Why Can’t We Remember Our Dreams?
Have you ever woken up from a long night’s sleep, or even a quick nap, and you could swear you had an incredible dream! But, when someone asks you what it was about, you draw a complete blank. Sound familiar? Most of us have accepted the fact that we can’t always remember our dreams, even if they seem extremely vivid at the time. But why is this? Is there an actual science behind it, or are we just forgetful after being well-rested?
In truth, there is no actual scientific evidence as to why we can or can’t remember specific dreams. There are several theories, however, and one common conclusion: Our dreams are forgotten if we don’t immediately transfer them from our short term memory to our long-term memory. This isn’t exactly something that we can do automatically, so if you do remember your dream when you wake up, it’s important to recall specific scenes, words, etc. that happened, so you can store those details in your long-term memory, thus making it easier to recall your dream as a whole.
The Dream Theory
Some of the theories attached to this, however, can make it seem difficult to consolidate your dreams into specific ‘filing cabinets’ of your brain. For example, some suggest that we produce different brain chemicals while we’re sleeping than we do when we’re awake. These neuro-chemicals can make it virtually impossible for us to remember our dreams. Another popular theory is that we are so distracted by the dream itself during sleep, that our brain simply can’t work simultaneously to create the dream, and to remember it all at once. Essentially, we aren’t ‘paying attention’ to our dreams, no matter how many times we might wake up in a night, or how vivid the dreams might seem at the time.
Dreams themselves can’t occur unless we are fully in a REM sleep, but it’s important to understand this is also your deepest form of sleep. You may have up to seven dreams in one night, but only remember bits and pieces of one of them. Even if you get a full eight hours of sleep, it’s safe to say that only two of those hours would be spent dreaming. Out of an eight hour period of multiple dreams, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to remember what happened in our dreams. They are instantly scattered, and unless we can take the time to store them right away, there’s a good chance we’ll never remember every detail of them. So, take pride in remembering the dreams you can – even if it’s just a few minor details. And, if you can’t remember your dreams, you’re not alone!
If you’d like to get a better grasp on your dreams, or remember them, one idea is to write them down or record them on your phone the instant you wake up. It may help spark your memory later on. However, if you’re waking up multiple times a night after dreaming, this can become somewhat of a tedious task. Still, remembering your dreams is a fun way to take a look at our own minds when we’re sleeping. Sweet dreams!