What Remembering a Dream Actually Mean - A Beginner's Guide



It is said that five minutes after the end of a dream, we have forgotten 50 percent of the dream content. Ten minutes later, we forgot 90 percent of the content. Why is that? We don’t easily forget our daily actions. The fact that they are so hard to remember makes them seem less important.

Theories about remembering your dreams

Freud theorized that we forget our dreams because they contain our repressed thoughts and wishes and so we wouldn’t want to remember them anyway. Other research points to the simple reason that other things get in the way. We are progressive by nature, so remembering something when we first wake up is difficult.

L. Strum Pell, a dream researcher at the same time as Freud, believed that several things contribute to our inability to remember dreams. First, he said many things are quickly forgotten when you first wake up, such as physical sensations. He also considered the fact that many dream images are not very intense and would therefore be easily forgotten. Another reason, and probably the strongest of his theories, is that we traditionally learn and remember, both by association and by repetition. Since dreams are usually unique and somewhat vague at first, it makes sense that they can be difficult to remember. For example, if someone utters a phrase to you that doesn’t immediately click with something in your experience, the person may need to repeat it in order to remember or even understand it.

How to improve your dream memory

There are many resources on the web and in print that will give you tips on how to better remember your dreams. Those who believe that we have a lot to learn about ourselves from our dreams are big proponents of dream diaries. Here are some steps you can take to increase your dream memory:

Tell yourself that you will remember your dreams when you go to bed.

Set your alarm clock to go off every hour and a half so you wake up around the times you exit REM sleep — when you’re most likely to remember your dreams.

Keep a notepad and pencil next to your bed.

Try to wake up slowly to stay in the “mood” of your last dream.