Why some of us remember our dreams and others don’t

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Everybody sleeps, but does everybody dream? This, among other related issues, is perhaps one of the most interesting and unsolved mysteries surrounding human existence, and possibly one of the many questions that have not enjoyed relative unanimity in response from people.
[post_ad] When asleep, eyes are closed, the postural muscles are relaxed, the nervous system becomes inactive and consciousness is practically suspended, but in the midst of all these is the phenomenon called dream, which can be described as a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.

Dreams can be interesting sometimes, coupled with its psychological and spiritual colorations. It is not even uncommon for people to find themselves in some fairyland or paradise while dreaming but wake up to find themselves where they were before sleeping.

Even though scientists argue that everybody dreams, some people maintain that they do not dream while some others say they can’t remember theirs. Be that as it may, a study by some French scientists has revealed the reason why some people remember their dreams and others don’t.

The study was carried out mainly to unravel this puzzle and to identify which part of the brain differs between those who remember their dream and those who do not.

In the course of the study, the researchers, led by Perrine Ruby, of Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, used Positron Emission Tomography to measure the brain activity of about 41 volunteers during their sleep and while they were awake.

The participants were then shared into two groups, with the first one comprising those (21) who used to recall their dreams at least 5.2 times in a week and the other group comprising those who rarely recall theirs, like twice in a month.

After observing the spontaneous activity in their brains both during sleep and while awake, Lyon and his team found that when the brains of people in the two groups were examined, there was some variation in the spontaneous activity in two regions of their brains, namely, medial prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction.

While the medial prefrontal cortex is responsible for making associations between context, locations, events, and adaptive responses like emotions, the latter is the information-processing hub in the brain, responsible for imitation, and forming pictures of oneself and other people in the brain. The two, according to the researchers, help in creating dreams and remembering them, more so that medial prefrontal cortex plays a huge role in memory and decision-making function of the brain.

After the observation using PET, the researchers found that in the brains of those who usually remember their dreams, there is a higher level of activities in these two areas of the brain and the section of the brain that responds to external stimuli compared to the level of activity in the brains of those who rarely remember theirs.

They added that those who react more strongly when their names are called by other people and those who tend to wake up by any slight interference in their sleep are more likely to remember their dreams. Funny as the latter sounds, the researchers stated that that brief moment of being awake, whether by interruption or naturally, helps such people to encode (commit) the dream they already had to memory.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology and reviewed by Daily Mail added, “High dream recallers have twice as many times of wakefulness during sleep as low dream recallers and the brains of the high dream recallers are more reactive to auditory stimuli during sleep and wakefulness than those of the low dream recallers.

“This may explain why high dream recallers are more reactive to environmental stimuli, awaken more during sleep, and therefore better encode dreams in memory than low dream recallers. Indeed the sleeping brain is not capable of memorising new information; it needs to be awake to be able to do that.”

The researchers explained further that people are more likely to remember the dreams where they had memorable encounters than others where there was nothing much of interest.

On enquiry, findings by Saturday PUNCH showed that people (almost everybody) want to remember their dreams, possibly everytime they close their eyes to sleep, which has been appeared impossible. Thus, the question, what can people do to remember their dreams?

A report on Medicaldaily pointed out certain things that could be done by people who want to remember their dreams. One of such is for people to train their brains to remember and recreate things, which it called the window treatment.

The report advised people to watch scenes unfold outside a window, observe everything to detail, including colours, objects, people, animals and movements.

The report added, “The goal is to detail in your head everything you are seeing. Don’t generalise. Once you’ve done this, write everything down in a notebook. By experiencing the events and recounting them, you’re training your brain to remember details in real life, and eventually your dreams, too.”

Another recommendation by the report is that people should wake up naturally instead of being interrupted suddenly, such as splashing water over a person sleeping or shouting the person’s name vigorously which could wake the person suddenly.

“Waking up naturally is a much smoother transition between dream sleeping and wakefulness, and chances are that dreams could be more easily remembered this way. Even taking an extended nap can improve a person’s chances of remembering,” it added.

The other recommendation is that people could keep a piece of paper and pen beside them before sleeping, such that the moment they wake up, even if it’s in the middle of the sleep, they should quickly record every information they remember from the dream.

It added, “Rather than waiting for the morning to write in the paper, keep it close to you at night, and as soon as you wake up from a dream, write whatever you can remember again, all the details, like you would with the window treatment. If you don’t want to write everything down, take notes of the key points. Soon enough, dreams should start to become more vivid, and remembering them should be easier as well.”

A similar report on asdreams.org pointed out that reminding oneself of the need to remember a dream and keeping a paper and pen or a tape recorder by the bed side to take notes could help improve one’s dream memory. It added, “As you wake up, try to move as little as possible and try not to think right away about your upcoming day.

“Write down all of your dreams and images, as they can fade quickly if not recorded. Any distractions will cause the memory of your dream to fade. If you can’t remember a full dream, record the last thing that was on your mind before awakening, even if you have only a vague memory of it.”

Commenting on the spiritual implication of not remembering one’s dream, Pastor Nons Amano, explained that it is not good for a Christian not to remember his or her dream.

He said, “The implication is that such a person is missing the information that God is releasing to him or her because it’s the time Heaven is broadcasting. It’s a moment that vital information about destiny and things to happen are being released. So, if you don’t remember your dreams, devil is keeping those ideas and information so that you won’t be aware of it. Then, you must lea
rn to speak in tongues to activate the spirit, which is like the antenna, to be able to pick signal in the spiritual realm.”

He also advised that when people eat heavy food before sleeping, or they leave their phones on such that it could ring to wake them suddenly, or they start talking the moment they wake up, they might not be able to remember their dreams.

Also, an Islamic cleric, who identified himself simply as Adebayo, said there was nothing wrong for a Muslim not to remember his/her dream but that “it is wrong to share your dream with a stranger that is not your trusted person.”

In his response, a psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, explained that people could lose track of some of their dreams but that “when dreams are very (thoroughly) impactful, you tend to remember.”

By Tunde Ajaja | Source: Punch


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