#23 Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams ?

Dreamt last night? Do you recall what it was the moment you woke up? You might have been able to share it over breakfast but as the day goes by, the memory of it becomes fuzzy just like that.

If this is the case though, you are still lucky as some people can only wonder and ask themselves “Why can’t I remember my dreams?”

Everybody dreams, but not everybody remembers the dream. This is a psychological fact that still baffled psychologists, philosophers, as well as sleep medicine experts for quite a long time already.

The curiosity called for continuous studies about behavioral sleep and results apparently point out to a couple of factors as to why you might or might not recall your dreams.

Factors affecting your memory of a dream

  1. Sex

It was found out that women tend to remember their dreams more than most men do. Researchers don’t exactly know what the reason behind this is but speculations tell that it could possibly be a biological, or more specifically, a hormonal difference. Generally, females are most likely more interested in dreams than males are and thus, the cognizance.

  1. Age

The older you get, the harder it actually is to recall your dreams. Remembering dreams develop in late childhood to adolescence and is more likely to peak in your twenties.

After that stage…you will have a gradual dream recall deterioration although this is not the case for everyone. Others experience quite the opposite.

  1. Personality

This is nowhere near definitive yet a correlation has been found between certain characteristics and high dream recall.

“More psychologically-minded people tend to remember their dreams more vividly than those who are practically and outwardly focused”.

Furthermore, there has also been a decent correlation between dream recall and having done memory tasks during waking hours.

  1. Amount of sleep

This has to be one of the most reasonable factors of dream recall. During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycle, you dream every 90 minutes on average.

This stage lengthens during the night and it follows that dreaming occurs for the most part, during the period towards the morning.

This is just right before you wake up. If you only sleep for four hours instead of the ideal eight, you only get roughly 20 percent of your dreamtime. On this note, most people report on being able to remember their dream on the weekend.

  1. Brain activity

We owe it to the advancement of technology the information on which parts of the brain are responsible for dreaming.

According to studies, a specific part of the brain located at the back portion of the head is more active in people who remember their dreams more often.

This part is called temporoparietal junction and aids in focusing our attention to external stimuli. Sequentially, the “intrasleep wakefulness” is also enhanced.

  1. Response to external stimuli

On a rather similar note, 2013 studies show that people who remember their dreams more frequently exhibit greater brain activity after hearing their name spoken aloud while they are awake.

People who have a good dream memory called “high recallers” experience a larger decrease of alpha brain waves that the “low recallers”.

The decrease of such waves are preceded by an upsurge in brain activity upon hearing their names.

Most common dreams that are remembered and what they mean

  1. Falling

Falling in your dream is considered to be the “red flag of your subconscious”. This dream commonly happens to those who are currently experiencing an issue regarding work, relationships, or life in general.

  1. Teeth falling out

Teeth are believed to be a symbol of confidence, power, and control.  A dream about the teeth falling out supposedly relates to an event in the dreamer’s life that caused him to lose his confidence and power.

  1. Showing up on public naked

This has to be, by far, one of the most humiliating or liberating dream, whichever mood you are up for. To dream of making a naked public appearance symbolizes anxiety and vulnerability.

This type of dream usually occurs to people who have just recently received a promotion, started a new job, or coming in to public view.

  1. Test-taking

Studies show that dreams like test-taking are common to people who are coined as perfectionists. This dream is a reminder to the dreamer to stay alert and never let his guard down.

It is also aligned with situations that usually happen at school or at work, specially in moments where the pressure comes in. Generally, test-taking is associated with a stress and pressure.

  1. Dying

Death is indeed a scary issue to tackle and not a very easy light topic. A death in a dream though signifies your wish to end something – be it a relationship, a contract, a career path, or even the past.

Dreaming of dying is actually far from nightmare. It is rather an encouragement for the dreamer to embark in a new path and enjoy a fresh start.

  1. Getting chased

This might be quite close to a nightmare. But despite this fact, this dream brings about a positive connotation.

This makes the dreamer realize his underlying courage to finally face a problem that has been existent for quite a time now. For some reason, women dream of this more often than men do.

Why may dreams be forgotten?

The nature of dreams is quite difficult to understand. During our sleep, our brain formulates memories which is why getting sufficient hours of slumber is vital in learning.

While you are asleep, your learnings during the day are consolidated into long-term memories but only if the sleep is deep.

Our sleep has phases, which proves to say that at some points, we are more awake than asleep, or the other way around, depending on at what point you are in in the sleep cycle.


In the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, majority of the dreaming transpires. At this time, your body is paralyzed to prevent you from acting out your dream, while your eyes move as a reaction to what you are dreaming.

There isn’t really a definitive reason as to why you forget you dream but the next time you ask yourself “Why can’t I remember my dreams?”, it’d probably make more sense after having learned the factors contributing to the issue.

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