How to Harness the Obscured Power Of Faded Dreams

What were you doing in the dream? 

Fighting, I don’t know. I don’t remember it well.

Maybe there’s a puzzling line or two a character spoke in the dream.

“Hopa, hopa!”

What does that even mean?

What makes a faded dream?

A memory is formed in your brain by linking it to other memories. For example, when you hear a phrase in a foreign language that you don’t speak, it’s difficult to recall the phrase.

When a dream has few details with which to link the memory, it becomes a faded dream.

When the memory of a dream has faded, when it comes to dream analysis, there’s next to nothing to go on, not much to interpret, and little to understand.

Some dreams are intricate, incredibly detailed, and lifelike. They’re usually called vivid dreams.

Faded dreams aren’t those. They’re the opposite.

Faded dreams are the dimmed opposite of vivid dreams.

Most lists don’t include them as a type of dream, along with lucid, vivid, and others.

Faded dreams are the ones where, when you’re trying to remember them, you almost come up blank. They’re gossamer memories. Shreds. Mushy. It’s like they float out in the Aether.

When a picture is vivid, it’s in focus. Every detail is visible. There’s more details in the picture, sometimes than what you’re consciously aware of.

A vivid picture can stop you in your tracks. Depending on the subject, on the way it makes you feel, it commands your attention. When the typical dream you experience becomes more vivid than before it really gets your attention.

When a picture had faded, few details stand out.

Vivid dreams are easily remembered.

Trying to remember a faded dream can be like trying to hold a splash of water in your hands before you can get them cupped. The liquid mostly flows through your fingers. A faded dream doesn’t give your mind much to grab onto.

Shapes not the details on the shapes are the emphasis in faded dreams.

If you’ve been suddenly having vivid dreams, it might be because you were neglecting the dim ones. You’re out of touch with yourself. Faded dreams have only one or two data points to them. The vivid dreams are a form of information overload.

You might think having a bunch of dim, faded dreams means it’s time to quit dream journaling, that there’s no point to it.

You might think you’re dreaming wrong or dream journaling wrong.

If you did, you’d be wrong.

Sometimes it’s simply harder to remember your dreams than others.

Dreams are concepts

Dreams, like other knowledge, are concepts. That element, the ability of your mind to harness a concept, is worth exploring.

No matter our intelligence quotient, most of us have been overwhelmed by complexity at one time or another, especially in school. Calculus is complicated for many people; the Krebs cycle; trying to understand a foreign language, trying to understand the opposite sex. Whatever. From experience in trying to understand and apply complex knowledge, we learn that if we can break the knowledge into smaller pieces, we can begin to grasp it. If we can notice the rule at work, we can remember it easier. We need facts to hook new information on to make neural connections.

On the contrary, the faded dream isn’t complicated, unlike the study subject. This is key to starting to understand the faded dream. Sometimes, when you’ve had a faded dream, your subconscious sent a simple message. The message cycles over and over because there’s not much information in it. The experience can be like listening to a muddled lecture from a parent or sermon that doesn’t seem to say much, that could be condensed 95 percent, and not suffer a bit of loss from the communication.

Compared to most times when you’re awake, information flows like a faucet at full blast. When you’re asleep, all you have is the sensation of the thoughts from your subconscious. The dream only has one or two data points, and the brain keeps hammering them home. They can be missing visuals. The visuals can be blurry. Just not much there to go by.

Faded dreams aren’t well documented. They’re seldom talked about. The obscured detail gives you little to talk about.

Yet faded dreams are the norm for most people, especially for those who don’t try to remember their dreams and dismiss their importance. Vivid dreams can even be seen as a problem by someone accustomed to dim, faded dreams. They often wonder what they can do when they suddenly have vivid dreams. The Sleep Foundation notes vivid dreams may be caused by fragmented sleep, sleep deprivation, stress, medication side effects, pregnancy, and sleep disorders. Presumably, faded dreams are what you get when everything is going fine, although that rationale should be debatable.

If you’ve got a detail or two to work with, how do you approach them when it comes to dream interpretation?

What is a faded dream

A faded dream is a dream you don’t remember well.

Presumably, the problem isn’t with your ability to recall. You’ve remembered several details from other dreams in the past. You’re applying the Dream Recovery System correctly. What you do remember of it, there are only one or two data points.

Look for the theme

The scenery is out of focus in a dim dream. Ask why, “What is my subconscious saying by this?”

First, as with all dreams, write what you do remember from the dream. Chances are, if you’re talking about a faded dream, it will be one or two things. You don’t have much to go on.

Seven common faded dream themes

They seem to center on several themes. If you encounter more, if you have additional suggestions for the list, please detail below in the comments section.

  • Fighting – You don’t see the enemy you’re fighting. You keep fighting. One or two other images might be superimposed over the conflict. You have to determine what this means to you. Is this a kind of a pep talk? Don’t give up? Keep fighting? What kind of steps can you undertake to do battle?
  • Sex – You could be in the middle of an orgy. You could be making love with one partner. Maybe it’s not love. Perhaps it’s just hot sex. Is it a particular other person? Is it a partner in general? It’s telling if there aren’t many details forthcoming.
  • Work – Whether physical or mental, it’s hard work you’re focused on. It doesn’t end, or you’re not even thinking of the end. The key here is, how do you feel emotionally and physically about what you’re doing?
  • Someone else – You dream about someone else. You’re with them, and there’s not much detail about the conversation or activity that’s memorable. It’s about their presence, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
  • God/Spirit – You’re in the presence of God or some other spirit. There’s no message. Maybe there’s a feeling of awe or wonder.
  • Rest – You’re resting in the dream. You’re dreaming you’re asleep in bed. Relaxing.
  • Awake – You’re dreaming you’re awake in bed, waiting to go to sleep. This is an interesting one because some people with a sleep disorder have this one regularly. Sleep doctors and tech occasionally encounter the patient who swears up and down that they weren’t sleeping, yet their EEG tells a different story. They could be having a dim dream about being awake in bed.

The faded dream can be intertwined with other types of dreams, like episodic. Though they are the opposite of visions and lucid dreams, so it’s not likely they’d be entangled with those types.

A faded dream is an effort by the subconscious to have clear communication with the conscious mind. It’s one or two data points. After all, how better to convey a message like:

“Don’t give up!”

“I love you.”

“Keep going.”


“They’re wonderful.”

“Be at peace.”

A faded dream is succinct. It doesn’t take much time to interpret because there’s not many details.

For most, they’re not well-remembered because they’re not impressive, but for those who do, they can be powerful because clear, concise communication is powerful.

For further reading:

Have vivid dreams with pyridoxine.

How to make sense of déjà vu.

Make the most of your healing dream.

You can use your dream to understand and cope with your environment

Write down your dreams


James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. He aims to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 


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