Why can’t I remember my dreams?

+70 votes
asked Feb 28, 2015 in Relationships by Demi (860 points)
Sometimes I can’t remember my dreams. It’s like you’re having an adventure in some kingdom, slaying a dragon to save the damsel in distress. All of the sudden, your alarm rang and you forgot what dreams you just had. Then you’re now left with an amazing feeling, but you don’t know why exactly. I tried to recall the dreams, just curious on why I was so excited when I woke up, but I just can’t. Why can’t I remember most of my dreams?

2 Answers

+27 votes
answered Mar 10, 2015 by Deyanira (740 points)
Scientists themselves aren’t sure why some people remember dreams while others only fragment at most. There are two types of categories for people, in your case, the ones that could easily recall the dreams every single day and the ones that only able to remember them a couple of times a month. We shall call them the “high recallers” and the “low recallers” respectively. In an experiment, the two groups are played a sound clip of their own name and have their brain activity scanned. While asleep, the clips are played at a soft enough volume that the volunteers will not wake up. The results show no difference in either of the groups’ brain activity. They are played the same clip again this time while awake. Interestingly, the research shows that the “high recallers” experience a constant fall in their alpha brain wave upon hearing their own names, in comparison to the “low recallers” of course.

In theory, a decrease in the alpha wave means a higher consciousness to respond to external stimuli, in this case, the call of their names. This occurs in both groups as predicted, as both do show lower alpha wave level while awake. However, the “high recallers” brain wave decreases for a longer period, meaning a more active brain upon hearing their name. In layman’s term, people that could easily recall their dream are more sensitive to sound while awake. Although, there is no difference for both groups’ alpha wave while asleep, it increases as expected but with the higher relative increase for the “high recallers”. If you are more likely to respond to the call of your own names, then it suggests that you will remember your dreams more.
+5 votes
answered Mar 3, 2015 by Latanya (770 points)
You don’t necessarily remember all your dreams in the first place, only the last dream you have before you wake up. Every person has 2 to 3 dreams on average in 8 hours of sleep, with only 2 of those hours dedicated to dreaming. Some have suggested that dreaming is the method we process everything that have happened throughout the day, like a librarian organizing and returning the books to its shelves. It organizes and process information. So it’s just your brain keeping its engine ready at night. All researchers agree on one thing, that dreams do no function to create new memories. Even if you seem to meet a new person in a dream, that person could be someone you glanced at on the street, or a combination of people you knew of.

As to why we only remember fragments of our dreams? It is not that surprising. We only recall something that is exceptionally memorable, which usually only consist of 5% of the whole dream time. So we are likely to remember a dinner date with the Dalai Lama and Ozzy Osbourne, than the dull stuff like doing chores. Why can’t I remember my dreams that was similarly epic you ask? Well, no one knows either. Every person is different, in my case, the only kind of dreams that I could always vividly remember is when I get chased by zombies or something out of H.P Lovecraft horrors. Quoting a 1980s British philosophist, Eurythmics, sweet dreams are made of this. Just that no one knows exactly what “this” is made of.
commented Jan 29, 2016 by Kalipark14 (100 points)
My psychology teacher (hes  a POOR excuse of a teacher) is making us write in a "dream log" every day. I told him I rarely even remember my dreams. So far we've wrote in the dream log 4 times. 3/4 times I put "no memory."  I made up a dream even one day. He looks at it and goes "so you've only had one dream?" And I respond "I only remembered one" and he mumbles under his breathe and turned around on his computer chair he sits on all of class, and gets back to the computer.
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