WELLNESS
07/13/2011 02:43 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2011

Dreams About Drinking Water: Dream Meanings Explained

Dreams about drinking water are a fairly common theme at bedtime. If you or a loved one has been covering this ground at night, you may have questions about what it all might mean. As part of a Huffington Post series on dreams and their meanings, we spoke to Volney Gay, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, religion and anthropology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., to get expert advice about the meanings of your or your loved one’s dreams about drinking water. Note: While dream analysis is highly subjective, this post might provide some insight into why this dream occurred or is recurring.

What do dreams about drinking water mean?
“Jungian therapists don’t assign a meaning to a particular dream element,” Gay explains. “Instead, explore the meaning yourself. What does drinking water mean to you? Why were you drinking the water? Were you hot and thirsty? Was the water refreshing? These all affect the meaning of your dream.”

What can I learn about myself from dreaming about drinking water?
“Explore the dream in a way that’s meaningful to you,” encourages Gay. “Jung painted his dreams. He found that by drawing or sketching he was able to remember more detail." Some people use dream diaries, drawing or sculpture to explore their dream images.

Are there any tricks to avoiding or inducing dreams about drinking water?
“To re-experience the dream,” says Gay, “think about the dream and feel the emotions of the dream.” When it comes to recurring dreams, don’t ignore, explore. “Recurring dreams are nagging thoughts,” he says. “You need to explore the source of the dream image. Dreams tell us where we’re going emotionally.”

Beyond analysis, what cultural symbolism can be found in dreams about drinking water?
We all have dreams that explore those transitional periods in life: graduation, marriage, death. Our dreams explore these transformations. According to Gay, "Water is an archetypical symbol -- it symbolizes transformation itself. Drinking water can symbolize internalizing these transformational moments.”

Who tends to have dreams about drinking water most frequently?
Water is a common dream element for both men and women. In general, adults dream more often and remember more than children.

Volney Gay studied at Reed College and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology and religion from the University of Chicago. He was a graduate fellow at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago and is board-certified in adult psychoanalysis, is a supervising and training analyst and a member of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, which is an affiliated society and institute of the American Psychoanalytic Association.