What Does It Mean When You Dream You Have No Voice?
Not being able to say what's on your mind, or shouting out loud but being ignored, are common dream occurrences. Here's what it could mean.
We often have dreams where we’re trying to speak, but the words just don’t come out. It can be super unnerving to dream about bugs crawling over you, but not being able to yell out loud. It’s even scarier when there’s a fire happening in your dream, and you can’t alert someone for help.
Other times we feel like we’re in a bad version of a 4 Non Blondes video, where we do scream at the top of our lungs “WHAT’S GOING ON?!” — only for no one to hear us, no matter how close they are to us, and how loudly we shout (imagine how frustrating it is when your ex pops up in your dream, you ask them what’s going on, and they ignore you…).
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A paper on the subject of sounds in dreams, published in PLoS One, reported that sound was present in 80 percent to 100 percent of their research participant’s dreams, including “122 instances of the dreamer speaking.” So dreaming about having no voice, and other speech-related dreams, are bound to happen to you at some point.
We spoke with Nicole Eichelberger, a BSM-certified sleep expert specializing in insomnia, apnea, and circadian rhythm disorders, and a consultant at Mattressive, to learn more about how our vocal cords play a role in our subconscious sleeping self.
“Overall, dreams of not being able to speak can be a sign that you need to work on your communication skills or address any emotional or psychological barriers that are preventing you from expressing yourself,” she tells HelloGiggles. “It may be helpful to reflect on the emotions and situations in your waking life that may be contributing to these dreams and work on strategies to improve your confidence and assertiveness.”
What does it mean when you have no voice in your dream?
“Dreams about losing your voice suggest a need for self-expression, assertiveness, and confidence,” Eichelberger elaborates. “Dreaming that you have no voice may represent a feeling of being unheard or misunderstood.”
They could also represent your existing insecurities, like feeling powerless, or anxieties, which could signify a physical health issue, especially in terms of communicating effectively. “You may be doubting your own voice or feeling uncertain about your opinions and ideas,” she adds.
What is our brain trying to tell us when we try to speak in a dream, but nothing comes out?
Sometimes you try to speak in a dream, but nothing comes out, and it feels awkward or scary, like a choking sensation taking over. Eichelberger says this can be a sign that your “subconscious mind is processing some emotional or psychological blockages related to communication.”
Maybe it’s a subtle fear of judgment or rejection, especially related to giving or receiving criticism. It can also represent inner conflicts and low self-esteem.
“You may doubt your own worth or feel inferior to others, which makes it difficult to assert yourself or speak up for what you believe in,” Eichelberger states.
What does it mean when we can speak in a dream, but no one hears us?
Then of course, we have the opposite problem: you’re able to speak, even scream what you’re trying to say, but it feels like no one is listening or that no one can hear you. Sometimes, this can be interpreted as feeling like there’s a lack of influence or power in our lives, or some kind of disconnection (either mental or physical, like a technical issue), and our natural reaction is to get louder and louder to overcompensate.
“When you can speak in a dream, but no one hears you, it may indicate a sense of frustration or a feeling of being ignored or overlooked in your waking life,” Eichelberger adds.
She also advises practicing “active listening and acknowledging others’ voices and opinions,” which may also help you feel heard and valued in your relationships and interactions.
Is there a way to control in a dream when we can speak and when we can’t?
“Yes, it is possible to control your ability to speak or not speak in a dream, with some practice and intention,” Eichelberger explains. “The technique for controlling your dreams is called lucid dreaming, which is the ability to become aware that you are dreaming while you are still in the dream state.”
Once you are aware that you are dreaming, you can manipulate the dream environment and your actions within the dream. You can try doing some reality tests, like testing your ability to speak. Dream journaling when you wake up, and setting intentions before you go to sleep, are also tips Eichelberger suggests to help control what thoughts race through your mind at night.
“Lucid dreaming takes practice and patience,” she adds. “With time and effort, you can develop the ability to control your dreams and improve your dream experiences.”