At some point, you have most likely met someone who says that they never have dreams. They are not lying because they genuinely don’t remember any of their dreams. The average person dreams at least seven times a night. Depending on when you wake up during your sleep cycles, you may or may not remember what you were dreaming about.
In one study, 1,000 adult Austrians were surveyed to find out if they dreamed and how often. Nearly one third of them dreamed at least 10 times a month. Another third estimated that they dreamed less than once a month. The only real way to find out for sure if you are actually dreaming or not is to take part in a sleep study. Researchers can look for rapid eye movements that signify REM sleep to see if you are dreaming or not.
All of the research indicates that essentially every human being has REM sleep, which means that every person also dreams at night. If you don’t have dreams, then that means that you just are not remembering your dream. There are several reasons why you may not remember your dreams when you wake up.
1. You Use an Alarm Clock
Your alarm clock may be good for waking you up for work, but it does not help you remember your dreams. Normally, you would remember your dreams in the half-asleep state that you enter as you gradually wake up. If your alarm clock interrupts this sleep state, you may not be able to remember your dreams.
2. You Sleep Heavily
Studies show that people who wake up frequently during the night are more likely to remember what they are dreaming about. If you are a heavy sleeper, you may miss out on this chance to remember your dreams.
3. You Are Not Responsive to Your Environment
The people who have the best dream recall are also the people who respond best to hearing their names when they are awake. While there is no way to know why this connection exists, one hypothesis says that these individuals may be more likely to respond to their environment in general and wake up. By waking up during the night when they hear a noise, they are able to remember their dreams better.
4. You Are Not Trying to Remember Them
Sometimes, you wake up in the middle of the dream and quickly forget about it. When you try to remember what you were dreaming about a few minutes later, you realize that you can’t even guess at what the main topic of the dream was. Your dreams tend to disappear soon after waking up, which could be the reason why you do not remember them.
If you do want to remember your dreams better, there are a few options. Some people use a voice recorder on their phone or a dream journal to immediately remember what they were dreaming about. Keep a dream journal and a pen next to your bed so that you can write down your dreams as soon as you have them. This will help with your dream recall and allow you to actually dissect what you were dreaming about.
5. You Drink or Take Sleeping Pills
If you are heavily sedated, you are going to sleep too heavily to remember your dreams. In addition, some medications like Ambien actually change how much time you spend in REM sleep. This means that you actually could be dreaming less if you take sleep medication. When you do dream, the heavy sedation makes you sleep so heavily that you do not remember them.
Are There Cultures That Never Dream?
The famous Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a group of people who lived thousands of years ago near the Atlas mountain in North Africa. According to Herodotus, these people did not eat any living thing and never had any dreams. Modern historians think that Herodotus was talking about a society known as Atlantis that was purported to thrive many thousands of years ago. About 8,000 years before Plato, this society achieved a supreme level of scientific, spiritual and artistic progress before natural disasters and war brought it down. The leftover members of the society fled to areas like North Africa and Persia.
In Persia, the remaining Atlanteans were thought to have worked with Zoroaster and the magi to develop new religious traditions. In North Africa, the Atlanteans were thought to work with ancient Egypt to develop the religious traditions of that culture. Other than the reports from Herodotus, it seems like no culture or society has actually reported being without dreams.
If you do not have dreams, it is unlikely that it will have any physical, spiritual or mental consequences. Most likely, you sleep too heavily or wake up too early to remember your dreams. Try using a dream journal to track your dreams and make sure to get plenty of rest at night so that you have a better chance of remembering them.