Considering that each of us has four or five periods of dreaming each night, most of our dreams are forgotten. But for people who observe family or friends regularly remembering a dream, and yet themselves are seldom if ever able to recall one, the question arises as to why such a wide divergence occurs.
There are many different reasons why dreams may be forgotten.
The most obvious is that we do not give enough attention to our dreaming process. When people become intrigued by what they might be dreaming, and develop a motivation to remember, they frequently start recalling several dreams a week. From this standpoint, the reason why some people have always remembered might be that they have always been either intrigued or anxious about their nightly dramas.
The way we rise in the morning has an effect upon this type of memory.
If our attention is immediately turned outwards on waking, there is little hope of recalling a dream unless it has great power, as might a nightmare. Spending a few moments leaving our mind open to memory aids recall. Any visual, or even muscular activity, will fill consciousness with new and powerful impressions which might obliterate the subtler impressions of dreaming. Rorschach suggested not opening the eyes, and remaining physically still. Tests also showed that passage of time, even a few minutes, between dreaming and attempting to remember causes many dreams to fragment and be lost. So any attempts to remember need one to record the dream quickly, by speaking it to one’s bedmate, using a tape recorder by one’s bed, or writing it down.
Some dreams have rather misty or fragmentary imagery and theme, while others are clear, concise and dynamic. These latter are more easily remembered. There may be times when we sleep with longer periods of wakefulness, perhaps due to feeling cold, or uncomfonable in a strange bed, which cause us to remember as we are nearer consciousness. Because dreams occur in cycles during the night, if something wakes us during a dream cycle the memory is easier, if only because less time has elapsed since occurrence. So another method of captunng a dream is to have one’s alarm gently sound prior to the time one usually wakes.
The last hour or so of sleep includes a long period of dreaming, so waking in this period with intent to remember can often capture the quarry.
Thereare also psychological reasons for forgetfulness. Dreams often deal with past areas of experience which we do not wish to remember, or would rather not be aware of.
If we find it difficult to feel emotions, or feel uncomfonable with them, it is highly likely we repress dream memory, as dreams have a base of high feelings. Experiments have shown that during dreaming our heartbeat, body movements and breathing frequently reflect intensified emotions. Also, research into what areas of the brain produce dreaming suggest that dreams may be from the ‘visceral brain’, which is largely non verbal.
If temperamentally we find feeling qualities a foreign language, connecting with a dream would need to be a learnt skill.
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