What It Really Means If You Don't Dream

Most people know the feeling of waking up from a dream. Sometimes it's with a start and a moment of fright, other times it's a slow dawning of wakefulness during which the dream slips from memory. But some people say they never have these experiences because they don't dream at all. Is that healthy? And what does it mean?

It's helpful to understand the purpose of dreaming. Though it's not fully understood, scientists believe that dreaming is a way for our minds to clear out the actions and thoughts of the day and file some away into long and short-term memory. Rafael Pelayo, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, told Allure that dreaming is somewhat like a filing system for the brain. "All day long, you're bombarded with information — and what helps us adapt to the outside world is the ability to take this new information, integrate it into the previous things that we've learned, and make these connections," Pelayo said. "So you need to remember some things, but you also need to forget some things; dreaming is a situation of remembering and forgetting simultaneously."

It's thought that people who claim not to dream are simply not able to remember their dreams, according to Healthline. Or, it could be that poor sleep is the cause.

Good sleep quality is the key to remembering dreams

Most people have four to six dreams each night, and they occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of our sleep. If something is interrupting the ability to remain in REM sleep, it could be that dreams are being sacrificed.

There are many reasons for bad sleep, but the first to consider have to do with lifestyle choices. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, some medications, and stress might prohibit phases of sleep that are important for getting a full night's rest. Limit these as much as possible and see if anything changes.

Other factors that might cause poor sleep include conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, depression or anxiety, diabetes, and heart disease. If you feel unrested, or worry that you're not getting proper sleep, speak with your doctor to rule out an underlying problem.

And pay attention to that advice to turn off devices that transmit artificial light close to bedtime, according to The Healthy. They're proven to diminish the quality of REM sleep, and therefore your ability to have and remember dreams.