Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams?

When I talk about dreams as being important to our well-being and that it is very healthy to work with and remember dreams, perhaps the most common question is:  Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams?”

There are many possible answers to this question and here or some to consider:

  1. No one told you how important dreams are so at some point in your life, perhaps as a small child, you chose to ignore them. Often parents will tell a child who has just woken up from a nightmare that it was “Just a dream!” and ignore the significance of it, sending a message to the child that dreams are not to be discussed, valued or remembered. As a result, at an early age, you may have made a habit of forgetting them.   A better parenting approach would be to listen to the child’s dream and explore his/her feelings around the dream in a non-judgmental manner, giving a message to the child that something important just happened that he or she can learn from.
  2. Our society values the day dreams but not the night dreams. Western society always encourages people to follow their dreams, i.e., the stuff of their fantasy such as the “dream job” or the “dream house” but it rarely encourages anyone to write down their night dreams or try to resolve issues in those dreams.  In some sects of Christianity, dreams are even thought to be the work of the devil—so unlike traditional societies where dreams were highly valued and heeded.
  3. Some dreams can be frightening, illogical and outlandish so it is often easier to just forget about them than to try to understand them. Dreams tend to run counter the logical, predictable ways of the waking rational mind, often presenting challenges many people either don’t want to face or find irrelevant to the demands of their lives.   Dreams will quite often question the dreamer on how her or she is living their life and this can be troublesome.
  4. Do you get enough sleep to dream? Studies have shown that you need to enter a deep sleep in order to dream.  Dreams that we remember usually occur when we are coming out of the deep sleep stage.  Sometimes they can come just before we enter that stage, making the dream hard to remember.   If you do not get enough sleep, chances are that your body is not going through the stages it needs in order to produce dreams you will remember.  You may not have remained in the post-deep sleep stage long enough for a dream to form.  This is very likely if you are habitually awakened by an alarm clock, rather than allowing yourself to come awake naturally.
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