“You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream…how you gonna have your dream come true?” (“Happy Talk” from the musical “South Pacific”)
New research refutes the old claim that everybody dreams. Here are reasons why some people don’t.
Reasons why some people don’t dream
1. Brain anomalies. According to dreamresearch.net, lesions on certain parts of the brain can result in a person’s inability to dream. The sleeper can experience the typical amount of REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep without dreaming and still maintain mental health.
2. Insufficient sleep time. REM is the sleep phase when dreaming takes place, and many sleep-deprived folks don’t reach it. NREM (non-rapid eye movement) phase is 80 percent of sleep time and has three stages through which the sleeper passes before reaching REM dream state.
3. Drugs, alcohol, prescription medication. Side effects may include sleep disturbances which in turn affect ability to reach REM phase.
4. Sleep aids. Some types of sleep aids keep sleeper in NREM. Others only affect sleeper’s memory and dream recall.
No dream or no dream recall?
There is a difference between not recalling dreams and not dreaming at all. While new research shows that dreamless sleepers exist, they still are not the norm. Most people dream nightly. Many simply do not recall their dreams.
It is interesting to me that during my conversations with sleepers and dreamers, those who report they do not recall their dreams at all (which makes them doubt whether they have dreams at all) seem to share a body of character traits:
1. They are more pragmatic versus theoretical.
2. They are more visceral versus intuitive.
3. Their conscious mind awakens rapidly even though their bodies might not.
The last trait is key because those who don’t easily recall their dreams find that once they are awake, their conscious minds jump into action. They start thinking rather than keeping still to observe and absorb what is happening in the subconscious arena. It’s like beginning to yammer and yell over the whispers of the subconscious mind. They don’t, as I like to say, “linger in the twilight” that ethereal zone where their subconscious minds and conscious minds are equally active. Once the conscious mind is fully engaged, the subconscious mind steps into the background, taking with it memories of dreams. That is why I suggest to people who want to recall their dreams to linger in that twilight zone where the conscious mind can pick up those dream impressions from the subconscious. (See Bellaonline's “Improve Your Dream Recall”)
Let what dreams may come come
If your general health is good, including getting quality sleep nightly, there is no reason to fret over not dreaming or recalling your dreams. Some who believe that dreams are a language of spiritual communication yearn for the ability to dream and decode dream symbols to unlock mystical messages from their higher selves or beyond. While anyone can learn to understand dreams, if you find that you cannot summon your own dreams to the foreground of your consciousness, perhaps it will be good for you to practice meditation first.
A good meditation practice, among many other benefits, will strengthen your ability to tap into your subconscious mind during waking hours. I recommend Bellaonline’s Meditation site where experienced meditation guide Susan Kramer provides a wide variety of meditation techniques. Indeed, I believe that meditation is a type of wakeful dreaming so if you can’t dream while asleep, try wakeful dreaming through meditation.