Remember your dreams
Before we explore what dreams mean, let’s look at some things you can do to help remember your dreams. Some people claim they never dream, but the truth is that everyone dreams , though many people don’t remember them at all, while others remember only fragments that fade quickly.
If you would like to improve your ability to remember your dreams, there are things you can do to help:
- Formulate intent: Just say to yourself as you go to sleep, “Tonight I will remember my dreams.” This deceptively simple idea can be very effective.
- Wake naturally: Though not always possible, try not to wake to the sound of an alarm etc. If this is usually unavoidable, try on weekends or holidays.
- Don’t move: Do not roll over or get straight out of bed, take some time to lie just as you were when you were dreaming. Keep your eyes closed and gently see if the traces of the dream remain.
- Write down what you remember: Keep a dream journal next to your bed. Scribble the first thoughts, images etc. that come to mind. These may fade quickly, but the reminder of what was in your mind can be like a “key” to open up a memory of the rest of the dream later.
- Pay attention during the day: Sometimes a dream seems entirely forgotten despite all the gentle wake-up procedures you employ, but then may resurface later when something like a song or someone’s strange hat triggers a memory of it. Make a note and write it down. Later, when you have time to reflect quietly, this sound or image may lead you to other memories of the dream.
All these suggestions may help dream recall, but if you are really stuck, there could be other issues to consider. If you can’t remember your dreams despite trying the above suggestions, consider:
- Exhaustion: If you are very tired, you are far less likely to have much REM sleep and instead have more “deep sleep.” While it is now believed dreams occur in both REM and deep sleep, those dreams in deep sleep are often far more difficult to recall.
- Alcohol or medications: These can effect sleep patterns and inhibit dream recall.
- Anxiety: General anxiety can mean you can’t stop thinking about the things bothering you, so you can’t pay attention to dreams, or conversely stress can cause dreams that are too confronting to deal with and you may choose (consciously or not) to avoid these for a time.
- Bad dream memories: If you had nightmares as a child, or if you were ridiculed for talking about dreams or told to ignore them, you may have a subconscious block that believes dreams are bad or useless, and this can make it difficult to remember them.
There is no easy solution to these issues, but recognising them can be the first step in dealing with them. Eventually for most people, if the desire is there, your subconscious will break through and try and suggest its own answers to the puzzle, helping you to remember your dreams more often.
Next week we will start to look at some of those actual puzzle pieces.