Why Can’t I Remember My Dreams? (and what to do about it)

Why can some folks remember their dreams and some can’t? As is the answer with most questions in Dreamwork, the answer is never just one thing.

There are so many possible contributing factors to why one might not recollect their dreams, ranging from what we ingest to past trauma to how much importance we place on our dream life.

In my experience, the best place to start inquiring about why you can’t remember your dreams is with a Rest Inventory. Often our routines regarding Rest leave no space for our dreams to breathe in our waking life.

Let’s start with your bedtime routine.

Do you have a bedtime routine?
Or do you watch TV or stay on screens or remain active until you fall asleep? 

A bedtime habit that includes some quiet, stillness, and screen-free time allows your body to enter into the deep sleep phase and get more rejuvenating rest. Of course other factors such as how much caffeine, alcohol, or marijuana you consume will play into your ability to rest.

If our system has to choose between healing and replenishing rest and remembering our dreams, it will choose the rest

You will have a better chance of recalling your dreams if you set yourself up to get both deep rest and be in the light or REM states of sleep where your dreams happen.

Next, let’s see what your Morning Routine looks like.

Do you jump out of bed because of an alarm, kids, or pets? If so, your dreams are likely to dissolve quickly as soon as you hit the ground running. 

If you can allow for 10 minutes of uninterrupted time in the morning when you wake, you’ll create the space to reflect on your dreams before you get out of bed.

That combined with recording your dreams as soon as possible will help you develop the capacity to remember your dreams. So start training your mind to push pause on the to-do list (and maybe train your kids and pets too) in the morning and instead hang out in that restful, reflective liminal space to document your nighttime adventures.

Making extra time in the morning allows you to practice my most effective tip to start remembering your dreams:

Don’t Move!

By far, the most effective tip I’ve shared with folks to help them with dream recall is Don’t Move!

When you wake from a dream, see if you can remain perfectly still and tell the dream back to yourself – anything you remember. Noticing how you feel in these moments will be helpful with the dreamwork later too.

As soon as you begin to move your body, your dream will begin to slip away. Telling the dream back to yourself before you begin to stir gives you a much better chance you’ll be able to hang on to more details as you go about your day.

I still recommend recording your dream as soon as possible when you wake. Whether you keep a notebook by your bed or speak your dream into a voice recorder, getting it documented as soon as possible is the best way to capture the dream!

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