If you wake in the morning feeling disappointed that you don’t recall any dreams that you had overnight, you might question: Why can’t I remember my dreams? Learn about the nature of dreams, the association of vivid dreams with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, normal sleep patterns and the pattern of dreaming, triggers of dream recall like untreated sleep apnea, and how you might learn to better remember your dreams.
What Is a Dream?
The frequency of dream recall may vary or even fade at points in one’s life. A dream is a series of thoughts, images, or sensations that occur in the mind during sleep. It is a function of the brain. Dreaming may occur as specific regions of the brain are activated through sequenced electrical patterns and chemical activity.
We can’t know for certain if a person never dreams. We do know that some people rarely, if ever, recall their dreams. If you have trouble remembering dreams, you’re in good company.
Most of us have 4 to 6 dreams a night, but we forget the vast majority of them. The dream you’re most likely to remember is the one you had just before waking up.
Dreams tend to occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep. A 2019 studyTrusted Source noted that our ability to make memories is impaired during REM sleep. That would help explain why we’re prone to forgetting dreams.
Missing out on REM sleep could mean missing out on dreams, too. Poor sleep can be a consequence of a health problem or a contributing factor in one.
Sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, can keep you from entering the REM sleep cycle. Insomnia can increase your risk for:depression,anxiety,cardiovascular disease and diabetes
Other factors that may contribute to poor sleep include:alcohol,tobacco,caffeine,medication side effects,stress, and Depression
Among adults with depression, up to 90 percentTrusted Source report trouble sleeping, and insomnia is the most common complaint.
That could account for fewer or less-memorable dreams. But depression may also increase disturbing dreams or nightmares.
Sleep problems are highly prevalent in people with bipolar disorder. Sleep problems may lead up to an episode of mania or depression.
Between 69 and 99 percentTrusted Source of people experiencing a manic episode experience sleep disruption such as needing less sleep or having trouble falling asleep.
Insomnia can be a risk factor for developing anxiety or a result of anxiety. Sleep problems are reported by people who have:
generalized anxiety disorder
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Although lack of REM sleep can cut down on dreams, people with anxiety are more likely to have scary dreams.
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