Why do we forget most or sometimes all of what we dreamed about shortly after we wake up?



Why do we forget most or sometimes all of what we dreamed about shortly after we wake up?

In: Biology

When you sleep a lot of the functions of the brain is turned off and not working. One of these functions is the ability to form new memories. Your brain is only able to keep about three seconds worth of memory at once without this function as these are thoughts that are actively being worked on. Even when you wake up and you are able to form new memories again your mind is able to recognize the thoughts as just dreems and will discard them as unimportant.

Honestly we’re not entirely sure.

It seems like dreams are a tool our minds use to organize and reflect on our memories.

And that memory and sleep are closely related. Counting sheep kind of turns off your memory which can help you go to sleep, sort of like putting it into an indexing mode.

Another view is that dreams are how our subconscious minds process reality, like our prehistoric animal minds. No language or math, just imagery and sensation. Sunlight for love, sunset for death, etc.

And when we wake up, our conscious minds assert themselves over our subconscious, and so the thoughts of the subconscious vanish with it, leaving only trace memories of images we don’t consciously understand.

Sleep, memory, and consciousness, are all concepts that science still doesn’t have a perfect grasp on.

Even our sense of time gets involved in a puzzling way. Ever have a dream about hearing a knock on your door and then some other things happen over time, but you wake upto an actual knock on your door? How did your dream seem so long if it was triggered by a knock just a moment ago?

We’re just not sure. We know some details here and there but the whole picture eludes us.

Could definitely be wrong but had a teacher tell us once it’s due to the brain considering it nonessential information and chosing to not store it.

Some people with chronic illnesses (myself included, I think it’s my ME that does it) have really vivid dreams and we can recall a tremendous amount of detail from them. Problem is, whenever I dream like that, which is almost all the time, I never feel rested. When smart watches analyse my sleep it’s almost all REM sleep and not enough deep sleep so that might have something to do with it.

When you dream, your unconscious mind is alive and hosts your feelings, activities, and desires. It’s a jungle in there, but with unlimited creativity and opportunity. When you awake, your mind is flooded with new sensory input from your environment, and the unconscious part goes quietly back to sleep. It’s luck for us; we’d be in a pickle if we couldn’t tell our dreams from our waking life.

Think of your mind like a computer, with 2 different types of storage. You’ve got your short term memory, which is your PC’s RAM, and your long term memory, which is your hard drive/SSD. When you wake up, your long term memory takes a minute or so to crank up, so the short term memory can’t save to it the way it normally does.

If your dream is especially memorable, and you fixate on it and think about it for several minutes after you wake up, you’re much more likely to remember it. This is also why having a notebook to record your dreams can be helpful, to write them down the moment you wake up.

That said, there is research to suggest that dreams are just your brain reorganizing information in your memory, and nothing is more boring than listening to someone else talk about a dream they had, so there’s not much practical purpose to keeping a record.