The Meaning Behind Common Work-Related Dreams

Waking up in a panic over a work-related nightmare is the last thing you need before heading into the office. But if you subscribe to dream interpretation — theories about the psychological or symbolic meaning of dreams — then you can at least rest easy knowing that there might be a lesson to be learned from your nighttime disturbance.

Here are 5 common work-related dreams and what they mean.

1. Missing a deadline

There are at least two ways you could interpret a dream where you let an assignment slip. If your job involves meeting regular deadlines, it could be a way to remind you of your responsibilities — an evolutionary biological response of sorts. "[O]n a deeper level, you may want to ask if you are happy with your job and, if not, are you feeling like you are running out of time to get the job you truly want or to be in a place in your career where you feel you should be," CNN reports.

2. Naked in the office

Whether you're totally naked or just inappropriately dressed, this common work nightmare could be a way of revealing your sense of vulnerability in the workplace, according to dream expert Lauri Loewenberg told CNN. It could also mean that you're still ruminating on something embarrassing you did at the office. Or it could generally imply that you're concerned about how you're perceived by others in the office.

3. Sleeping with a co-worker

The meaning of dreams about sleeping with a co-worker — usually your boss — depends on whether you're attracted to that person or not, Loewenberg explained to CNN. If you do have a crush, it's quite possible that it's a standard sex dream, exposing your sexual desire for that person. If you're not attracted to that person, then it could represent a subconscious need to collaborate on a project. Alternatively, dreams about sleeping with a colleague could also reveal a desire to take on their personality traits or skills.

4. Being stuck in an elevator

This dream could represent a subconscious fear that you're not effectively progressing in your career. Maybe it means that you feel stalled — that you're burnt out or have made it as far as you're going to make it at your company. That said, if the elevator in your dream is moving steadily upward, that should signify satisfaction and a sense of upward mobility in your position, Bustle reports.

5. Equipment malfunction

If you have a dream about faulty equipment — commonly a cell phone, work computer, or copy machine — it could signify that something else, in the real world, isn't working for you. "Most commonly the phone is dead, which may suggest a communication problem you're experiencing," Forbes reports.