What do stairs mean in dreams?

Two nights ago, I have some very vivid dreams.  The most prominent image that has stayed with me in the days since is of climbing a stairway.  This particular set of stairs had a peculiar attribute; they got more and more narrow as I climbed.  The destination, while unknown to me, was someplace I very much wanted to get to and I had the sense that the landscape above me was very special indeed and worth whatever challenges there might be in reaching it.

When I say the staircase got more narrow – I mean VERY narrow.  Like “I’m not sure I can squeeze myself through that space” narrow.  The kind of narrow that sparked my claustrophobia.  I pressed on and began to slip myself into the limited space that was before me and I woke before I managed to get through and to the other side.  I was no longer aware of where I was coming from and I lost all sight of where I was going.  All I knew was that I had to get through this difficult transition and that was what was getting all of my attention.

This image has lingered long after the dream because I think it is very emblematic of exactly where I am in my life.  The long journey up from the past has led to a moment of intense growing pains as I transition from what it is to be writing my first book and what it is to have my first book published and arrive at the next floor, ready to face the next chapter and all that it will entail.

In this spirit, I share the term Stairs from my upcoming book Dream Sight: A Dictionary and Guide to Interpreting Any Dream, available on February 8, 2011.


Universal Landscape:  Transitions in life, often directly connected to personal growth or assessment.

Dreaming Lens:  Were you climbing the stairs?  Were you ascending or descending?  Where were the stairs leading to and from?  How many steps were there?  What step were you on?  What shape were they in?  Were they steep?  Were they dangerous?  Did you slip or fall?

Personal Focus:  Stairs represent transition, change and personal growth.  When we use them, we make direct contact with our feet.  This makes them symbolic of change on a very specific, personal level.  Climbing up stairs should be interpreted as ascending to higher levels of consciousness.  Going down stairs connects to revisiting places you have already been or moving into lower levels of thought, such as anger and envy, or facing your own emotional development by revisiting old issues.

Where the stairs are is important to consider.  A stairway in a home is about personal transitions, whereas stairs in public environments reveal issues around how we operate out in the world, in full view of others.  There may be literal elements of this image in a dream as a dream that takes place on a stairway at your workplace will likely connect to issues that are work-related.  A stairway in a public park may reveal shifts that involve issues of relaxation and leisure.  Use the Dreaming Lens to focus your interpretation.

Your actual experience of climbing the stairs is the key to working with this symbol.  A treacherous experience may reveal fears attached to issues you are currently facing.  Running up and down stairs with ease may point to an ability to operate at different levels with grace if your life is calling you to do so.  Fear of where the stairs may lead correlate to investigations that lay ahead of you where the outcome is not clear.  The number of stairs, if known, can be considered using numerology (see Numbers).  Escalators indicate more ease in the transition, but must also be looked at in terms of the potential to gloss over the change that is occurring.  Remember that going down is as important as going up in life.  We must often revisit where we have been below before we can move upward effectively.  Eventually, we must be able to easily exist on many levels at once.

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40 Responses to What do stairs mean in dreams?

  1. Esther March 10, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    I have been having this exact dream for the last 5-6 years. The stairs exists is many situations as in I’m being chased, I’m leisurely walking up, running up happily, following a path…it seems to just find its way in my sleep.

  2. Tatati April 15, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    I had this narrow stairs dream yesterday. I could get out of this crazy building where the stairs were so narrow thay led nowhere, the elevator only took me up 2 levels. There were some lady doormans at the end of each stairs. In the end i got into my car and went down a really steep ramp in the garage, then when I finnally got out, the ramp went up really steep also, but i couldnt leave the vicinity of that damn building. It wasnt my home or my workplace.

  3. david fancher May 27, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    your dream was about stairs . I love stairs but doorman was chase me down . It was fun that i was flying down fast. I cant fly i am wake. i might get hurt . but dream was fun to fly down that someone was trying to get me . I dont know why someone trying to get me .

    Now you can read all my dream and can you tell me please .

    after my dad passed away and we went to funeral to make nice casket all the works . When I was late and the man who work funeral to take his office . It was match my dream . I had dreamed a long time ago and don’t know why I had dream . I went thru to funeral office and it was hit and goose bumps . I was wondering why my dream is waiting for match all that I dream about. I dream stairway and I don’t know where it is . I dreamed elevator and I don’t know where is . I dreamed in downtown . It was true it was plan to closed that it was slow closings in each floor . that mean the floor was empty to move new floor. I dreamed the strange playground with a long slide . it was fun and never know where is . I went a long ride to exciting park . I was so close to enter but wake up .

    When I dream elevator to play around ride up and down but it goes basement but the man was waiting for me and saw him . He said that if you come back again and see you again I will get police to get you. But I never see him again . I was tricked to hide from him.

    I did dream that I went thru time tunnel and felt earthquake and I got key and open surprise I enter home and tunnel was gone.

    I never forget that I watch scary movie and it was copy cat in my dream and monster got me my leg and woke up and next day I sleep it was waiting for me . I drank peppermint tea and it was gone .

    My dream is very slow to match dream . I dream someone house I don’t remember where it is little dark and came back I cant figure out where was the house. Not our house it was narrow in the hallway . I can feeling it was my dad parent house. I cant come back to visit because someone else living the house. I don’t want people to get hurt me . If they allow me I will get big hit goose bumps again

    what happened if I get all dream to get all complete together ?

    I cant go back Atlantis city that I did dream too far and I went to Library and found it was match . I was little boy and walk around . The city was stinking down and Ocean went through fast. I was stand by wall and saw the wall falling on me . I wake up .

    I remember that I had so many times dream about tornado was coming and it was not closer . but at last it was close enough and I sit with people by wall that tornado destroy inside and left empty .

    I cant explain more and what you think


  4. Hariee November 26, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    I dream about Staircases but like non of the above…I dreamt looking at Stairs not on them but many staircases, after another and seeing Glowing people saint like going up and down with yellowish kinda of background clouds or sky like, some stairs were short some were long infinity … how do i get the Meaning out of this where i m seeing it…not on it.

  5. virgy August 27, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    I always dream going up wooden stairs that are very shaky and one could fall easily. In the dream am always afraid to go up and I climb up at a very slow pace because am afraid of falling.

  6. courtney December 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    My dream (today) I was going up a spiral staircase with my daughter in my y arms (shes 2) and I looked down and saw a random man going down with a plate of food in one hand and a baby in the other. Except he was holding the baby upside down by his diaper and feces was coming out of it. Then, I just though “omgosh! Poor baby! That’s so nasty!” He was yelling at the baby “you wanted to come!” Then, I proceeded to move upward and onward. I finally got to a landing and asked where more stairs were (a strange man directed me) to the next set going up but I wanted to go down, but not the way I came. So, he showed me a staircase that was very narrow. It was colorful, like a child’s toy. I went down the fist 4 steps, but my daughter leaned forward and I felt like I was going to drop her, then I work up.

  7. Pavithrranoth January 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    i got a dream that i’ m descending or getting down the steps or stairs what ever you call, can you please kindly tell me the meaning of the dream which i’ m getting daily for the past few days

  8. mlennox January 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Clearly you are in a phase in your life where there is some investigation you are doing in lower levels of your consciousness – the past, hidden tendencies, unconscious material – anything that you would associated with that which is “below” the surface is being explored.

  9. Brittany April 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    ….Okay, so I have this recurring dream, that I am in a building that looks like my high school (or my middle school), but all there is is a stairway. I’m at the ground floor staring up at the staircase. The stairs aren’t that high up–only about 2 or 3 floors worth. And there’s a door at the top of the staircase. I know it leads somewhere, and I’m fully aware that I NEED to get to that door. There’s just one problem: There’s a huge gap in the middle of the staircase, making it impossible to get to the door.
    It’s really frustrating–in the dream, I’m both consumed by an intense need to reach and open that door, and an immobilizing fear that I will fall if I try to jump over that gap. So I never get anywhere in these dreams.
    One night, I was meditating on the possibility that I may have repressed memories from my childhood, and I decided to sleep on it. The result was another broken staircase dream. Is it possible that the unreachable door has those memories? What does my high/middle school have to do with it? And what does the gap represent?

  10. andrea April 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    I am 70 years still working , recently got sick, second day I dreamed that I working in an office, I finished my work envelopes, i was told to leave them on the desk…
    i was going home ..the stairs wooden and wide..
    others climbing with no difficulty……I was on the other side trying to hold into something afraid that I may fall, I grabbed into the wood and a piece started to come apart I made to the top ……where the exit door was…..I woke up

  11. ginny May 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    I dreamed last night of being at the top of many stairs with no railings. I was terrified and awoke feeling depressed. Any ideas re: its meaning?

  12. Karen Venus July 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I always dream and also remember all my dreams.
    This particular one got my attention even though they all do in a way,
    I was with my mother on top of a huge ship but we knew it was a cruise
    In our minds. I’ve never been on a cruise in real life so I was terrified in my dream
    on top of that it was going extremely fast and we were the only ones on top of the ship.
    The ocean wasn’t calm, huge waves were approaching and as the ship kept making unexpected
    turns I see a trail on the ocean.. A red trail and the ship headed that direction and I felt how the ship adjusted to that trail and started going slow.. All of a sudden my mother and I are inside the ship but no the pretty part we were inside the turbines or something like that and kept going up the stairs over and over.
    Then a girl warned us that it wasn’t safe to be there and we were scared because we knew in our minds that it made no sense what we were doing… So some people rescued us and we finally went in the ship and they all wanted to carry our bags that we never had during the dream. It wasn’t as random and crazy/wonderful like my every night dreams but it was organized and it kinda made sense.

  13. Richard Hazelip September 21, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I dreamed of trying to navigate stairs up to and down from a church official’s place (not unlike a bishop or a pope). Several of the metal stairs bent dangerously while I tried to navigate them. I arrive at my destination and coming down the stairs found them easily navigable. I was in stocking feet and could move quickly, unlike the previous ascent. I am considering leaving a part-time church job in which I am very comfortable for a full-time position that could create lots of stress for me (I don’t deal well with stress). Whether I make the move or not is pretty much up to me although the better position has not actually been offered. Change is a four-letter word for me, and I would rather remain comfortable with the current situation than to move into a potentially more stable financial situation.

  14. Amanda January 1, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    For years I have had a reoccurring dream about walking up stairs at home. I feel fine until I get to the last stair at the top where I go into a panic and have to turn and go back down. In the dream im determined to get to the top but fear (of heights as it appears in the dream) causes me to turn.

    However in my dream last night I was back at school (where i was a pupil and where i previously taught before starting a completrly different career) and was getting my Exam results. I was aware in my dream that I had already past the exams some ten years ago. In my dream I was told to go to room 35 to collect my results. When I got there I was told to go to room 11 which involved walking down a set of steps outside. In the dream I was terrified to walk down the steps as they were slippy and getting smaller eith every step I took. I froze and could not go down any further.

    What does this mean as previously my fear was going up stairs in the dream. This has left me totally confused and very unsettled today.

    help to understtand these dreams would be very much appreciated.

  15. mlennox January 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Amanda, I do not interpret dreams here on the site, for this is what I do for a living. I encourage people to share their dreams with each other on the posts. See my home page for details about having a dream interpreted! Happy New Year.

  16. Jackie January 4, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    I have a dream that Im going down the stairway, its weird because as I continue to go down on the first stairway the second one is going up then the third staircase is going down again. But even if its that the case I still continue to walk down of the stairways and do a little jump if the stairways is going up and then going down, Im confused with the meaning of it. Does it have any connection in my life?

  17. Amber January 6, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Out of the last 4 nights, I have dreamed 3 of those nights about stairs. In all three dreams, I am trying desperately to get up the stairs but on about the 3rd step my legs go completely weak, and I am literally pulling myself up the stairs by my arms. In all the dreams, I am completely struggling, legs aching, arms throbbing to get up them, which I do, but it is because of my arms pulling me, not from help of others. Really hope I have a different dream tonight!

  18. Lissette January 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    I am 41 years old and I had a dream going up the stairs of my building. I live on the third floor but when I got to the second floor it was pitch black and could not see a thing. I got so scared that I ran back downstairs and then I woke up. What does it mean?

  19. Dawn March 13, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Hi…I keep having a dream that im in a public place but for some reason there are stairs ..but I Don’t go UP …or..Down the stairs im trying to fit through a set of Steps. ..I have to say in my dream I’m forcing myself to get through. .the dream scared me so bad everytime I have it I wake up in a Panic attack. ..Someone Please Please help me to understand. ..

  20. Natasha May 14, 2014 at 1:15 am #

    I often have this weird dream that my house, or another house, has an extra staircase that has either not been discovered, or that people try to avoid, and stick to the regular one, but I turn out to be brave and go down this new staircase, into an unknown part of the house. I have no idea why I dream this, although it’s probably quite a common dream.

  21. Chloe May 25, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    I dreamed about a new house last night. It was a very beautiful house. When I climbed up its stairs, it began to shake and it has no railings. Can u please help me with this? Thank u so much.

  22. VooDew MoonDragon July 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    I’ve been having a great deal of trouble sleeping at night so dreams have been rather dull and elusive. Last night/this morning the dream was very vivid….I was in a house, apparently not my own. On the second floor of the house there were cats and newborn kittens who were quite unhealthy and stairs leading up to an attic. The stairs were very narrow, growing more so as they ascended straight up. There was no angle to them at all just straight up. For some unknown reason I HAD to get up into that attic and I woke as I was at the top step, wondering how if I DID make it into the attic I would then get back down.

  23. teri August 22, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    My dream was of the most beautiful staircase. It was the kinda staircase you would find at the theater,, and this was in a house i was viewing to live in. The strange thing was my friend lived in the house many years ago,but it didn’t have the staircase. As walking round the rooms they were very nicely decorated. Apart from the bathroom. In the dream i was sitting on the toilet looking in the bath when a force came in the bathroom . The force of this went right through me and nearly knocked me in the bath. At this point i wok up. This dream has really scared me. Anyone no wot it was about. Teri x

  24. Isaac October 26, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    I had a dream that my girlfriend who works at the salon had many customers and the lady we both the salon from had a sister and brother who were waiting for me at the salon so could them. We closed late from the salon so the had to sleep over in our house. U then reaslised that whiles i was taking them to the room they will sleep, we were climbing a wooden staircase to a room at the top. We got to the top room only to find my pictures and their elderly sister there in the room and wondered how my pictures taken during my tertiary education got there. In some of the pictures i was wearing black suit and others ash suit. The guy among us took one of my pictures and said is very nice so he wants to keep it but i took it from him and said to myself my senior brother might bring my pictures here. Thank you

  25. Mary Ann Cardella December 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    My Mom passed away over a year ago and came into my dream and told me she can’t climb the stairs in my home, she had lived with me….. What does that mean?

  26. Monte May 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    I had a dream last night of climbing stairs, I was holding my toddler-aged child, in my arms. It was a steep set of stairs outside. It was cold, very cold and dark. I was w/ a small group of people that I did not know but I know they were trying to help me. I remember getting to the last bit of stairs & at the landing just above were a few people. They were standing & waiting at an elevator. They looked at me, as though expectant . . . Like I needed to get where they were. The last, I think, 3 steps were missing. I was so afraid. There was a kind man there trying to make a makeshift step for me. But if it didn’t work me and my child would fall. And I glanced below, about a hundred feet down was a sheet of thick frozen ice. I was so afraid. If we fell . . . Then I woke. I woke before knowing if we got to the top, or not.

  27. Jennifer Taylor May 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    I just recently I woke from a dream going down a very very narrow staircase. And as I descended the staircase became more and more easily for me to fall out, almost as of the stairs started to appear backwards and I couldn’t hardly see the next step in front of me. But there was a break, in the stairs, while still narrow and squished, where I began to cry out in fear. Now, in my dream, I had an appointment somewhere, but the building itself was very open. As I got to the break and sat down for fear of falling out, a woman came next to me, on my left, as there was a flat level area on the other side of the stairs, who sat down, noticing my fear, but began to speak to me in Spanish.. I kept telling her I didn’t speak Spanish, please speak English. Then I looked to the right of the staircase, as I still sat, and another woman stood there. There seemed to be more activity on her side, which too appeared to be a flat floor, but slightly elevated more than the side on the left. On this side, the people appeared to be wearing scrubs and white masks. This woman heard my crys as well, and began to speak to me over the other woman whom was on my left, feeling like she could explain to me better than the 1st on why the staircase went down the way it did. But she too, spoke Spanish, and I told her I didn’t understand, and to please speak English. Someone on the right side, not sure who, but I thought was a mans voice, said, everybody here only speaks Spanish. As I looked back at the descending staircase, at which at this time, I could see my destination(about as far as the top of the escalators to the bottom in a mall), the steps were no longer there, but a blue, very narrow, slide to get to the bottom. I then woke up, and never made it to the bottom. Any thoughts?

  28. Melinda August 30, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    I had a dream where I was in a building on the top floor. I was abiut to get into the elevator but the lights flickered, so I took the stairs. I was running down what seemed to be 6 or 7 flights of dark stairs. pushing off each door to each level to make me go faster. It seemed as I was being chased. when I got to the bottom I tried to use me phone. Everything was blurry and I was having a hard time using my phone. I tried to call my mom but when the call connected I accidentally hung up. My phone was a cylinder shape. I got outside and started screaming for “mommy”. I woke up in sweats still saying “mommy”
    what could this mean?


  29. Jose Castillo December 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    My dream was also stair related. In my dream we are in my house, guests are over, family and friends mostly from work. The stairs are broken falling apart. I’m trying to repair them as my dad hosts the dinner. People still use the stairs as I’m trying to fix them. I can’t seem to find the right tools to fix them. When I finally do and begin to fix the stairs a large rat jumps at my right shoulder…then I wake up.

  30. Dreamerr February 6, 2016 at 5:20 am #

    I dreamt I was walking in the stairway 1st floor going to the 2nd floor. My emotions at this point were of happiness

    But somehow I kept going to the 3rd floor and met this ghost – a young man “he was going down the stairs as I was climbing up” and as I am busy climbing reaching the 3rd floor it was dark and there was water – water of which I stepped in with my foot. So I headed back.

    My emotions at this point I felt that this is not were I am supposed to be. So I headed back

    Same dream again as I was climbing the stair way found myself in the same floor. But this time as I was climbing up this young man smiled at me and he was walking down. from that 3rd floor.

    Then again I came across a dark abandoned 3rd floor I look around and realised I dnt have to be on this 3rd floor – it was dark and seemed like its been raining hence it was wet and musky on the ground. My feeling at this point was why do I keep going to the 3rd floor whereas I know I was going to the 2nd floor

    I walked down and the 2nd floor had light and a calming feeling. I started singing and that’s when I woke up & this man “ghost” in my dream looked like someone I know but not related to

    The stairs were broad and clean until I reached the 3rd floor – dark and wet and I peaked in on the floor it was just empty and seemed like an abonded floor.

  31. Amanda March 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    I have had a recurring dream for years now. … I dream of a big old 3 story house… rough shape, I climb the first and second set of stairs, but when I get to the 3ed set of stairs I can’t get to the top and the stairs are like sinking sand. Trying to climb them is very tiring and that’s how I feel when I wake up… my legs feel so tired and I have not made it to the 3ed floor…. what does this mean? In my head I know the exact location of this old house but have been very eerie about driving past it. If it was a real house that would make me very nervous.

  32. Nancy O'Neal April 26, 2016 at 1:01 am #

    They are always marble stairs. In several I am walking down and I come to a stair that is impossible to take the next step because it is so far down I would have to jump down too far.

  33. gie July 10, 2016 at 5:25 am #


    Can you interpret my dream?

    Here’s what happen:

    In my dream a see a stair up. And each steps.. it has two people in white holding a branch of green leaf. It’s like a stair way to heaven.

    I wonder why I dream like this one.. can you help what this means?

    Thank you so much for your help.


  34. Karime Touchene August 10, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    I had a similar dream of a big square stair case there were no bannisters as me and 3 friends got down it started to get tricky and catch us off guard, a friend got into a rhythm of going down fast and sticking to the left but there was a surprise ledge jump for him which he stumbled his leg looking for the support of an old plank but slid underneath falling. Breaking a leg and losing 2 hands from the falling debris and me panicking trying to find his 2 hands as he looked as his bloody stumps in despair. Was like something out the omen

  35. JennS September 8, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    In my dream I am walking down a very dangerous set of stairs with my “special needs” nephew in my arms and people are at the bottom of the stairs blocking the path by sitting with purses and backpacks on the stairs. I tell them to move because it is a fire safety violation.

  36. JennS September 8, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    And I’ barefoot in the dream. At the bottom of the stairs is an entrance to a zoo…

  37. Kate October 16, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    I was walking down the stairs and when I reached the bottom I was sucked into a black hole and then the dream ended. I have had this dream twice this week.

  38. Lorena De La Garza November 8, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    Anyone know what it means when you dream about going up the stairs that never end? But there is a twist, In my dream as I kept going every step, there was a cat. so practically a stairway of cats.

  39. Sierra November 20, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    I’ve been having a dream about stairs for years it seems. In the dream I’m in an old or abandoned building or in the hospital I worked at years ago. Anyway I’m in a dark staircase going up these old rusty metal/steel stairs that seem to never end. Sometimes I’ll venture into a door that’ll lead to another staircase or my mom’s neighborhood(odd I know). If it leads to another staircase I just keep climbing with a sense of urgency, not like someone’s chasing me but a sense of it have to get up these stairs quickly. Once I reach the final door sometimes,it leads to just a rooftop and then I turn around and go back into the door and it turns into me walking into an open air hotel where everything is peaceful. Everything is clean and white the fountains and pools surround every inch of the place. The water is a cool crystal clear blue and there are palm trees everywhere and everyone is happy

  40. Tiffany Lee December 8, 2016 at 3:43 am #

    Ive dreamed about stairs twice. First I was going up but a little lost. The second was a different setting. I was trying to go down but something kept jerking me back up. Like a spirit.