Hello LW,

There has been some interest around here about atypical mental phenomena such as synesthesia, blindsight, absence of mental images, and so on. There have also been sappy posts and requests for help. I'd like to discuss my personal quirks in the hopes that it is interesting and someone can help me.

I suffer from occasional hypnopompic sleep paralysis, which isn't uncommon. The unusual thing is that I remember my dreams every night, in extensive detail, usually several of them. Unfortunately, last night I vividly dreamt through what seemed like days' worth of having a severe hangover, all before I even woke up and had a real one, and it was a terrible experience. I'd like to be able to choose to drift into unconsciousness, as I occasionally do, to have a break from being mentally aware for such lengthy times spanning weeks.

Does anyone else have similar experiences? Has anyone read any scientific research on this subject? How do people not remember their dreams?

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30 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:24 PM

I don't know how you could learn to become properly unconscious, but if I were you, I would consider learning to lucid dream extremely high value.

This is exactly what I was going to suggest. Instead of forgetting your dreams, why not turn them into periods of activity? The first step in learning to lucid dream is learning to remember your dreams, which is already covered.

I'd almost be envious, since I haven't even gotten that part down yet.

I don't know how you could learn to become properly unconscious

From what Jasen_Murray has told me you can learn to become unconscious via a whole bunch of meditation.

When you say you had a real hangover, had you been drinking? If so, stop drinking.

Have you experimented with sleep posture? A cursory search turned up a 2000 study showing that sleeping in a supine position might contribute to lucid dreams. Some of the subjects suffered from hypnopompic sleep paralysis:

Dahmen N; Kasten M. REM-associated hallucinations and sleep paralysis are dependent on body posture. Journal Of Neurology, 2001 May; Vol. 248 (5), pp. 423-4

Dahmen N; Kasten M. REM-associated hallucinations

Is that a sciency way of saying 'dreams'?

How do people not remember their dreams?

Well, by having our long-term memory bits not engaged in remembering the dreams, I'd guess.

Found this via wikipedia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21570

I suppose if you really want to experience something similar, you might try the magic of chemistry.

I'm curious about this as well, though I have what seems like almost the opposite problem.

I almost never dream at all, or if I do, the memory fades so fast that even immediately upon waking I am unaware of it. I don't just mean that I forget what my dreams were about, I mean there's no sense of having dreamed at all most nights. I dream perhaps three or four times per month, and remember things from perhaps one in three of those. I've actually been haphazardly training myself in Lucid Dreaming, and of those dreams I remember, I attain Lucidity more often than not.

I've always thought this was a bit strange, since I was able to become moderately accomplished at Lucid Dreaming, but utterly failed to retain memories of dreams much more often than before I started, and training yourself to remember afterwards is supposed to be easier than training yourself to attain Lucidity. What did happen, is I started remembering that I'd dreamed even if I couldn't recall any details or impressions about the dream. It made me wonder if maybe I was dreaming with normal regularity and the memories were just even further out of reach, or if it had actually revealed the full extent of how often I dreamed which was only a few times a month.

Either way it seems like something strange is going on, but if it's the former, then whatever's going on with me is an extreme example of people not remembering their dreams that may be relevant.

I find that I remember my dreams much more clearly when I wake up gradually and naturally. I generally do not remember my dreams when I wake up due to an alarm. This is only a personal empirical observation, so YMMV.

Opposite for me. Moreover, I thought it was common knowledge that you're more likely to report dreaming if your sleep is interrupted. Maybe not?

That is correct, I remember from reading LaBerge's book on lucid dreaming.

I find that I remember my dreams much more clearly when I wake up gradually and naturally.

Same here. Two anecdotes...now we have data right?

Thirded! Now we can write a paper about it!

When an alarm wakes me up I usually don't remember as many dreams. It's easier to remember more if I wake up naturally.

[-][anonymous]11y 0

Likewise.

Fifthed (sixthed?).

How many anecdotes does it take to get under p=.05 again?

Does anybody specifically recall the opposite case?

[-][anonymous]11y 3

Yes, completely the opposite here. I also find remembering dreams and inducing lucid dreams very easy, if I want to. Combine the two, and with the help of an alarm every 5-8 minutes, I can spend hours in a lucid dream state with full recall (with very quick interruptions of awakening in between, of course).

As stated, that's not the opposite. When an alarm wakes me I almost always remember at least my last dream, so by hitting the snooze button over the course of hours I can remember everything more reliably than if I woke up once naturally.

The first time the alarm goes off, are you more, equally, or less likely to remember multiple previous dreams?

[-][anonymous]11y 2

The first time the alarm goes off, are you more, equally, or less likely to remember multiple previous dreams?

There's no difference for me between between any of the alarms. I remember multiple dreams on the first alarm. I don't tend to remember dreams when I wake up naturally because it takes me longer to get my attention together, so the dreams fade before I make the effort to remember them.

[-][anonymous]11y 0

Just checking... this is after the same amount of time, right?

The amount of time spent asleep varies; on average, it is less when waking up to an alarm. However, I have noticed this effect when waking up naturally after a shorter-than-usual amount of time, or when setting an alarm for a longer-than-usual amount of time. I find alarms jarring, and that seems to disrupt my memory of any dreams that occurred.

That first paragraph makes me sad I can't do the same. I have a HUGE number of mental anomalies, which has given ME many insights about how brains work that other people lack and probably would so for others as well if they could be communicated, and I strongly suspect some are even related to introspection in ways which allow greater access to both themselves and others and normal processes.

Sadly however any data would be noisy to the point of uselessness fr several reasons, including not having any model of what normal human functioning is supposed to be like and the language only supporting comparisons not descriptions and I wouldn't even know what parts where relevant anyway, and the fact that trying to introspective for an extended period of time or to deep tends to make my mind break down entirely and I start sprouting nonsense uncorrelated to reality.

The last person who told me that he sometimes remained conscious for the entire night, he subsequently developed narcolepsy. I don't think that clinical narcolepsy is a natural category, but a better one is having little or no sleep other than REM. In some people this eventually causes "excessive daytime sleepiness" and is diagnosed as narcolepsy. But most people with almost all REM sleep forget their dreams normally. If you do go directly into REM, you may find short naps very effective.

You might get some insight from this dream work writeup I posted on my blog from earlier this year: Dream Works.

It is not long and there are a couple of points that directly relate to your query.

I too have One Particular Scenario. As I remember my dreams, I have some experience with thinking I am trapped in a sinking car and not at all thinking it is a dream.

At this point in my life...I just don't care, even during the dream. The experience of surviving hundreds of such dreamed car sinkings is with me even though I don't know it is a dream. It's not a proper nightmare any longer, it's boring rather than scary even as it happens.

I still have real nightmares sometimes, but they never seem to repeat.

A few days ago, I made a mistake and read about people who died free soloing . A terrifying mistake.

Fortunately my dream avatar is invincible and never dies, often literally walking away from car sinkings along the ocean floor or saved by miraculous coincidences, for example velociraptors killing and eating their way through dozens of people trapped in a cave suddenly turned into the Keebler elves once they killed everyone in front of me. Something like this always happens. Unfortunately it's more of a coincidence/Forrest Gump thing than a superpower/Matrix thing.

I should really get on that lucid dreaming thing.

Nightmares? I'd call those 'superhero fantasies'! In a Rincewind kind of way. Sound fun. :P

It's sort of like being the roadrunner when I'm being attacked, rather than a proper superhero. If someone shoots at me, their gun explodes, or they miraculously miss, or I deploy a shield of air. If someone fires a flamethrower at me, I casually raise my hand and deliver and elemental blast of ice destroying their machine. If someone attacks me, I levitate, or get super strength and punch their weapon to shards, or teleport them far away. If a dinosaur or other monster attacks me, it gets transformed into something harmless, like a pumpkin or a Keebler elf, or just shrinks to the size of my shoe.

Unlike with the roadrunner, most (2/3ish) magic solutions to my problems are caused by me having temporary super-powers, rather than environmental magic plus luck like how the roadrunner is able to run through a mural, or not be affected by gravity after running off a cliff. Assuming that he doesn't think "insubstantiability, on!" before running through a rock.

But my powers are temporary and minimal. I almost never (get to) fly, because most problems that could be solved with me being able to fly are solvable with the subjectively lesser powers of levitation, feather-fall, or super speed. Levitation is common. I can only remember one dream where I was able to magically fly, ever.

But my powers are temporary and minimal. I almost never (get to) fly, because most problems that could be solved with me being able to fly are solvable with the subjectively lesser powers of levitation, feather-fall, or super speed. Levitation is common. I can only remember one dream where I was able to magically fly, ever.

I feel for you. ;)