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Q: Dreaming ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Dreaming
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: leighannp-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 14 Jul 2005 05:46 PDT
Expires: 13 Aug 2005 05:46 PDT
Question ID: 543437
Why do we forget out nighttime dreams so easily and quickly?
Subject: Re: Dreaming
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 15 Jul 2005 19:37 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi leighannp-ga, 

This is a great question, and one I?ve wondered about myself.  Now
you?ve given me a good excuse to actually research it.

There are plenty of theories floating around to explain the mystery of
why we forget our dreams so quickly ? many of them with
psychoanalytical roots. It does seem that a dream we?re so emotionally
immersed in while we sleep should stick with us for more than just the
few seconds or minutes after we wake up. It?s maddening to lie there
and try to grasp the dream as it just dissolves away in front of us.

The psychoanalysts (starting with Freud himself) would have us believe
that we subconsciously ?want? to forget the dream or suppress it ?
that the dream has some special meaning and that forgetting it tells
us something about ourselves and what we may be wanting to hide or
discard. Some would also suggest that if we would just try harder,
think harder, look deeper, we could remember more.

There are also theories that say our minds discard dreams because they
make no sense, have no relevance to reality, are not formed when we
are conscious, are not fully formed thoughts, or because they are
over-written quickly with ?real? events and memories.

The fact is, we don?t exactly know why dreams are lost so quickly, but
brain research has given us some good leads. What it comes down to is
brain chemicals. During sleep, molecules called aminergic
neurotransmitters are decreased as you pass from wakefulness through
NREM to REM sleep.  A lack of these molecules has the effect of
dampening recent memory. In other words, the part of your brain that
stores the visual dream as it unfolds can?t do its job.

You will find that dreams with a strong emotional content are easier
to remember. This is because a different part of your brain encodes
emotional data than the one that encodes visual data (which is what
dreams are primarily made of). The emotional portion of your brain
retains its ability to store memories while you are sleeping.

When you wake up, you get a jolt of those neurotransmitters and you
can sometimes recall a portion of your dream, but the rest is lost.
Those little flashes you retain tend to be the ones that repeat
themselves throughout the day when you suddenly think you?re getting a
glimpse of your dream again. But, no matter how hard you try to follow
that thread, you can?t. It just doesn?t exist any more. Often, when
think we are recalling a ?lengthy? dream ? even as we lie there in bed
trying to reconstruct it,  we are actually filling in the blank spots
in retrospect, using our more logical conscious brain to force the
dream into some kind of sensible pattern.

If you want to remember more of your dreams, try using a snooze
button. The repeated jolts of aminergic neurotransmitters that you get
when it goes off every 9 minutes will help you recall the dream you
just came out of. Because you doze right back off, you may even fall
back into a ?continuation? of the same dream and the next time the
alarm goes, you?ll be able to recall just that little bit more.

So, I trust that answers your question, as least as far a science can
answer it. Let me know if anything I?ve said isn?t clear, and I?ll be
happy to clarify.

Here are some sites for more information. 

New Trends in Dream Brain Research; Richard Catlett Wilkerson

Snooze You Can Use

Skeptics Dictionary: dream

Why is it so hard to remember what we have dreamed about after we wake
up? (scroll down for Q&A)

Thanks for your question and sweet dreams! 


Search terms:

Why ?we forget dreams?
aminergic neurotransmitter
aminergic neurotransmitter memory dream
remember dreams memory brain
leighannp-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Great answer. Thanks!

Subject: Re: Dreaming
From: borisshah-ga on 14 Jul 2005 07:07 PDT
This is easy. When we sleep we only use one part or section of our
brain.  The one we use when we sleep does not contain the specific
part of the brain that we use for memory, remembering and retrieving
information, so we cant remember what we dreamt about while we were
asleep. I forget whether it is the right side for dreaming and left
side for memory or vice-versa.

I did not research this. I only remember it from something I read or
heard around 5-6 years ago.
Subject: Re: Dreaming
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Jul 2005 12:10 PDT
We forget lots of things  - conveniently, if they were "uncomfortable"
thoughts/memories -  less conveniently if we've gone to another room
to get something and then cannot remember what.

You don't have the believe all of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams to
recognized that your own or someone else's dreams (as related) deal in
a concealed way with something that may have occurred the previous day
 - concealed at least in the recollection:  different persons or
places, if we remember the dream.
It is a defensive mechanism;  we refuse consciously to admit that we
may have dreamt a solution to the "nuisanse" of ailing elderly aunt by
letting her disappear.  We forget  - only having an uneasy
recollection of an unpleasant dream -  or we recall it in an
acceptable scenario:  different persons, places.
Subject: Re: Dreaming
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Jul 2005 02:19 PDT
great answer.  "Snooze button":  dream analysts recommend immediately
writing down what you recall, regardless if it makes sense or the text
is coherent.

Sometimes in our mind  - like on the keyboard -  we hit the delete
instead of the save button.
Subject: Re: Dreaming
From: knowledge_seeker-ga on 21 Jul 2005 18:39 PDT
Glad you liked the answer leighannp-ga, and thank you for the tip.
Hope to see you around Google Answers again.


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