Having a dream about not being able to breathe is no joke. It lowers your quality of sleep and is scary, to say the least. Further, you feel much more anxious about falling asleep when you have recurring dreams.

Others may tell you it’s no biggie and lull you back to sleep but only you know how horrified you feel. Think that there’s no end to this misery?

Well, your dreams might be a secret message from the spiritual world or your subconscious mind. If you work on them, you might eventually stop having dreams.

If you’re curious about the meaning of the dream, you’ve reached the right place. This think-piece is the all-in-one answer to your worries.

So, without any delay, let’s try to breathe properly here…

Dreaming of Not Being Able to Breathe  - 10 Types & Interpretations
Dreaming of Not Being Able to Breathe – 10 Types & Interpretations

Dream About Not Being Able to Breathe – General Interpretations

If you’re not being able to breathe in dreams, it may imply stress and anxiety, pressure, unaddressed trauma, and exhaustion in real life. 

In reality, being unable to breathe is a pretty serious condition. So, even in dreams, you might feel terrified and never hope to get such dreams again.

However, you can’t simply stop having a dream because you don’t want it. You must find the roots and eliminate them. If you’re wondering what they are, let’s get down to it…

1. It signifies tension, stress, and anxiety

Sometimes, you can’t breathe in dreams because you’re stressed, anxious, or tensed about the most basic things in life. It might be about the excess workload, your child’s performance, financial issues, and other regular things.

Something in your waking life upset you so much that you can’t sleep well at night. Since you can’t run away from your responsibilities, you must learn to deal with them.

Try yoga or breathing exercises to calm yourself and your muscles before breathing. If nothing works, you better talk with a loved one and try out their relaxation techniques.

2. Your subconscious mind demands your attention

If you have recurring dreams of not being able to breathe, your subconscious mind wants to urgently convey a message to you. Possibly, you’re in a dire situation and this dream holds the solution to your problems.

The dream wants you to take a U-turn in your life because you’re on the wrong path. Even if you ignore this dream and carry on with your life, you’ll face many troubles at every step of life.

3. You have untreated trauma

Sometimes being unable to breathe in dreams is a reflection of your deep emotional pain from the past. You didn’t heal, yet you show others that you’re fine and can carry on with your life.

However, if you don’t address your issues, these dreams will come to you even stronger. You might burst out at any moment unexpectedly and cause a ruckus.

Your subconscious mind wants you to be aware of your emotional situation, treat yourself, and get better while things are still stable.

4. You need a break from your work or relationship

You might also get such dreams when you can’t cope with your responsibilities, others’ demands, and expectations. You feel suffocated due to the massive duties you manage continuously.

This might happen in your romantic or professional life. You feel your independence is at stake, so you might take drastic steps to protect yourself.

However, the dream suggests thinking twice before any decision. You mustn’t leave your job or separate from your partner as those aren’t feasible solutions.

5. It’s symbolic of exhaustion

In a particular area of your life, if you keep pushing too hard, you may have such dreams. It says that you’re exhausted from overworking and your body desires a break. However, you still have high spirits and want to push through.

These dreams ask you to align your body and mind. Though you have immense mental energy, you must replenish your physical energy before you continue.

You might ruin both your physical and mental health if you don’t pay heed to this sign.

6. There’s no end to your worry

Sometimes when you can’t breathe in a dream, it means you take life too seriously. You’re all work and no play and amidst everything, you lose your chance to relish the joy of being alive.

Alternatively, it may mean that something is seriously wrong in your life. It makes you panic that things will never get better. Hunt the roots of such feelings and deal with them sooner.

7. You’re on a self-sabotage spree

If you’re a pessimistic person, these are common dreams. It shows that your negativity plays around with your existing capabilities and your subconscious mind wants you to stop.

Possibly, you let go of every opportunity in life because you believe you aren’t suitable for them. Your subconscious mind says that only a leap of faith can help you out of your situation.

If you don’t change your ways, there won’t be any end to your miseries. You won’t be able to turn back time and change your decisions even if you sold your soul to hell.

8. It’s a sign of health concerns

If you can’t breathe in your dreams, you might be suffering from health concerns like sinus problems. You might also have sleep apnea in which you have breathing or respiratory problems during sleep.

Your breaths become so shallow in sleep apnea that you can’t get proper shut-eye. This can lead to multiple serious health issues like cardiovascular issues or even death.

If this is your case, quickly seek a specialist and treat yourself.

9. You feel pressured

In reality, if you feel pressured by something, you might have trouble breathing in your dreams. For instance, it might be that someone’s demands make you uncomfortable.

Possibly your lover desires more riches or your employer forces you to overwork but you’ve had enough.

Alternatively, it might mean that you promised something to someone but recently realized you can’t keep your words. You can’t stand your guilty feelings and pressure yourself to make the impossible possible.

The dream asks you to protect yourself from the pressure of such demands.

10. You’re not ready to sacrifice your comfort

You might also have similar dreams when you’re not ready to accept change in life. You’re comfortable with the current situation and aren’t ready to let go of that.

You possibly tried something new and faced many hurdles. However, you’re afraid that you’ll lose your current stable situation and won’t complete the new journey successfully.

Out of fear, you stepped back and want to stay satisfied with what you currently own. The dream tells you that you can’t win big without risks. It urges you to believe in yourself and step towards change.

Dreaming of Not Being Able to Breathe  – 10 Types & Interpretations

In your dreams of being unable to breathe, if it’s due to smoke, you hide the truth or depend on someone excessively.

However, if it’s due to being underwater, you feel pressured. The small details mean a lot to interpret your dreams, so let’s dive into the list here…

1. Dream about not being able to breathe and trying to catch your breath

If you have a recurring dream about not being able to breathe and you are trying to catch your breath, it depicts your negative feelings like anxiety, tension, anger, or fear about an alien situation in life.

This is a message to step on your brakes and rejuvenate yourself. Take some time only for yourself because you deserve it.

It might also remind you of a past situation where you felt these overwhelming emotions together. Refer to the lessons back then and use them in your current situation. Only then will you reach your destination.

Contrarily, such dreams might also warn you about exhausting yourself. Don’t overwork yourself, or you’ll be sick or unfit to grab the golden opportunities.

2. Dream about not being able to breathe and holding your breath

In dreams, if you’re not being able to breathe because you’re holding your breath, it’s a message to leave the comfort zone. Otherwise, you can’t overcome your life hurdles. You must give up on some luxuries if you plan to gain big.

On the contrary, it might also imply that you have a persistent personality. Your strong will doesn’t allow you to give up easily and you already planned on compromising in certain parts of your life as a bargain.

Further, it may also imply that your conventional beliefs restrict you from knowing a complete truth.

So, your dream asks you to embrace new opinions and let go of your stubbornness. Broaden your horizon and consider the entire picture.

3. Dream about not being able to breathe and struggling to breathe

In your dream of not being able to breathe, if you struggled for breaths, it portends great fear in your real life. It might be a person, a situation, or a possible yet made-up situation in your mind.

Pay attention to your fears and work on them. Since it invaded your subconscious mind, you can’t let it disturb you anymore. It might be an overwhelming relationship or situation and need to break free from it.

Alternatively, such dreams may also denote a simple lesson that life is full of endless struggles and the mantra for the survival of the fittest is constant fights.

4. Dreams about not being able to breathe underwater

The sight of not being able to breathe underwater in dreams shows that you feel pressured in your waking life due to your anxieties about something.

This is a sign to take active measures to change the situation in your life. Seek around for mentorship about your issues.

For instance, speak to a relationship coach or marriage therapist for relationship issues. For health issues, ask around for a specialist. If it’s about your work life, confide in a trusted senior.

However, if it was because someone pushed you underwater, it predicts a new beginning in your life.

5. Dream about not being able to breathe in smoke

Dreams about being in a room full of smoke and feeling suffocated are possible when you’re stuck in a room on fire. 

This might imply that you excessively depend on someone in your waking hours. You must stop this immediately if you want to truly enjoy the taste of success.

The smoke might also resemble a “smokescreen”. So, it might also signify that you’re hiding the truth about yourself or a situation from others. You probably feel great fear that others won’t accept you after knowing the truth.

6. Dream about not being able to breathe for a short while

Dreams of not being able to breathe properly for a short duration portray that you’re feeling trapped in conscious hours. Possibly you were swimming in your dream, felt that you’ll drown, and panicked for a moment.

This dream also tells you to love and cherish your life while you have the time. If you’re busy with work all day long, this is a sign to put your workaholic side to sleep and enjoy your life with loved ones.

This might also be a sign that you’ll receive great rewards for your hard work. Probably, due to your work-centric nature, you’ll find a solution to your problems and grab a promotion, bonus, or recognition.

7. Dream about not being able to breathe because someone strangle you

If you dream about being unable to breathe because someone strangles you or attempts to strangle you, this depicts the presence of a person in your real life that can control you.

You feel uncomfortable and overpowered in their presence. However, you can’t do anything to rebel against them. This might be a parent, partner, or a superior at work.

You want to break free yet you don’t have the power or strength to. Think properly before you take any action in this situation.

8. Dream about not being able to breathe because of an item

Dreaming about being unable to breathe due to an item like a bag usually refers to a transitional phase in your waking life. You’ll soon close a chapter of your life and begin a new one.

You’ll soon learn new lessons in life and broaden your horizons. The new stage of life will bring you new challenges. However, you mustn’t fear this life change because it’ll lead you to spiritual enlightenment.

9. Dream about a loved one not being able to breathe

The subconscious vision of a loved one like a partner, parent, or child being unable to breathe is a worrisome view. However, the dream doesn’t imply anything deep and your loved one is safe.

Just for the record, they don’t have any breathing problems. This dream instead shows that you worry about your loved one frequently. Your worries are projected in your dreams this way.

If their actions or decisions worry you, communicate to them directly.

10. Dream about not being able to breathe due to pain

Dreams of being unable to breathe due to something painful symbolize that something in your waking life lowered your self-esteem and confidence. Despite your feelings, you try to hide them from others and even deny them.

Possibly, you feel angry or struggle to deal with a separation from a loved one. Or, you think that your life went haywire and you can’t do anything to bring it back on track.

Take a deep breath and identify the reasons behind such feelings. If something makes you feel bad about yourself, learn to let go of it.

Spiritual meaning of not being to breathe in a dream

Spiritually, being unable to breathe in dreams shows that you have yet to find an important aspect of your life and you can’t progress in life without it.

From the spiritual viewpoint, if you can’t breathe in your dreams, it’s symbolic of your shortcomings in certain areas of your life.

You feel less than others and constantly seek the missing piece of the puzzle. Since you can’t find it, you try to make do without the missing aspect, but that’s impossible.

Rather, this missing part is an important part to help you carry on in life. Only you can find what’s missing in your life and only then can you proceed to achieve greater goals.

Is it sleep paralysis when you can’t breathe or move in dreams?

Being unable to both breathe and move in dreams implies you feel trapped or have health concerns but it isn’t the same as sleep paralysis.

If you can’t breathe or move in your dreams, it might imply that something is seriously wrong in your life.

Possibly, you feel trapped in your waking life and it won’t allow you to progress. Or, you have some severe health conditions and this is one of the first symptoms.

However, this isn’t the same as sleep paralysis. In sleep paralysis, you can’t move in reality, not in dreams and your mind is wide awake. Some religions and cultures even compare it with evil beings sitting on your chest.

Questions to ask yourself to interpret not being able to breathe in dreams correctly

Since very few types of dreams are explained and/or available, you must focus more on your waking life to find a detailed dream interpretation. Be honest with yourself if you really want the end of this charade and shoot your answers here…

1. What was the cause behind your being unable to breathe? Was it you, another person, elements like water, smoke (earth/fire), or other inanimate objects?

2. How do you feel about your current life? Are you happy in your personal, professional, social, and other parts of it?

3. Do you feel pressured due to anything?

4. Are you willing to bring changes in your life?

5. When did you last get a checkup?

A word from ThePleasantDream

Dreams of being unable to breathe usually highlight the struggles of your waking life. In a way, these crazy, scary, and disturbing dreams try to help you focus on the lacking parts of your life.

Usually, you overlook these areas and compromise a lot in life. However, this inflicts deep emotional wounds in the long run. You might even regret relentlessly just because you took the easier road in life.

Understand the fact that in life, you must struggle for even peace. So, don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. Go the extra mile and chase your dreams instead of letting these dreams chase and corner you.

If you get dreams about cold feet then check its meaning here.