Whenever I have been with a group of people talking about dreams, there is usually at least one person who claims that they don’t dream and never have!
At first I felt sorry for these folks, because my own dream-life has been so prolific, instructive, and entertaining for me—for as long as I can remember. But in the process of doing research for my book, The Meaning of Dreaming, I came to understand the truth that indeed, EVERYONE DREAMS!
It’s just that there is a certain percentage of people who don’t seem to be able to remember their dreams or even that they have been dreaming during sleep. Or at least if they do remember, it is a very rare occurrence for them.
Here’s how the “every-human-being-dreams” theory has been proven:
Sleep/dream studies and experiments have shown that everyone experiences the REM (rapid eye movement) state of sleep, when dreams primarily occur. Under laboratory-controlled conditions, all those who claimed to be “non-dreamers,” when awakened from REM-sleep, agreed that they were dreaming, even if the details of the dream were vague to them.
It is because of these valid and often repeated scientific studies about dreaming, that no one can truthfully say: “I don’t dream!” You do dream! Everybody dreams! It is not possible not to dream. It is a part of the human psyche.
Therefore, it would be clearer to say: “OK, perhaps I do dream, but I never (or rarely) remember any of my dreams. So as far as I’m concerned, I might as well not dream at all.”
This leads to further questions:
Why do most people know that they’ve been dreaming and/or also remember some or all of the contents of their dreams, and others do not?
ANSWER: Regular nightly dreams primarily come from the subconscious mind, where we store all our memories. Some people don’t remember dreams because of traumas large or small. They prefer (consciously or otherwise) not to deal with many (or even most) of their memories, blocking them out from both the conscious and subconscious minds. They are proficient “forgetters,” as a defense mechanism.
Another theory on this subject is that some people are predominantly more “right-brained,” that is, they are very creative, fluid, and unusually sensitive to what they see and hear especially, with colors, sound, and music. This type of person would tend to have more vivid and easily-remembered dreams, expressing his or her predominantly creative nature.
The “left-brained” person is more intellectual, logical, linear in his or her thinking patterns, and not as prone to flights of fantasy, visualization, or imagination.
Remember that everyone has both sides of the brain, so being left-brained or right-brained type is not an absolute situation for anyone! We are always a mixture of the two types. But it is true that often one side of the brain influences a person’s thoughts, behavior (and dreams!) more strongly than the other.
Is it a bad or harmful thing to not be able to remember one’s dreams?
ANSWER: No. Many people have happy and successful lives without being able to (or even wanting to) remember their dreams.
However, those who are interested in higher levels of consciousness may want to explore a new approach to dreams and dreaming. The great masters of yoga suggest that an important way to grow spiritually and to achieve the highest possible states of wisdom and happiness (bliss) is first to learn to change your level of consciousness at will. This begins with becoming aware of what level of consciousness you are inhabiting at any given time, including when you are sleeping and dreaming.
They also offer simple techniques to help you to start and continue this process for yourself.
The above topics and techniques are discussed in much more detail in my book The Meaning of Dreaming. If these subjects are of interest to you, I think you’ll enjoy reading it.