Dreams may be a secret window into your feelings, act as inspiration for a creative project, and even help you solve problems.Whether you recall many of your dreams or none at all, read on to find out how many dreams you’re actually experiencing during any given night.
How Much You Really Dream Each Night
Just because you don’t remember dreaming doesn’t mean you’re not doing it! You generally dream at least four to six times per night, usually during the most active REM stage of sleep if you’re over 10 years old. (Kids younger than 10 dream only about 20 percent of the time in REM sleep.) You usually dream longer as the night goes on because the REM stage of sleep can be anywhere from five minutes early in the night to as long as 34 minutes towards the end of your sleep session. So if you snooze for, say, eight total hours a night, two of them may be spent dreaming.
Why You Forget Your Dreams
You may not think that you’re a big dreamer because most of us forget 95 to 99 percent of our dreams. Why you don’t recall most of your dreams remains a mystery, but one theory is that it’s simply because you’re not concentrating on them while you’re snoozing. (People who think dreams are important and are more interested in them are likelier to recall them—probably because they are motivated to pay attention to their dreams). Another theory is that our lack of recall is partly due to the hormone associated with memory (norepinephrine) being turned off while we sleep, so our brain doesn’t actually encode our night visions into memories.
How To Better Remember Your Dreams
A trick to keeping your dreams from leaving your mind as soon as you wake up is simply to tell yourself that you want to remember your dreams as you’re falling asleep. Keep a dream journal by your bed so you can jot down everything that you can remember about your dreams the second you wake up—before thoughts about the day ahead clutter your mind. Write down everything (even if you can recall only vague images or snippets of your dreams) in order to train your brain to better remember them in the future.