What does dreaming about falling mean?

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: March 31, 2019
What does dreaming about falling mean?
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Many of us have been dosing off to sleep only to feel the stomach clenching sensation of falling from a great height. We wake with a start and we wonder why the safety of our couch had for that millisecond become a suspended scaffold over the Empire State Building. But dreaming of falling can appear in many different manifestations in our subconscious. It could be a short drop, a long cascade or even simply spending a dream's worth of time worrying about going over a precipice. If you have experienced some of these dreaming sensations, then you may be wondering what does dreaming about falling mean? oneHOWTO looks into possible explanations to help you keep your feet on the ground.

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Steps to follow:


Losing your balance

Dreams about falling don't all involve descending into the mouth of a volcano or dropping long distances into a void. Many are simply about losing your balance. You can fall down onto the ground, knock over onto someone else or even simply struggle to keep yourself upright. These are possibly indications you are having some sort of personal crisis. Not being able to maintain your balance in your dream suggests the same can be said about your waking life.

If you dream of falling over by losing your balance, have a think about some of the aspects of your life which aren't as steady as you would like them to be. Perhaps you are having some problems at work which are making you worried about job security. Maybe a relationship you have is ending or has been lost, their withdrawal of support making you feel off balance.

Dreaming of falling over might simply mean you have lost confidence in yourself. When you were once strong footed and sure, perhaps a traumatic even, future concern or even a dip in your mental health has made you less so.


Dreaming of falling off a cliff

One of the most common falling dreams is about doing so from a high cliff. If the place from which you fall is large and intimidating, then it makes sense your dreams are concerned with something large and intimidating. One of the most common interpretations of falling from a clifftop or mountainside is a fear of failure.

We often equate rising to the top of a company or particular career with climbing a mountain. It is an arduous task, but the reward at the top is very desirable. If you have achieved a certain amount of success, perhaps dreaming of falling is a fear you will lose it. Getting to the top is difficult, but staying there in a competitive marketplace is no picnic either.

Falling from a cliff might mean a fear of failure, but it might also mean you are simply stressed about having to worry about failure. Your subconscious often gives you worse case scenarios. It doesn't mean your career is actually in jeopardy, it just means you might need to reassess your relationship with what you think success means to you.

What does dreaming about falling mean? - Step 2

Dreaming about falling off a bridge

Falling off a bridge is a common worry. We use bridges to cross between two places. Sometimes this can be a strong Golden Gate bridge type structure, other times it can be a rickety rope bridge in some nightmarish Irish folktale. While falling from a great height might symbolize our concern about falling from the top, falling from a bridge might represent falling before you get there. If you are going through some sort of transition in your life, then dreaming of falling from a bridge might be a sign you are concerned about it.

There is a difference between falling from a bridge and jumping from a bridge. Bridges are a common place for people to jump if they want to end their life. If you dream about falling from a bridge due to suicide, then you are most likely going through some sort of stress or anxiety. You may be feeling like you are looking for a way out from a stressful situation. Alternatively, as it is your subconscious telling you these things, perhaps your are going through a stress which you are not consciously aware of.


Dreaming about a free fall towards water

Many dreams consist of falling into a body of water. Here it is often more about the water you fall into than the plateau from which you fall. You may be feeling overwhelmed by certain emotions. This could be related to a fear of failure, some particular harassment in recent times or simply having too much on your plate. If you fall into a body of water, then this represents a freedom from these issues.

This freedom will be some sort of release. Depending on the circumstances of this dream, it could be a healthy release into some sort of safety. However, it could also mean that you are overwhelmed to the point of wanting to end it all, whether figuratively or actually. If you are having recurring dreams about falling, but are unsure of what they might mean, you should consider speaking to a mental health professional. They might be able to help you better understand these feelings and work on ways to cope with them.

What does dreaming about falling mean? - Step 4

Circumstances of the fall

There are different elements of your falling dream. You may be falling alone, with another person/other people or even watching somebody else fall. You may be excited by the fall, scared or ambivalent. There could be clear skies or dark storms. Any of these other elements of your dream can have a bearing on what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

If you are watching someone else fall, it is likely you are worried about them. Maybe someone you know is going through a problem (a health problem, drug abuse issues, simply making bad decisions, etc.) and watching them fall feels as if you cannot do anything to help. If you are ambivalent about the fall then maybe you are worried about not having enough agency in your own life. You are simply coasting along without being fulfilled.

The circumstances of your dream are related to the circumstances of your actual life. Have a think about what might be affecting you and see if any of these correlated images appear in your dream. You may not be able to readily diagnose what is at fault, but a little self-examination can be good either way. It's probably why you are here reading this article.


Dreaming about falling isn't always a subconscious issue. The fast start wake up we mentioned in the introduction is something called a hypnogogic jerk, often shortened to hypnic jerk[1]. This is when you are about to fall asleep, you wake with a start and feel the sensation of falling from a short distance. It occurs in healthy people seemingly at random, but is also associated with overexertion before sleep, caffeine intake or even anxiety. They are normal and not to be too concerned about.

Also, falling isn't always a bad thing in our dreams. You may have walked near a high place and thought to yourself what it might feel like if you were to jump off it. This is called high place syndrome and it is not a sign you want to commit suicide (although it may be). It is more likely a way to 'actually affirm [your] will to live'[2]. This is because you are thinking about how terrible it would be to fall. If you are having dreams about falling, a similar conclusion might be accurate.

If it's not you, but your teeth which are falling in your dream, you may want to read a little about what this dream might mean.

If you want to read similar articles to What does dreaming about falling mean?, we recommend you visit our Culture & Society category.

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1 comment
Giannee Pietersz
I have this dream every night of someone pushing me of a cliff with horns and a black clothes???? What do I do
OneHowTo Editor
There is a technique to control your dreams, it's called Lucid dreaming, so this might work for you. Take a look at this article for all the details:
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What does dreaming about falling mean?