Survey reveals the worst nightmares of Brits

Nightmares reflect patterns of human behaviour and are often associated with traumatic experiences. They echo our personality, how we deal with problems, and issues that are currently troubling us (even if we don’t admit it). Regardless of the reasons for their occurrence, bad dreams adversely affect our everyday life, with no way to fully avoid this bothersome phenomenon.

Numerous factors influence the social, emotional, and physical well-being of Brits. They inevitably appear in people’s dreams, and the old wives’ tale about cheese causing nightmares has nothing to do with this. What are the most common nightmare themes? In order to answer this question, our team at SlotsMove conducted an online survey among 1,280 respondents (640 women and 640 men). The responses given revealed some broad tendencies and unveiled the most common nightmares among men and women. In order to conduct this survey we used the platform of MarketsChain.

In the last week of April, we surveyed 1,280 Brits by sending them a list of nightmare themes without restriction on the number of answers. As we also set ourselves the aim to assess the distinction between men and women, the gender ratio among the respondents was 50/50. In order to ensure that our analysis was well-founded, we consulted Springer, a reputable publisher of scientific books, journals, and reference works. In order to conduct this survey we used the platform of

Which Dreams Haunt Britons the Most?

Nightmares are a purely personal experience, determined by one’s tolerance for stress, sleeping pattern, emotions, and anxieties, so it is hard to tell which bad dream appears most often. However, the responses in our survey allow us to outline the most common nightmare themes. Here are the top 5 bad dreams confirmed:

  1. Trying to escape – 64.8%
  2. Falling down – 63.5%
  3. Losing a tooth – 59.0%
  4. Death – 55.6%
  5. Being naked in public – 42.4%

Being chased or trying to escape tops the list with 64.8% of our respondents quoting it as a nightmare they have had at least once. This is a theme that suggests that the subconscious is drawing attention to the fact that the dreamer feels trapped in an unpleasant situation or a rocky relationship. As we allowed additional comments within the survey, many Brits also shared that they felt overwhelmed at the office due to increased demands and workload.

Although less frequent, nightmares may be of physiological origin. Dreams of falling down were confirmed by 63.5% of the surveyed individuals, and usually appear at the beginning of sleep, when the nervous system relaxes and the heart rate slows down. More often, these nightmares imply that something in your waking life makes you feel out of control – unexpected expenses, new demands at work, or a fear of letting something go, for example.

With 59.9%, the third most common nightmare theme is losing a tooth. To see your teeth falling out in your dream can be quite frightening, and is often a sign of psychological stress. As teeth stand for power and confidence, in dream interpretation, their loss is indicative of helplessness and self-doubt.

Confirmed by 55.6% of the surveyed audience, the death of a loved one comes next on the list of the most common nightmares experienced by Brits. Such a bad dream usually occurs when someone is entering a period of uncertainty in their life and changes are on the horizon, whether in terms of work, relationships, or place of residence.

Standing in front of people with no clothes on is a common nightmare, experienced by 42.4% of the respondents in our survey. Self-doubt is again involved here, as well as a feeling of uneasiness in a certain area of your life. Nightmares about being naked could also mean that dreamers are ashamed of themselves or excessively worried about public opinion.

Most Common Nightmares
Trying to escape 64.80%
Falling down 63.50%
Losing teeth 59.00%
Death 55.60%
Being naked in public 42.40%
Missing a deadline 36.80%
Failing an exam 32.50%
Being lost 29.20%
Losing your job 27.60%
Getting injured 26.20%
Talking to a deceased relative 20.80%
A partner cheating 18.30%
Out-of-control vehicle 16.50%
Home burning down 13.80%
Suddenly going bald 8.20%

Is Gender a Crucial Factor?

Given that bad dreams are prompted by universal factors such as life history, mental soundness, and ability to act under pressure, no nightmare theme can be defined as strictly male or female. Assuming, however, that gender stereotypes from waking life affect people’s dreams, our team decided to study what women are more likely to have nightmares about.

In order to assess the matter, we asked our respondents whether they had ever had bad dreams related to five specific issues. Here are the results.

Women Men
Abnormality of the human body 58.90% 41.10%
A partner cheating 56.30% 43.70%
The passing of a loved one 53.60% 46.40%
Technological malfunction 38.70% 61.30%
Failure to pass an exam 52.50% 47.50%

Physical dissatisfaction-related themes such as an abnormality of the human body are significantly more frequent in women’s nightmares than in men’s – 58.9% vs 41.1%. This comes as no surprise as women usually place more importance on their appearance, as evidenced by scientific research and articles such as Cognitive Therapy and Research.

The majority, or 56.3%, of all the respondents who gave a positive answer when questioned about a nightmare where their partner was cheating were women. Needless to say, such dreams stem from feelings of insecurity in one’s romantic relationship. It might also relate to dishonesty experienced in the past or a lack of satisfaction in the present.

The percentage discrepancy is less significant when it comes to having a nightmare about a loved one passing away (53.6% vs 46.4%). However, women are still in the majority, mainly due to being more sensitive and therefore experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety.
The only surveyed topic that men seem to be particularly concerned about is dealing with technical equipment. Nightmares about a smartphone malfunctioning, a computer losing its Internet connection, or a car breaking down were more common among male respondents (61.3% vs 38.7%).

As for the fifth and last issue, bad dreams about failing to pass an exam (attending unprepared), women rate 5% higher than men. Such nightmares are often related to a lack of confidence, although this is not always the case; it could also be an indication that you are exhausted and have hit your stress tolerance limit.