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Elusive Dreams? Here's How to Catch Them.

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs

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You're having a wonderful dream about … something. And then you wake up. What was the dream about? Why can't you remember it? And why does your best friend remember her dreams in vivid detail?

People who can recall their dreams may not sleep very deeply, so they spend more time in REM sleep, where scientists agree that most dreaming occurs.

A 2014 study in Neuropsychopharmacology says a heightened amount of blood flow to certain areas of your brain might identify “super-dreamers," people who wake more during the REM stage and therefore have a better chance of actively remembering an interrupted dream.

Biology aside, Dr. Jose Colon says the best way to remember your dreams is simple: practice.

“It has to be an exercise," says Colon, founder of Paradise Sleep and an award-winning author on books detailing sleep methods. “It's not a pill you take. It has to be an act of participation. When people recall them they recall them within the first few seconds of waking up. The best way to remember the dream is to remember to remember."

Colon suggests keeping a journal by your bed and jotting down dreams as soon as you wake. If you are too busy to go into detail, he says, at least write down a few key words. And shut off your alarm.

“It would be ideal if you would naturally wake up without the startle of an alarm clock," says Colon, who acknowledged that the natural method isn't always feasible. If an alarm clock is a must-have, Colon suggests lying in bed and thinking about your dream.

“I take 10 to 30 seconds and think about my dream and try to recall what occurred and write it down," he says. “When you keep a dream journal and you write down what you remember, it's interesting how one piece will lead to another piece and you remember more and more."

Terry Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator, says remembering dreams can be profitable.

“As the story goes, Paul McCartney woke up from a dream with the melody to 'Yesterday' in his head," says the author of Sleeping Your Way to the Top: How to Get the Sleep You Need to Succeed. He reportedly had a piano in his room and immediately started playing. If he had not done so, it is highly likely it would have been lost.

It appears that the memories from dreams are quite fleeting in nature. So write them down as soon as you can. "Great ideas, solutions, poems, novels, movie scripts and songs were born from dreams."


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal wellbeing and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.



Adrienne Samuels Gibbs writes leadership bios, consumer-oriented features and arts and culture content for outlets such as Netflix, Forbes, Ebony, Chicago Sun-Times and NBC.

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