Here’s Why You Might Not Be Remembering Your Dreams

Your alarm goes off, and you wake up suddenly. You get up, and you’ve got somewhere to go.

The dream fades.

You wake up wondering what time it is. How much longer do you have to sleep? You look at the clock on your phone or on the nightstand.

The dream fades.

Your bed partner says something to you, and you start thinking about that.

The dream fades.

You wake up having the urge to pee. You get up and take care of that.

Once again, the dream fades.

Whatever you’ve been dreaming and thinking about fades as your conscious mind takes over for your subconscious. You haven’t remembered to remember, and you haven’t taken the time to run through PACTREPS and fix the finer points of the dream in your mind.

While you don’t necessarily need to write the dream down immediately (though you probably should for best results), you do need to fix the points of the scene or story in your mind.

Remember to remember

If you’ve gotten up and haven’t remembered to remember, you can always try to remember what the dream was about. You may not remember the finer points of the dream. If the dream was heavy on symbolism, you might not fully understand it, but you may at least be able to understand what the topic was. That will tell you what’s occupying your mind as you sleep at night.

Knowing what your mind is occupied with at night can tell you what matters to you, what you’re emotional about. What do you need to understand? What situation does your conscious mind need to attend to?

Yes, you may wish you had more detail to work with. On the other hand, you can always try again the next night. Maybe wear a bracelet that you can feel on the opposite hand from your watch. Go to bed on time so you’re not so tired. Keep your dream journal by your bedside available for quick access to a blank page that you can scribble a few notes down (or do this instead). You’ll find that your dream recall can improve immeasurably.

Other reasons why you might not be remembering your dreams

Some people are better at remembering their dreams than others. It’s a fact. This article notes several studies that show this and which groups are better at it than others.

Women remember more dreams than men, and younger people remember more than older. Practical people remember fewer dreams than less practical people. Things that go on around you when you’re sleeping can also affect dream recall.

Do your best because your best is the best you can do. For example, just because you’re an older man, it shouldn’t mean that you can’t recall any dreams. It just means less. Dream recall and journaling are still a form of meditation and likely give you those benefits.

For Further Reading:

Think Your Not Dreaming? Think Again.

First step to remembering your dreams


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


The Dream Recovery System has affiliate links in some banner ads. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This arrangement has no affect on our opinions.

There's gold (figurative) in your dreams.
Join our list today.