It is seriously frustrating to know you had an epic dream that made you feel happy and secure, but not to be able to remember why, or where you were, or who was in it. It's equally annoying when you know you had a terrifying dream, but it's all totally elusive the second you wake up. Many believe that dreams reveal what's going on in our subconscious, so why is that sometimes you can't remember your dreams? It really would be nice to have some recall as to what's going on inside us. But the good news is, there's an easy step you can take to start remembering them.
Everyone dreams every night, from ten minutes up to an hour, according to the Lucidity Institute. In fact, most of us actually have multiple dreams during eight hours or so of sleep, with the most vivid dreams happening during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, according to expert and author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power Of Sleep And Dreams, Professor Matthew Walker. REM is one of the cycles we sleep in, and is our deepest point of sleep. Dr. Walker described dreams as "overnight therapy" to Business Insider, saying "it's during dream sleep where we start to actually take the sting out of difficult, even traumatic, emotional experiences that we've been having". Think of it as a sort of healing, cathartic process that can lead to a sense of clarity.
But if you're having trouble remembering your dreams, you're definitely not alone. The neurochemicals in our brains work differently for everyone at night time and the necessary transmitters responsible for creating memories aren't activated when you sleep, according to a 2009 study from the California Institute of Technology. We don't tend to consolidate as we dream, like we do with information we hear in the day, Professor Mark Blagrove from Swansea University explained to The Naked Scientists. That said, some people remember their dreams more clearly than others — it's all to do with being more active in certain parts of the brain. Also, people who wake up regularly in the night tend to remember their dreams better — although a bad night's sleep doesn't sound worth it to me.
You tend to remember your more interesting, crazy, or emotional dreams, according to Dr. Walker, and forget the mundane ones, which sort of makes sense. But here's some interesting news; a new study from the University of Adelaide has found that taking the supplement B6 could help with recalling dreams. B6 is found naturally occurring in eggs, spinach, avocado, and bananas, but it may need to be taken in far higher doses to have any effect.
In the study, 50 out of 100 participants were given 240mg of vitamin B6 before bed and had a 64.1 percent better dream content recall than the half of the group who were given a placebo. So far, so good. But, 240mg is the equivalent of 558 bananas. 240mg is far more than the recommended daily amount of B6, which is 1.2mg for women, and over-supplementing anything can have dangerous side effects — in fact, the NHS warns that too much B6 can lead to peripheral neuropathy.
If you want to try and better remember your dreams in other ways, try to recall them as soon as you wake up — and if you wake in the middle of the night, write down anything you remember straight away. Alternatively, keep a notebook and pen by your bed. But don't beat yourself up about not remembering dreams. Dr. Walker's book implies that it's dreaming itself that is beneficial, not the ability to remember them. It's not about being able to learn or memorise; dreams are a totally different way of being and all our brains are wired differently.
You'll never say "sweet dreams" so flippantly again.