What It Means If You Don’t Remember Your Dreams

Heather Dessinger

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dreams vitamin b 6

So, I ran into the Easter Bunny last night and he told me he’s tired of fighting ninjas and chalkboard erasers without you. He asked me to help you find your way back from those monochrome dreams you don’t even remember so that, together, you can win control over the marshmallow bog once and for all.

It’s hard to say no to the Easter bunny, so here I am.

Though many of us consider dreams to be nothing more than junk output from REM sleep, Harvard professor Deirdre Barrett disagrees. According to her, it’s actually a highly creative form of thinking.

Though I can’t say what’s on the other side of your victory over the marshmallow bog, I’m betting it’s a solution to a nagging problem, the location of your car keys, or even an insight into a relationship you might not otherwise see.

Need some convincing? Let’s get started . . .

What Do The Theory of Relativity, Google, and The Shape of DNA Have In Common?

They’re all creative breakthroughs made while dreaming, of course! Recounting an interview with Albert Einstein, journalist Edwin Newman described the genius’ first inkling about the theory of relativity like this:

Einstein replied that the basis of the idea had first come to him years ago, when he was an adolescent back in Germany, flunking math, and being counseled by his family to take up a career as a plumber so he wouldn’t be a financial burden on them.

During this difficult period of his life, Einstein reported he had a particularly riveting and memorable dream.

‘In his dream he was sledding with friends at night. They would climb up the hill, whisk down the snowy slope, then climb to the top again to repeat the pleasurable slide.

At one point, Einstein climbed the hill and started to slide down once again, only this time he became aware that his sled was traveling faster and faster  . . . . he realized that he and his sled were approaching the speed of light. He looked up at that point and saw the stars – they were being refracted into a spectra of colors that Einstein had never seen before.’

He felt filled with a sense of awe and numinosity. He understood that in some way he was looking at the most important meaning in his life.’ (source)

Of that dream Einstein later reminisced, “I knew I had to understand that dream and you could say, and I would say, that my entire scientific career has been a meditation on my dream.” (source)

More recently, Google co-founder Larry Page shared the spark that ignited Google’s creation:

You know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid dream? And you know how, if you don’t have a pencil and pad by the bed to write it down, it will be completely gone the next morning?

Well, I had one of those dreams when I was 23. When I suddenly woke up, I was thinking: what if we could download the whole web, and just keep the links and… I grabbed a pen and started writing!

Sometimes it is important to wake up and stop dreaming. I spent the middle of that night scribbling out the details and convincing myself it would work. Soon after, I told my advisor, Terry Winograd, it would take a couple of weeks to download the web – he nodded knowingly, fully aware it would take much longer but wise enough to not tell me. The optimism of youth is often underrated!

Amazingly, I had no thought of building a search engine. The idea wasn’t even on the radar. But, much later we happened upon a better way of ranking webpages to make a really great search engine, and Google was born. When a really great dream shows up, grab it!”

There are so many more examples: Dr. Otto Loewi won a Nobel Prize after a dream helped him devise an experiment to prove that nerve impulses are transmitted via chemicals rather than electrical impulses.

Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleyev rushed to write down the periodic table after seeing it in a dream. The sewing machine and countless other inventions were inspired by dreams.

Vitamin B6 and Dream Recall

You probably don’t want to invent the next Google, but wouldn’t you love to harness your out-of-the-box thinking capabilities to find everyday solutions?

If so, I recently attended a talk given by Julia Ross, author of The Diet Cure, that may help. According to Ross, if you can’t recall your dreams it may be helpful to increase vitamin B6 intake.

Several studies have reported similar findings, like this one which found that vitamin B6 significantly increased dream recall compared to a placebo.

Vitamin B6  helps the body convert amino acids to serotonin, which is the active neurotransmitter during the dream phase. Since B6 is water soluble it cannot be stored in the body, adequate intake is needed on a regular basis. Even then, certain factors can deplete B6 levels rapidly. They are:

  • Stress
  • Excessive coffee intake (source)
  • Many prescription drugs, including antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy
  • Refined foods, especially sugar. These “foods” come to the body devoid of vitamins in minerals, so the body borrows these essential nutrients from other places to break down and digest the “food”
  • Smoking
  • Frequent alcohol consumption

What foods are rich in vitamin B6?

I prefer getting my nutrition from whole-food based supplements and foods  instead of isolated nutrients when possible, so

If you find that you are unable to remember your dreams, you may want to consider increasing your intake of B6 rich foods such as:

  • liver
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • cod
  • sunflower seeds
  • bananas
  • avocados
  • nuts, especially pistachios

If you find that you are still not remembering your dreams, you can try these techniques.

Einstein photo credit: Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. – Modified with Photoshop by en:User:PM_Poon and later by User:Dantadd. (The Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

Leave a Comment

29 thoughts on “What It Means If You Don’t Remember Your Dreams”

  1. I think that’s also how the Twilight books started…the author had a dream she couldn’t stop thinking about. Shoot, I just admitted to reading the Twilight books…oops.

  2. I was told by a naturopath/herbalist that people with a lack of myelin sheathing on their nerves. The myelin sheathing is the protective coating on your nerves. You can rebuild it by consuming healthy fats, especially coconut oil and fish oil. another symptom of poor nerve coating is extreme reaction to sounds (e.g.people who are set on edge by ice chewing) or constantly seeing someone/something out of the corner of your eye. My iridologist could see that my myelin sheathing was shot after my first two kids. I ate a ton of good fats for several months and all those symptoms disappeared! I am much calmer these days (-:

  3. I am sitting here sipping a cup of coffee as I read this, debating whether I’d prefer to remember my dreams and have optimal brain function or enough umph to write a post today. Hmm. Maybe I’ll take a nap instead. 😉

  4. Since I switched to a nutrient-dense, WAPf style diet, I’ve noticed I have the most vivid dreams. I can still remember sensations I felt during dreams, like my heart beating or even the feel of something in my fingers! I hope this means I have a super dose of B6 in my system 🙂

  5. Super interesting! I usually have pretty vivid, memorable dreams. When I supplement omega 3’s, this becomes even more pronounced!

  6. Is nutritional yeast a good source for B6? And is there a way of taking it that isn’t as yucky as mixing with water and chugging it? (I prefer to take my cod liver oil straight up than nutritional yeast :P)

    • Not particularly GAPS friendly if you eat that way but I LOVE nutritional yeast sprinkled on my buttered popcorn and on a bagel with cream cheese. I honestly can’t even remember why its supposed to be good for me, I just like it. I don’t think I’ve ever had it mixed in water but I do remember my mom mixing it in a glass of milk for us when we were kids. I can’t say I liked that but it wasn’t bad either.

  7. What an interesting article! My husband often recalls dreams, but I do not. There has only been 4 periods of time in my adult life that I have recalled dreams: during my pregnancies!! Can anyone possibly explain that? My supplements and diet are the same when I am pregnant and when I am not, so it has always puzzled me… 🙂

    • Sheridan, there is a strong connection between neurotransmitters and hormones. I’m not sure what the exact mechanics would look like for the situation you’re describing, but I’m guessing that is where the answer lies.

  8. It is often necessary to supplement with B6 and I’ve found the form P-5-P to be very helpful since it is already converted to the useable form. I have pyroluria, (and MTHFR) so I can’t convert several nutrients in to the forms necessary to utilize them. Thus I’m very deficient and need to supplement with B6 (P-5-P), and zinc along with some other companion supplements. My dreams have not returned yet, but within a few weeks and a higher dose, I hope that will change. I wonder if it would be good to have liver as well? Since there is copper in liver, I might need to avoid since I’m low in zinc. I’ll have to check how much is in liver.

  9. How long after waking should you be able to remember your dreams? I can recall them about an hour or so after waking but then forget as the day goes on. Is that normal or should we be able to recall them for longer durations?

  10. Very interesting! I can’t remember anything during the day either. I would love your thoughts on molasses. I am working on GAPS intro and am wondering if molasses should have a place in my future.

  11. Dreams have always been a big part of my life. As a child, I had nightmares which I made disappear by slowly changing their script from night to night as I slept. As a teenager, I used to take naps because I thought of them as free movies; I could even set my intention to watch a new episode of my favorite TV show that my mind would write as I slept. As an adult, I’ve had dreams that provided me with important messages at just the right time. Lately, I haven’t remembered my dreams as much, but I also developed an autoimmune condition this year, and I’m sure there’s a connection. To heal, in addition to diet, I’ve recently started Low Dose Naltrexone (recommended by Dr. Joseph Mercola & Chris Kresser & other natural MD’s). The only side effect is “vivid dreaming” and I remembering thinking: “Cool! That’s a side effect I can actually enjoy.” That said, my dreams have been wacky – not scary – but numerous and wild, and I’m glad they’re back.

  12. This is so true! I am so glad you put this out there, Heather. B6 deficiency is such a problem and this is an interesting and effective way to bring attention to it!

  13. I know the nutritionist who did some of the research in this book. She has been a huge help to me. Another book worth looking into wrt amino acids is -Depression Free Naturally_ by Joan Matthews Larson. It is a book not just about depression. The amino acid info is righting, though the info about diet is not, especially if you follow WAPF, paleo or GAPS.

  14. Super interesting. I have been wondering for awhile why I rarely remember my dreams. I had not considered a dietary/nutritional possibility!
    I am going to do a little experiment and make an effort to consume lots of B6 sources and see if I notice a change 🙂

  15. It’s important to remember that much of the research into dreaming isn’t research at all. There are no control groups nor are there standardized conditions.

    I do not doubt that dreaming is highly creative. However, I see no evidence that there is anything wrong with not remembering dreams. In fact, when I am well rested I find that I remember the least about my dreams, leading me to believe that remembering dreams comes from having REM sleep disrupted.

  16. Thanks for sharing. I know you can also not remember your dreams if you don’t want to know that information about yourself. Or if you think the idea of learning about yourself through your dreams is bogus. I have never thought of vitamins 🙂

  17. Interesting! In college, I did research on dream recall and nearly all the studies I found at that time, showed that people can also increase their memory of dreams by 1. Merely making it a point to remember them (conscious effort), and of course, aiming to write them down when you awake. “Creative” people are also linked to remembering their dreams more than those who are no so creative, but who knows which causes which.

  18. I just had the best dream, and I wrote it down in my phone as soon as I woke up.

    I plan on turning this dream into a video game, as I am studying to become a video game programmer.
    I’m hoping this game will be a big hit when it comes out!