil spirits.

Hot vs cold water dreams

While cold water such as lake water can symbolize cleansing, more often than not a hot water dream denotes negative feelings, negative thoughts, or some kind of emotional disturbance, such as repressed emotions.

When deep water flows in a dream, often the water represents a positive meaning such as spiritual growth, spiritual enlightenment, or a positive mindset more generally.

In these cases, the dream symbolizes internal feelings that the dream is “tapping into” as a kind of sixth sense, a vital element guiding you along your hitherto unknown life path.

Often, calm water flowing in a dream represents feelings of inner peace and emotional cleansing, or even an emotional transition: deep emotions that suggest a powerful life force bubbling just under the surface.

dreams about water and emotions and spiritual growth - woman emerging from water

Water dreams and negative emotions

Yet waves crashing on the shore could symbolize feelings of anger and negative energy.

Likewise, water overflowing can represent emotions of inadequacy or a lack of control over one’s life: turbulent water as a sign that you feel overwhelmed.

Some people, then, have water dreams that are largely positive, but for others, the water dream is a reflection of the negative emotions and emotional pain they feel in real life.

For example, if a person has been hurt by someone else, they may have a dream about being at the bottom of a swimming pool or bath tub and not being able to get back to the surface.

Such negative emotions can become overwhelming, reflecting our deeper emotions most intense feelings, which include emotional pain.

Some can be so upsetting that they cause us to feel as if we are losing our “emotional control.”

Dreams about negative aspects of water symbolism — such as boiling water, muddy water, scary sea creatures, or drinking salt water — can thus be a self reflection of unconscious emotions freely expressing themselves in the dream, and may even reveal an emotional turmoil in the spiritual realm.

Seeing a dream of water as an emotional “holding tank”

As we have seen, water is so often a dream symbol of emotion, which suggests an emotional state beneath the surface.

For one person, crystal clear blue water could reflect waking life events that are going well, for example in terms of their career, relationships, or personal growth.

But for someone else, those same dream symbols might mean blandness or repetitiveness, a need to escape from the safe and mundane that one experiences in real life.

The presence of water in a dream — be it holy water, tidal waves, a muddy puddle, or even an aquarium tank — indicates an unacknowledged emotional state beneath the surface.

Emotional turmoil, for example, can often be symbolized by water flowing in a dream.

In the case of tidal waves, for example, water represents a way of opening the emotional floodgates, and the dream of water is a way of letting ourselves open up to these newfound possibilities.

The dreamer is going through an emotional turmoil in real life and the water in the dream is a way to represent this.

The water in a water dream, after all, can very much be a feeling or a state of mind.

The unconscious is always trying to tell us something, and this type of dream is often about how the person’s emotions are affecting their life.

Academic research on dreaming about water

2007 study conducted by researchers at Italy’s University of Milan-Bicocca found that about 10% of dreams involve water, most accompanied by a floating sensation.

And a 1978 study found that splashing water on a dreamer’s hands or face did not help to induce either water-related dreams or lucid dreaming.

Influential dream researcher Stephen LaBerge has said that his own interest in (lucid) dreams stemmed from a childhood dream in which he imagined that he was a deep-sea pirate who could remain underwater as long as he wanted to.

Conclusion: watery dreams are eternal, plus more resources on dream interpretation

As we have seen, dreams about water often represent the emotions, feelings, or events in one’s life that are hidden or repressed.

For more information about what your dreams might mean, check out the articles below.

And for now, sweet dreams!

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