Oct 29, 2010

Forgetting Dreams

I've had a bit of a fascination about dreams lately and how they can be used for inspiration for plot ideas.
In 7 Tips for Keeping a Writer's Dream Diary, we talked about writing down your dreams because they're so hard to remember. I was curious. Why are they hard to remember? So... I did some research.

Do we all dream?
Seems to be a difference of opinion here. The Naked Scientist says we probably have more than four dreams each night. The one we remember is more likely the one we have as we come out of deep sleep towards waking.
But, Dreamsearch believes some people dream very little or maybe not at all. Although this site also says we are not sure if animals dream, and if you've ever owned a dog and seen them running, growling and wagging their tail in their sleep, you'll know better.

Why do we forget dreams?
The Naked Scientist tells us that dreams create short-term memories, and because we often don't consciously move those images to our long-term memory, we quickly forget them. This is why you are more likely to remember a dream if you are awakened during it.

Other theories included Freud's idea that dreams are our secret wishes and desires, so we decide to suppress them. That doesn't really work for me because there are plenty of dreams I wish I could have suppressed, but didn't.

And that because we move in our dreams through our imagination we are tying our memory to that kinetic memory, but when we wake we move our body physically (stretch, sit up or reach for the alarm) and this breaks the link between our dream state and physical state. This theory suggests lying very still upon waking, with your eyes still closed to recall your dream before moving your body.

I wonder if my pets remember their dreams?


  1. A Dream Journal and a nightlight are great ideas. I hate it when I have woken up from a vivid dream thinking there is no way I'll forget it and I'll make notes in the morning. There is nothing more frustrating than to know I wanted to remember the details, but have no idea what the dream had been about (beyond a very basic who, what or where)!

  2. I have a strange recurring dream. Not identical at all, but I dream about houses. All sizes, luxury levels etc...

    I often wonder if I was some kind of Real Estate Tycoon in another life, if there is another life.

    Anyway, some say this life is but a dream. Difference is - sometimes we remember too much of it, and live in the past.

    I'm rambling, sorry.