BUILDYOURMEMORY.COM / A mnemonics and memory improvement resource
Mnemonics and memory / Build Your Memory
roman room statue

How memory operates
Why we forget
Observation and memory
Using mnemonics to link together memories
Mnemonics to master a foreign language
Mnemonics to remember numbers - The number/rhyme system
Mnemonics to remember your dreams
Advanced number mnemonics - Pegging
Mnemonics for quotations
Mnemonics to remember abstract symbols and letters
The Roman Room or journey system
Mnemonics to remember names and faces
Mnemonics for rememberring appointments - The Mental Diary
How to combine the systems - The Mental Database

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How to remember your dreams

In this section of the site, I intend to outline a method whereby you may form a record of your dreams. I shall endeavour to explain the details of this system as this section unfolds. However before doing so, I would just like to take a few moments to offer you a brief explanation of the purpose of dreaming. So that you will know exactly what it is that you are attempting to recollect.

Does everyone dream?

Some people claim that they never - or rarely - dream. Well the truth of the matter is that everyone dreams practically every night of his or her life.
If they did not do so, then they would soon begin to suffer from all sorts of psychological ailments. For dreaming is absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind. The thing is that some people remember their dreams, whilst others do not.

The reason that some individuals do not seem to remember their dreams can be explained by the fact that during the course of a typical night, we all go through a cycle of four distinctly different levels of sleep. This is illustrated clearly in the below diagram.

What the diagram illustrates, is that between level 1 and level 2 of the sleep cycle, we enter a state known as REM (which stands for rapid eye movement) sleep. It is whilst we are in this particular state, that we experience the condition that we refer to as ‘dreaming.’

Figure Two. The Human Sleep Cycle.

Dreams

It has been found through experimentation, that if an individual is awakened from sleep, whilst they are in this state. Then they tend to remember dreaming. Although the exact details of the dream usually quickly fade away. Whereas if they are awakened whilst they are in either level 3, or level 4 of sleep, then they are far less likely to remember the exact details of any dreams that they may have experienced.

I shall now do my best to explain a few of the many theories, that have been put forward over the years to explain why exactly it is that humans dream at all. Why do we dream?

There are a number of interesting theories around, all of which proclaim to offer the definitive explanation for why human beings, and a large variety of other animals experience the condition that we refer to as ‘dreaming.’ I will now endeavour to outline two of the most widely accepted of these theories. These are:

  1. Dreaming for organisation
  2. Dreaming to symbolise

Dreaming for organisation

Every healthy human being on this planet spends an average of eight hours out of every twenty-four sleeping. What our brains seem to be doing whilst we are in this vulnerable state of unconsciousness, is organising and categorising events and information that we were exposed to during the course of our waking day. Then proceeding to file this information away (so to speak), in our long-term memories.

Experiments that have been conducted by various psychologists, who have in their time worked in the field of ‘Sleep deprivation,’ have shown that subjects who have been exposed to long periods of uninterrupted consciousness appear to become increasingly paranoid.
One possible explanation for this paranoia could be severe interference of clear thinking in an individual. This interference may result from the vast amount of information, which is just hanging around in such a person’s conscious mind, awaiting categorisation and eventual storage.

Another symptom of prolonged periods of sleep deprivation is a tendency towards hallucination. Again this appears to be the result of the unsorted information in the individual's mind, interfering with their ability to think clearly.

Dreaming to symbolise

The psychologist Sigmund Freud (1901) put forward the theory that dreaming was the minds way of dealing with emotions, desires, and feelings, that the conscious mind would have a considerable amount of difficulty dealing with in any other way.
These emotions are sometimes completely suppressed by the individual’s conscious mind and thus exist only in the unconscious mind. Where they appear in a disguised form, known as dreams.

The term that is most commonly used to describe the study of these suppressed and disguised emotions is ‘Dreamwork.’ In dreamwork, symbols are believed to represent the desires and private thoughts of the individual. For example Freud often made reference to the image of a tower in a dream, as being a kind of phallic symbol. He also referred to a vulture as being representative of death.

Freud also seemed to believe that an individuals mind sometimes hides emotions or desires from itself, by altering a dream image into its exact opposite. For example an image that an individual would find repellent whilst awake, may bring forth emotions such as love in a dream.

Whichever of the above theories you personally believe to be true (both or neither), the system that may be used for committing to memory any dream that you feel merits such attention, is a relatively straight-forward one that I shall now proceed to outline.

The method

Upon awakening from a dream that you wish to commit to memory, all that you need to do, is to follow these three basic steps:

  1. First take about three or four key images from the dream. That is the images that stood out the most to you in that particular dream.
  2. Next link together these images in an imaginative and creative way. The exact details of how to do this were explained in how to link together memories.
  3. For the final step, you simply need to link the first of your key images to something that is already stored away in your permanent memory. For example an object in your bedroom, such as a bedside lamp, or a picture on your wall. You could even use the peg numbers that I will outline in Pegging (although I don’t advise tying them up in this way), or more effectively the super pegs that will be outlined later in the mental database.

Using the above method, you should find that all that you need to do in order to bring forth the memory of a particular dream, is to think of the object or peg number that you linked the first key image of your dream to, and then you should find that as you work your way through the rest of your key images, the entire dream will return to your conscious memory. Unravelling itself in mere moments.

To keep a list of your dreams over several weeks, months or even years, you simply need to take a couple of your Super Peg images and then use them as a kind of group dumping ground for your dreams. Each one linking to a super peg image. This way thousands of dreams can be memorised with relative ease.

If you are still a little uncertain about the effectiveness of this system, then why not try it for yourself. Maybe even tonight!

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