Have you ever wondered why sometimes we can remember our dreams and other times we do not? It’s like there is some kind of switch in our minds that refuses to turn itself on or off.

Well, to be completely honest, this is because we aren’t really made to remember our dreams, not all of them at least. Our dreams are strongly linked to our subconscious minds and with them, there is a lot to learn. If you take the time to write down everything you can after waking from some kind of dream you would be surprised at the number of things you could learn about yourself.

When we wake up sometimes we have access to all of the dream for a short period of time or perhaps we are only capable of merely remembering bits and pieces. Dreams are hard to research and so things like this are still very mysterious to us all. While there are tons of theories out there about why we might not really remember our dreams my favorite is the ‘lizard dream.’

According to Salon, the lizard dream can be summed up as follows:

The most obvious explanations as to why we forget dreams were put forward in 1874 by German philosopher Ludwig Strümpell. He suggested that dream images are too weak to penetrate the memory, just as in daytime many stimuli are too weak to leave any trace. Dream images are rarely experienced more than once, so repetition, which is generally a powerful strategy for remembering things, does not occur. It is perhaps no accident that those dreams we do remember tend to be recurring dreams. Most people simply care too little about their dreams; as soon as they wake, the tasks of the day demand their full attention and all memories of the dream evaporate. Strümpell observed that people who kept a dream diary for a while found that they dreamed more and became better at remembering their dreams, a phenomenon that has since been corroborated repeatedly. Lastly, dream images were thought too incoherent to be recorded with the help of orderly associations. They consist of unconnected images and our memories are better at dealing with a series of events that follow each other in a natural order. To use a metaphor that was not available in Strümpell’s day, dreams are like a chaotically edited film, with fragmentary scenes, so it is hardly surprising that we fail to remember the images. To Strümpell the puzzle is not so much why we forget dreams as why we occasionally remember them.

Strümpell’s explanations are old, but that does not mean they are outdated. Many modern researchers point to a lack of associative cohesion in dreams, or to poor concentration in the transitional phase between sleeping and waking. It is hard to test the validity of the argument that in a dream all kinds of things happen that are inexplicable, illogical or downright impossible and that lack of cohesion makes them hard to recall. We might just as easily arrive at the opposite conclusion. If in real life I suddenly found myself in the basement with the attractive lady next door, I would certainly remember it a week later, all the more so because our house has no basement. I know I have had dreams of that kind from time to time, but I cannot remember a single one of them. Even the sometimes decidedly peculiar content of our dreams is no guarantee that we will file them away. Moreover, the realization that there is something odd about the events of a dream usually comes later, when you relate or contemplate the dream. You then spot one incongruity after another: people who could never have met, dead people brought back to life, people who turn up out of nowhere and with whom you start chatting without first asking where they have suddenly sprung from. In dreams, you may be able to speak fluent Spanish, or you meet someone in Berlin even though you were at home a moment ago. When dreaming, nothing surprises us. So how the strange nature of many dreams affects our ability to remember them remains an open question.

Perhaps there is a lot more to it than we think, maybe we cannot remember our dreams as they are merely bits and pieces of past lives? Either way, it is something interesting to think about. If you are having trouble remembering your dreams try and take the time to write down everything you remember about them as soon as you wake up each morning. This will benefit you greatly.


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