Can you remember the last time you woke up from a dream or nightmare, and all the details were crystal clear enough to obsessively dissect the damn thing before the memory inevitably faded into oblivion? Dreams are fickle in that, one minute, the vision plays out like a movie and your imagination is the IMAX theater, and then poof! They’re gone. On the rare occasion that the fantasy does stick, however, it’s usually something you’d like to interpret. For example, what does being drunk in a dream mean if, say, typically you’re not a huge drinker, or if you know for a fact you didn't drink a sip of alcohol that night? Maybe they mean nothing, maybe they mean something. Either way, curious minds need to know.
It’s not too often that you’ll remember your dreams in general, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, humans spend two hours or more in their own private dreamland every night. What’s more, the organization notes, the human mind creates fantastical worlds, and even the most mortifying scenarios, anywhere from four to six times throughout the night. Despite these facts, though, the National Sleep Foundation says that the majority of us forget anywhere from 95 to 99 percent of our dreams. Pretty trippy, right?
But then there are the night visions that stick out like a sore thumb — the ones that maybe fabricate a persona that is so uncharacteristically you, or that put you in awkward or frightening circumstances. Sometimes dreams even make your awake brain foggy, as if you’re hungover from the experience — even if your dream didn't include any alcohol.
According to Alesandra Woolley, executive editor of Mattress Advisor, dreams are most heavily influenced by what's going on in your life at that very moment. So, for instance, let’s say you're strung out over a big presentation at work. “Your brain is still working while you're sleeping, and it's processing emotions and memories which are oftentimes displayed through your dreams,” Woolley tells Elite Daily, so you might “have dreams about that event and what happens there — whether good or bad.”
Not all dreams are cut and dry, though. They can be symbolic, too, leaving you a little thrown off if you’re trying to process them. “Maybe you're dreaming about that same presentation, but you feel really unprepared for it and you have a dream that your teeth are coming loose,” Woolley explains. “This can be symbolic of chaos, or a feeling of not having control over something in your life.”
So what does it mean if you dream about being drunk? Well, it depends. For example, if you skipped happy hour last night, and aren’t a huge drinker to begin with, according to Woolley, this would be a perfect example of a symbolic dream. And as far as an interpretation goes, it’s likely that drunk-dream you is a representation of something you’re trying to escape from in your real life.
“Think about someone's typical physical and emotional state when they're drunk — irresponsible, lack of control, careless behaviors, clouded thinking, lack of awareness — it's an escape from the present state that they're wishing to no longer be in,” Woolley explains. This doesn’t necessarily mean you want to drink as a way of escaping whatever’s going on, per se. It just means that there might be some very real, very stressful emotions you’re harboring, and entering this sort of alternative state is currently more appealing than what you’re actually going through.
If you frequently dream about being drunk, this could also be a reflection of your personality IRL. Regulars at happy hour might dream of drunkenness because of how often they participate in that scene while, alternatively, someone who doesn’t enjoy being out of control might project those concerns into their dreams. However, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement one way or another. Dreams are extremely personal and individual, so the meanings of dreams really are subjective.
Of course, dream interpretation can be tricky, because there are so many ways to translate these visions into something concrete that makes sense when you compare it to real life. On that note, though, if you are interested in dream interpretation, or have a recurring dream you’d like to decode, it might be worth reaching out to a sleep therapist that's clinically trained to help you work through them.