We are all dreamers. When we sleep, we dive into other worlds. Worlds in which we can fly, fight against giant spiders or stand sweating at the blackboard and despair of the math problem. Dreams are webs in our brain that become our reality while we sleep. For Sigmund Freud something like the gateway to the subconscious. While most dreams are unique, there are also those that haunt us over and over again. What is it about these dreams that we can’t get rid of?

Repeating dreams is more common in children than in adults. Triggers for such “returns” can include poor sleep hygiene, but also sleep apnea or post-traumatic stress disorder. Nightmares often deal with events that have not yet ended, traumas that have not yet been processed. In fact, researchers at the University of Montreal, in a survey based on a questionnaire, found that people’s dream themes aren’t all that different. There is at least some content that appears frequently. At that time, school topics such as exams and teachers occupied one of the top places with around 72 percent.

Recurring dreams are considered recurring once they occur more than once. Sometimes this is the case within a short period of time, in other cases it can be years in between. The dreams can be repeated one-to-one, but slight deviations in content are also possible. It is more likely that the content of such dreams is about experiences that we keep having when we are awake, according to Deirdre Barrett, who teaches in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, on “CNN”. “Because they are a part of us and not just unique experiences.” This coincides with the assessments of sleep researcher Michael Schredls. “Typical dreams are about basic themes of waking life that occur in almost all people in one form or another,” he explained to “Spiegel”. He speaks of basic patterns.

However, neither Barrett nor Schredl believe that one can draw universal conclusions from the content of dreams. Not everyone whose teeth fall out is afraid of loss, not everyone who flies in a dream has a personal need for freedom. It is much more important “what the individual’s personal system of symbols looks like and what associations he has with something,” says Barrett. An example: A classic repeat dream is the search for a toilet, which can become a farce not only in waking life but also in dreams – either none can be found or it is unusable. According to Schredl, behind this dream there is a need that is made more difficult by the current circumstances. What it is about is very individual.