I really don’t like it when I wake up in the middle of an awesome dream (usually involving explosions and me saving the day) and I can’t remember much of it. We have so many amazing dreams each night, but, for most of us anyway, we forget just exactly what was going on in our heads when we were snoozing.
Exactly how dreaming works is still a mystery for researchers, but there are some things they do know. First, women tend to remember their dreams more often than men. Also, recalling your dreams tends to peak in people in their twenties and then drop off as you get older. Personality also plays a role as well. People who are more practical and focused on what’s going on in front of them tend to recall fewer dreams than those who are more “psychologically minded.”
People who fall asleep slowly and wake up slowly are more likely to remember their dreams as well. If you fall asleep gradually, you’ll enter what’s known as hypnagogia, and you’ll experience “dreamlike visual, auditory, and physical hallucinations that occur just at the onset of sleep.” When someone enters REM sleep, they experience more regular dreaming. When REM is ending, your body basically prepares to either wake up or go through the stages of sleep again. If you wake up near the end of a REM phase, you’re more likely to remember your dreams.
Scientists think there are some pretty easy tricks to help you remember your dreams better.
- Drink three glasses of water before you go to bed. You’ll wake up more and that could help you remember your dreams.
- Repeat to yourself, “I’m going to remember my dreams” three times before you fall asleep. This will remind your brain to make this a priority. Keep a pen and paper handy just in case you want to write down what you remember of your dreams.
- Wake up as slowly as you can. Try to stay half-asleep and replay your dreams in your head to the best of your ability.
Another simple trick: try to sleep longer. The more REM time you have, the more time you have to dream and to remember those dreams. Also, read some books on dreams to get yourself in the right mindset.