What’s the secret to remembering dreams?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

monet parasol
“Woman with a Parasol” is an oil painting by Claude Monet. This style of painting, known as impressionism, has a very dreamlike quality to it.

Have you ever had those dreams that leave you sweating and gasping for breath when you wake up? It usually happens to me after a nightmare. It sucks that those are just about the only dreams I remember. Other than nightmares, I don’t remember my dreams. Yet, I have friends who remember them every day, whether it was scary or not! Why can some people remember their dreams while others can’t?

According to Lyon Neuroscience Research Center in France, it’s because there are differences in brain function! You see, the researchers tested 36 young adults. Half of the subjects who could remember their dreams easily were called high recallers, while the other half who couldn’t were categorized as low recallers. The neuroscientists attached electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors – which measure brain activity – to their heads and asked them to slept in a lab overnight. They also gave the subjects some earphones that played different sounds randomly throughout the night, one of which was the sound of their name!

Apparently, the high recallers reacted in their sleep more when they heard their name in the earphones! “In response to first names, the high and low recallers produced different [brain] waves,” said Perrine Ruby, the leader of the study, “The high recallers seem to be much more reactive to the environment. Low recallers seem to be much more resistant.”

Since the high recallers were more reactive, they wake up more easily in the night. According to Ruby, waking up during the night gives individuals a chance to remember their dreams more frequently, unlike low recallers. What does that mean then, that high recallers have better brains?

“It is not a good or bad functioning, it’s just a different way of processing information,” Ruby says. “Those different ways [of processing] seem to facilitate – or de-facilitate – dream production or memory.”

I guess the secret to remembering your dreams is waking up during the night! Well, I like sleeping, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m a low recaller.