Dream research indicates that all people have about 4 to 6 six dreams a night. Some people remember all six dreams while others don’t remember any.

One might wonder why there is such a drastic difference.  There isn’t one answer, of course, but here are seven common reasons why people don’t remember their dreams.

1. Dreams are Weird

In DreamTime magazine, dreamworker Jeremy Taylor mentions that dreams are frequently unusual, not resembling anything from our waking life, and therefore sometimes difficult to express in thought and word. Also, dreams may reveal new information and are multi-layered in meaning. As a result, dream images are, as Taylor describes, “not yet speech ripe.” He goes on to say that over time, with practice, we can learn how to remember those odd dreams and grasp them long enough to be able to record them.

2. Disinterest in Dreams

Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement to jump start dream recall. Whenever I teach dreamwork, someone inevitably says, “I never remember my dreams. How can I participate in this class?” Usually within a few weeks the same student shares with me that she’s started to remember her dreams.

If you don’t remember your dreams, but want to do dream work, chances are good you will start remembering simply by paying attention. If not, this article offers several techniques you can use to enhance dream recall.

3. Stress, Too Much on One’s Mind, and Lack of Sleep

Stress, no matter the reason, can wreak havoc on a dream life. For some, stress causes nightmares or anxiety dreams. For others, it causes dreams to slip out of consciousness immediately upon waking.

There are techniques for minimizing the impact of stress on dream recall. Please see the “how to remember” section.

4. Alcohol and Drug Consumption

Alcohol and drugs affect the REM cycle and therefore our dreams.

If I have two glasses of wine I have a hard time remembering my dreams. I know others, however, who can drink an entire bottle and have no dream recall problems whatsoever. Every body is different.

Drugs have similar effects. People on various medications have shared in dream groups that their dreams change in unusual ways when they start taking prescriptions. I’m not suggesting you go off any medications to improve dream recall. Consult your health care practitioner before making any changes to your medication.

5. Moon Phases and Biorhythms

Phases of the moon can affect dream cycles. I tend to remember more dreams around the full moon and less around the new moon. We have natural biorhythms that can also affect our dream recall.

Notice if there is a cycle to your dream recall. If you remember dreams sometimes and not others, be grateful for the dreams you remember and don’t worry about the times you don’t.

6. Traumatic Events or Soul Loss

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on trauma and dream recall. The following thoughts are based on experiences I’ve had with people in dream groups.

It seems to me that there are times when a traumatic event can cease dream recall, the ability to remember ones dreams. Regardless of whether or not we have a conscious memory of a traumatic event, we always retain an unconscious memory. In other words, the memory lives in our mind somewhere, even if we don’t remember it.

Since dreams can help us heal our lives, if we are not ready to heal we may not remember our dreams. Psychotherapy, or some type of counseling, may be required to begin the healing process before dream recall can return. If soul loss is involved a soul retrieval may be necessary.

7. An inability or unwillingness to wake up

Dreams help us “wake-up” in the Buddhist sense of the phrase. That is, during waking hours we can fool ourselves into believing we’re something we’re not. For instance, we may be miserable, settling for less than we deserve in life, but trick ourselves into thinking we’re happy. Dreams help us wake up from our illusions so we can see what’s really going on.

Consequently, if there is something the dreamer doesn’t want to recognize about herself, it might be difficult to wake up from sleep or remember dreams that help us see ourself in a new light. Looked at metaphorically, there may be resistance to “waking up” to a new awareness about a personal dilemma.

The question to ask is this “Is there something I don’t want to see in my life that is keeping me asleep or preventing me from remembering my dreams?”


If your dream images slip away before you wake there may be any number of reasons why you are forgetting them. To get started remembering your dreams sometimes all it takes is the decision to remember. Others times a bit more effort is required.

Read Next: How to remember your dreams.