Sep 22, 2014

Average Recall - How often do we dream? How many do we remember?

The average person forgets 90% of their dreams within the first ten minutes of waking. If I have a gift, it is an increased capacity to remember dreams. To give a conservative estimate, let's say I recall an average of 4 dreams each week. After having tracked for nearly three years now, I can safely say I recall a dream every night, however, morning cycle dreams are easiest to remember. Four dreams a week is 16 dreams a month, and 192 dreams total. Humans dream every night. If all we ever dreamed was once a night, I would be at a 53% recall. The average person would recall only 36 and a half dreams of the year.

Except, we dream every time we enter in a REM cycle. A typical night's sleep will result in 4-5 sleep cycles of REM and NREM. One might argue we forget our dreams because they happen in deep REM sleep. I remember mine best in the third stage of NREM, which research has suggested is possible. Because of this, we can dream anywhere between 4-6 times a night. That's 1460-2190 dreams in a year. If 90% are forgotten, the average person recalls anywhere from 146 to 219 dreams. That still allows for about 3-5 dream recalls a week. Do you remember that many dreams on average? I know people who swear they don't dream because they can't recall even the vaguest sense that there was anything but unconscious silence and non-existence between night and morning.

If dreams earlier in the night are harder to recall, lets just use the last couple cycles. Someone who recalls two dreams every night is remembering 730 dreams a year, or 50-33% of the total number of dreams a human brain has in a year. Now, I recall a dream every night in vivid detail. Most dreams are vague feelings and ideas or images. I recall full scenes every night, and full stories 2/3rds the time. Anyone can increase their dream recall by simply making a concerted effort to think consciously about the space and events you just woke from as soon as you feel yourself back in solid state reality. I have tracked so long that encoding is a second nature. Certain dreams will stick out so much to me that I can remember them for days and weeks without recording them. I still remember dreams from when I was a child, some I never recorded until I began this website project. If I want to recall the whole story of a dream that doesn't make sense as the disjointed scenes I remember, that's where I need to do relaxation techniques, transcription, 'unconscious' recall (letting the mind wander with the original intent to recall to trigger the memory of the sleeping state).

I recall a dream every night, that's 365 dreams in a year, or between 17 and 25% recall. I think 10% recall is overestimating for the average person. I could believe the average person recalls 1/week, which is between 2.2 and 3.3% recall. But perhaps there are more dreamers out there than I think.

Psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber answers some important questions about dreaming in this article. His answers reflect many of my opinions on the introspective reasoning for dreams, how to utilize your dreams, and interpretive methodology.

When asked "Why is that our dreams rarely follow a logical pattern (e.g., familiar people take on different faces)?", he responded "...humans think in abstract ways through nonlinear cycles. We like to believe we are logical beings; however, we spend most of our waking hours moving in illogical patterns." The dreamscape reflects a different set of laws that govern govern our behavior and cognitive processes. Our bodies follow the physics of the physical world, our minds follow the laws of the psychological world. Dreams combine dynamics of the two.

He said one more key point I would like to reiterate about dream analysis, diffusing a point of contention that has long bothered me with books that list interpretations for dream symbols and how misleading this method of analysis can be for the individual. "We have very personal associations and understandings with symbols in life and there are also some universal understandings to be had; however, they don’t always mesh." He talked about faces representing relationships instead of the actual person, and to learn your own code, what certain things, scenes, and people mean to you. It's about perception.

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