Professional Opinion

Professional Opinion: Why can't I remember my dreams?

Justina Lasley
Justina Lasley Submitted photo

This week, Justina Lasley -- founder of the Institute for Dream Studies, a dream therapist and author of "Wake Up to Your Dreams" -- discusses why some people can remember what they dream while others cannot.

Question: Some of my friends can remember their dreams in great detail, but I never seem to have dreams or remember any details from what I dream. Is this normal or could it mean something is wrong health-wise?

Answer: There is no definitive reason that some people easily remember their dreams and others do not.

Throughout my twenty-five years in the study of dreams, I have tried to figure out why some people seem to remember their dreams vividly and easily while others have never remembered a dream and don't believe they have ever dreamed. (We actually have five to six dreams each night.)

Lack of dream recall doesn't generally relate to health issues -- other than lack of sleep -- but more often to the lack of interest in remembering dreams.

Research has shown that dream recall frequency is determined by such factors as personality, creativity, sleep behavior (nocturnal awakenings) and attitude toward dreams.

I have found two things greatly impact our ability to remember nighttime dreams: intention and commitment.

In order to increase dream recall, we must want to remember and place importance on this aspect of our lives. We must also commit time to the process, just as we must commit time and effort to any skill we want to improve.

Suffice it to say, I have met many people who remember their dreams but do not commit time to their dream life or place importance on the messages of their dreams.

I imagine that somewhere in their youth, they had a sense of dreams being an acceptable topic to discuss.

Dreams are of a different language, a metaphorical and symbolic language. It is more likely we will remember the dreams if we speak the language of dreams and this takes practice. We don't learn a foreign language unless we study and improve our ability to learn the new language. So it is with dreams.

We need to be able to reach deep levels of sleep to go into our dream state, although research has found that interrupted sleep is conducive to dream recall since we are waking up closer to the dream segment.

Sometimes people are concerned that paying attention to their dreams will prevent them from getting the sleep they need. I find just the opposite to be true.

People who pay attention and respect the wisdom of their dreams are usually great sleepers. After all, often what is keeping us awake is exactly what the dream is trying to resolve.

I suggest you keep paper and pencil by your bed and make notes in the night as you remember your dreams. Then take a few minutes before getting up from bed to connect with your dreams.

It is worth every moment you commit to your dream life. Your dreams will support and guide you in transforming your relationships, health and career.

Every aspect of your life (past, present and future) is reflected in your dreams.

For more information on dreams -- including Lasley's "Top Ten Tips for Remembering Your Dreams" -- visit

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