Why is it So Hard to Remember Our Dreams?
It’s Easy to Understand When You Look at the Numbers
First the “Dream” numbers:
- The average person has between 1,460 and 2,190 dreams each year.
- We often have as many as four different dreams a night. We dream during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which experts tell us happens multiple times while we sleep. REM sleep lasts about 5 minutes, so multiple times is a pretty safe bet.
- We don’t even remember 95% of the dreams we have!
We’re actually lucky if we clearly remember 3 dreams each week.
Several factors influence whether we remember a dream or not and even how vividly we remember the dream. One of these factors is WHEN we awake from the dream. If we briefly wake up during the night, just long enough to roll over and go back to sleep, we probably aren’t going to recall the dream we just had. We’re much more likely to remember the last dream we had during the night. This is why the dream we’re having right before the alarm goes off is the one we remember.
Another factor that influences our ability to remember a dream is HOW we wake up. If we’re able to lie still and sort of “glide” into a conscious state, we may “hold on” to the dream – especially if we get into the habit of concentrating on what we “just experienced” or what we just “went through.”
However, if we’re jarred awake by an alarm clock, a sudden noise, or even another person, our attention will immediately focus on them instead of what we were just “experiencing”. Then our woozy mind will immediately segue into thoughts of coffee, breakfast, the warmth and comfort of the bed (and how much we want to stay put!), things they have to do that day, etc.
It won’t take long for the dream to get lost in the shuffle.
When you think about all of the contributing factors, it’s a wonder we actually remember as many of our dreams as we do.
Tips for Remembering Your Dreams
- Get into the habit of focusing immediately on your dreams when you wake up. When you learn to automatically tie together “waking up” and “recalling what you just experienced,” you’ll slowly become an expert at dream recall.
- Some people are able to get in touch with their dreams by asking themselves, as soon as they wake up, “How do I feel right now?” They claim that the answer causes them to refocus on the dream. For example, if they answer, “Frustrated,” their mind will automatically go to why they are frustrated.
- Many people are helped by keeping a notebook and pen by their bed. Over time, waking up and writing down their dream becomes such a habit that the mind begins to remember even more details – they say they are always amazed by how much the brain actually recalls when it realizes that it’ll be “tested” on the details!
- The number one tip, however, for remembering your dream is this: Try to quiet your mind as much as possible in the morning. This may mean setting your alarm clock 10-15 minutes earlier to give yourself more time in the morning.
Whatever approach you take to improve your dream recall, I’m sure your effort will be more than worth the trouble!