Why are dreams so hard to remember?

I find the opposite to be true - I’m an extremely light sleeper and remember my dreams vividly. If it’s a particularly emotional dream I find myself affected by it for hours or even days and have to keep reminding myself that it’s not real.


I’ve heard this as well, it’s the brain getting rid of the junk from the day, and most of my dreams deal with something from the previous day’s awake period.

I’ve also heard your brain releases a chemical when you wake up (melatonin?) to inhibit dream recollection. If you could remember dreams, it would be difficult to separate dreams from reality. And have you seen that woman on the news recently who cannot forget a single event in her life? She says it’s absolute hell, it’s like watching a constant split-screen TV with today’s images and yesterday’s memories on different screens. So I imagine sometimes it’s beneficial to not remember everything you see or dream.

My Dream Theory:
Your brain is like a computer in the way it stores information, except that the connections between memories are more important then the memories themselves. At night, the brain goes through a “defrag” process, forming, moving, and deleting connections. Every connection that is involved, triggers the conscious part of the brain(Hippocampus?), so we feel the experience associated with that connection. The connections involved could be from the previous day, or the distant past, and could be related, or unrelated. The result, is a dream, that is formed from seemingly random memories. But, none of these memories or connections are new, and no new connections are made, so even though we experience them, our brain keeps no record of which connections and memories were involved in the dream.

It is analogous to opening up MS Word, pasting in snipets from other documents, and inserting images from your Pictures folder, but then closing Word without saving. The strange document existed, and may remain in the temporary files for a while, but your computer has no record of that file ever existing.

So no one actually can prove it? Even with “O my goodness, after doing a psychology degree i have studied this over and over again.” Someone who has studied just this, and the comment is:

“Dreams mostly occur in REM sleep.”

What is the proof of that? Did someone wake up and say, “while i was blinking my eyes, I had the strangest dream?” Is it not possible that the dream happens in NREM, but is only recalled on waking in a study that has a REM cycle? Maybe the dream is a fabrication because the person knows they are in a study, and want to help support that, even if they don’t dream.

So, 23 posts and no proof. I’m still excited to hear what some smart person comes up with.

The researcher knows the subject had a dream based on the levels of the brain waves, measured by EEG, not based on the subject waking up and saying “I had a dream!” Cite. The debate here is what the purpose of a dream is, and how our brain creates one, Not the existance of dreams, as you seem to imply.

I think the poster with the degree in psychology qualifies as a “smart person” with regards to this subject.

I am so sorry… I got my wires crossed and the thread thought I was reading and replying to the thread “prove you have dreams” in the GD forum. Please strike my voice from the record and WAG all the live long day. That’ll teach me to lose track of windows based on dream topics.

Yup verified my confusion. Very sorry. I followed the link in post #4 and got side tracked. Read the OP of that and got back here thinking it was all response to that. He was asking for proof of dreams, and I wasn’t seeing any. Again. Sorry.

Hey, no problem, but now you have to buy the drinks.

Yes, this touches on a theory proposed by Cartwright- he believed dreams are a meaningful way of considering worries of problems from conscious everyday life, and are used as a way of providing solutions for problems.

This is very similar to Hobson and McCarley’s activation synthesis theory (1977). They suggested a biological theory where dreams are a meaningless result of random brain activity. Acetylcholine triggers giant cells to fire randomly in the reticular activating system which causes activation of the sensory and motor areas of the brain during REM sleep. The higher parts of the brain then make sense of the random activity, thus producing semi coherent dreams.

There are many critics of both theories, and other theories on the function of sleep. However, i believe it will be an ongoing research topic for some time.