Does it matter if I don’t remember my dreams?

“Am I missing out? Does it matter if I don’t remember my dreams?”

Take any random group of people and mention dreams. Some will get very excited, eager to talk about their most bizarre dreaming experiences, relieved to find a forum to compare notes and night-time adventures. Most will be curious, aware of remembering their dreams from time to time, and wondering what, if anything, they may mean. Some are dismissive, certain that dreams are meaningless garbage tossed out by the brain during sleep. Discussion is lively, electric even. And then there’s usually one quiet voice, a little taken aback with all the reminiscing and enthusiasm amongst people he thought he knew so well, “Am I missing out? Does it matter if I don’t remember my dreams?”

Let’s quickly review the reasons why some people don’t remember their dreams before we move to the question of missing out.

Why you may not remember your dreams

Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers them. Why not? There are three main reasons among many more:

Firstly, if you had bad dreams as a child and your parents soothed you by telling you it was “just a dream” and “don’t worry”, you may have blocked recall from that young age. Why give value to remembering something unimportant? Why not let them fade so you can wake up without scary dream memories?

Secondly, a similar situation can occur as an adult when you have a terrifying dream and make a decision – consciously or unconsciously – to block all future dream recall.

Thirdly, and this is increasingly common these days, if you jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, or get onto your phone the moment you wake up, or lay there and start worrying about the day ahead, you’ll miss those precious moments of lingering between sleep and full wakefulness where you can, if you relax and float and flow with the moment, become aware of one or more dreams from the night. Stay in that state a little longer, and the dream details will fill in and you’ll be able to transfer them into your short term memory, or, at least, remember them long enough to get them down on paper or record them onto an audio device.

So does it matter if you don’t remember your dreams?

Maybe it’s not much consolation to know that you are having some very cool experiences while you sleep, about five dreams a night, even if you can’t remember them. Maybe it’s also not much consolation to know that your dreams are contributing to your wellbeing on all levels, whether or not you remember them. (The processes are not well understood, but dream deprivation destabilises physiological, emotional, and mental health.)

You can get by in life without remembering your dreams, and you may do more than get by, you may excel, but if you do remember some dreams you have the opportunity to gain deep insight into yourself and why you experience life in the way that you do. From there, given the right tools and techniques, you can create meaningful positive change.

What really matters is not whether you remember your dreams, but whether you work with them to gain this deeper insight that empowers positive change.

If you remember your dreams but don’t take the opportunity to work with them, you can still enjoy reliving the good ones in your imagination, sharing the spooky or puzzling ones with friends, and going to bed each night anticipating one or more amazing adventures. Dream recall adds rich dimension and texture to life.

If you remember your dreams and they’re scary, you may wish for dream amnesia. You may become unsettled about what your frightening dreams mean, uneasy about going to bed in case you have more bad dreams.

But if you take those scary, or exciting, or spooky, or puzzling dreams as gateways to explore the deeper parts of your being, everything changes. The tools and techniques for understanding and working with your dreams can be learned to your great advantage.

So, are you missing out if you don’t remember your dreams? No, if you’re happy with your life the way that it is. Yes, if you’d like to resolve issues, find solutions to problems, develop your creativity, heal from emotional hurts, find deeper purpose and meaning, enjoy more fulfilling relationships, identify spiritual lessons, and generally step out into the world in a bigger, brighter way.

PS Here’s how to remember more dreams and more dream details.


Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in neurophysiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author, and appears frequently in the media on television, radio, and in print. She is also host of the long-running podcast, The Dream Show, and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.

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