Why Don't I Dream?
Dreams can be good, bad, and anything in between. But is it possible for them to be nothing at all? Around one in 250 people don't remember their dreams (according to existing research).
Is it possible that these lucid events don't occur to everyone equally? Or is it that these individuals simply aren't remembering what takes place throughout the night? Let’s dive in.
What Are Dreams, Anyway?
Dreams occur in the sleeping brain as a form of processing information collected throughout the day. This information is collected, organized, and integrated into our long-term memory. Other research and theories frame dreams as responses to random signals from the brain and body during sleep.
Some believe that we’re better able to retain information while sleeping since we're able to avoid the stimuli that typically hinder recollection. Still, evidence surrounding what affects our ability to recall dreams remains thin.
What's the Connection Between Dreams and REM Sleep?
We experience multiple sleep cycles throughout the night. REM sleep is usually characterized by eye twitches, heavy breathing, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and a lack of muscle movement to the point where our bodies mimic a paralyzed state. This is also when dreams occur.
During this stage, the brain gives off mixed frequencies that mimic the brain activity that takes place during normal waking hours. Most individuals who are woken up during this REM sleep stage report better dream recall.
It is also possible to experience dreaming in lighter stages of sleep. Individuals can also experience fragmentary dreams in slow-wave sleep, or during the third stage of sleep.
What Does It Mean if You Don't Remember Your Dreams?
Researchers tend to believe that everybody dreams, though not everyone remembers these occurrences after waking up. The better sleep we get, the more likely we are to become aware that we are dreaming. This process is known as lucid dreaming. Meanwhile, poor sleep quality impacts our ability to remember our dreams. Researchers call this experience "poor dream recall."
Listed below are a few factors that can impact our ability to remember our dreams.
Sleep disorders can potentially keep you from entering Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Some common sleeping disorders are sleep apnea, insomnia, chronic insomnia, and narcolepsy.
These conditions not only hinder our ability to experience dreams, but they can also increase our risk of experiencing anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and depression.
You probably saw this one coming. Periods of stress and mental health disturbances are often associated with poor sleep. It not only impacts sleep quality, but explains the decrease in slow-wave REM sleep, and frequent sleep interruptions. When combined, these factors can result in low-quality sleep, which directly affects dream recall, health, and wellness.
The medication you’re on may potentially impact your ability to remember dreaming. Sleep aids, psychiatric drugs, and allergy medications have the most impact on the sleep quality of users.
If you take any medication for anxiety or depression such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), you should be aware that these medications, especially antidepressants, can block or suppress REM sleep.
Without achieving REM, you won’t be able to remember those vivid dreams associated with this sleep stage.
The wrong diet can result in poor dream recall and may deprive you of lucid dreaming. There's even a phrase called "nightmare food," and they refer to certain proteins that can actually lead to disturbing dreams. Meanwhile, other foods like fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich items can improve your quality of sleep and improve dream recall.
Reflecting on personal trauma that is difficult to process when awake can lead to both insomnia and nightmares. To protect you, your brain suppresses dream recall to free you from reliving the trauma of what happened or dealing with the emotions related to it.
Consuming alcohol right before going to bed can negatively impact REM sleep, and as a result, dream recall.
How Can I Improve My Dream Recall?
Most people who “don't experience dreams” suffer from poor dream recall. If you’re one of those people who can’t remember their dreams, you’ll be happy to know that you can turn things around by making a few adjustments to your routine. Of course, the dream recall process will take some time before you can start remembering dreams, so be patient and consistent with your changes.
Setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep is more than just making your bed, avoiding using your phone before going to bed, and making a sleep schedule. It also involves:
One of the things that can improve the quality and duration of your sleep at night is exercise. Exercise tends to tire the body out. Exhaustion can signal your body to fall asleep faster.
Use Natural Sleep Aids
Using natural sleep aids from companies like Sandland Sleep is a great way to incorporate the right amount of melatonin into your diet. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our body’s sleep-wake cycle.
If you like a glass of wine or alcoholic beverage with your dinner, you might consider trading it in for better sleep.
Set an Alarm
What time do you get up? If you’re up at or around the same time every day, you may want to set your alarm clock to that exact time every day, even if your body wakes you up just fine on its own.
The idea is that setting an alarm at the exact time you get up won’t give your brain the chance to forget the dream. You’re more likely to wake up immediately after REM which can help you recall your dream.
Wake Up Slowly
Some people like to wake up slowly. Others like to rush out of their beds as soon as they open their eyes. Members of the latter camp might want to rethink their routine, however. As it turns out, waking up is the best time to remember our dreams. So maybe hang out in bed for a few minutes more.
Write it Down
If you really want to remember dreams, think about creating a dream journal. Even bits and pieces will do. This can help train the mind and eventually lead to better dream recall. Sometimes, putting in the effort is all it takes to access our dream world.
Dreams can provide fascinating revelations. If you’re a person who’s intrigued by them, you’ll no doubt want to try some of these suggestions.
While there isn’t a sure-fire way to improve dream recall, making healthy changes to your lifestyle and gaining control over issues that affect REM sleep can help us remember our dreams after waking up.
Of course, that can be easier said than done. If you have sleep apnea, insomnia, or other sleep disorders that stop you from sleeping, you might consider other alternatives.
Sandland Sleep is a great place to start.
Our natural sleep aids help people fall and stay asleep. We use natural high-quality hemp-derived ingredients to get you a full eight hours of sleep without feeling drowsy the morning after. That way, you can get a good night's sleep, every night.
Science has never fully answered the question about whether or not there are people who don’t dream, at least not with substantial evidence. While we can tell you that some people face issues with dream recall, we can't know for certain whether there are people who rarely or never experience dreams at all.
You can improve your chances of dream recall by making a few simple changes. Avoid alcohol, address issues impacting your ability to fall asleep, and start a dream journal. These are a few good places to start.
Fluctuating levels of acetylcholine and norepinephrine during sleep may be the reason why you can’t remember your dreams. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to control these neurotransmitters.
The neurochemical conditions that take place in the brain during REM sleep are generally attributed as the reasons why we forget our dreams when we wake up.