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How to Remember Your Dreams

March 3, 2012 on 11:58 pm | In Dream Journals, Dream Research, Dreamwork | No Comments

Some people say that they do not dream, but that is an illusion. We all dream. Some of us do not remember our dreams. Certain things can interfere with dreaming, such as being constantly awakened, or taking certain kinds of medications.  

Constant Awakening Prevents Dreaming 

As you probably know, there are several levels of sleep. Most dreaming, the dreams we remember, occur during the so-called rapid-eye-movement (REM) levels of sleep.

Unfortunately it takes our bodies anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to reach the first REM cycle of the night. If you are awakened before that, when you go back to sleep, the process starts over. 

Sleep laboratory researchers have found that by awakening people over and over before they reach the REM cycle, they can keep people from dreaming—at night. After awhile, though, people start dreaming uncontrollably with their eyes wide open. In other words, without being allowed to dream, they start to hallucinate. 

If your only choice is to try to sleep in a noisy or insecure environment, your sleep cycles may be short-circuited by constantly being awakened before you get to dream. Medical residents or interns and others who only get to doze while on call in hospitals for days at a time are good examples of this kind of sleep deprivation. 

Stop Suddenly Awakening

If you can do without the jarring sudden awakening caused by an alarm clock, studies show, you are more likely to remember your dreams. If someone in the household can quietly awaken you, that could replace the alarm. Best practice is to get enough sleep (always a good health idea) and allow yourself to awaken naturally. 

Stay still for a few moments when you first wake up. Spend that time gently allowing yourself to recall any dreams. 

Check Your Medications

If you take sleeping pills, you may be suppressing your dreams—or suppressing the memory of them. If you can learn to sleep without pills, you will have a better chance of remembering your dreams. 

Some other medications may interfere with dreaming. Unfortunately they may be something you cannot safely do without. Remembering your dreams is valuable, but no one is suggesting that you risk your health over it.

Still, if you are doing the other things suggested in this article, and you still can’t remember your dreams, you might consider asking your doctor if another medication would do the same job without the side effect of suppressing your dreams. If you plan to do that, I suggest doing a bit of on-line research on the negative health effects of dream suppression and presenting those to your doctor. That way s/he will be more likely to take you seriously.

Form the Intent to Remember

Research shows that just the act of regularly trying to recall your dreams daily and making an attempt to write them down encourages your mind to remember them. It is as though you are proving to your subconscious mind that you are willing to pay attention, and so it tries harder to reach you.

Dream recall may not happen immediately. It could take a few days, weeks, or even months. But if you make a habit of trying to remember your dreams, and you make brief notes of any dream feelings or ideas you do recall, gradually your dreams will start to come back to you. 

Writing Down Your Dreams 

Any notebook will do to record your dreams. Maybe the term “dream journaling” sounds pretentious or time-consuming to you. If so, consider just carrying a plain little notebook all the time. You can reserve it from dream notation, or you can use it for other things, too. The important thing is to do it.

Robert Moss, who teaches people to work with their dreams, says to jot down whatever wisp of dream memory you have when you first wake up if possible. But he also says that bits of dream memory may come to you at any time of the day, so you should be prepared to jot down whatever you can whenever you remember it. By doing that, he says, you often end up remembering the whole dream.

Never Give Up on Your Dreams

Remember that we all dream. If your circumstances can be changed to make dreaming and dream recall easier for you now, do so. Make sure your bed is comfortable and the room is quiet. (Falling asleep in front of the TV is not helpful!)

If you cannot change your current circumstances, sometimes they change themselves. The baby learns to sleep through the night, the doctor changes your prescription, the noisy neighbor moves away, and so on. 

Meanwhile, never give up. We all naturally dream. And we can almost all learn to remember our dreams. It just takes a little more work for some of us than for others.

Remembering your dreams is worth the effort. It can be an aid to mental and physical health. It can also be entertaining and enlightening. 

Sweet Dreams to Paulie and to You

This post was inspired by a comment Paulie made about the post that said orienting your bed north-south (instead of east-west) increases dreaming. Somehow, although I can see the comment in the control panel area of this blog, it has not shown up on the page with the post. So I want to say thank you to Paulie for the comment.

Please keep trying to remember your dreams. It is worth the effort. 

And thank you to all the other readers of blog, too, especially those who take the time to comment. I consider all of you to be a real blessing.

Sweet dreams.

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