Fang Talks

Five years?!
09 01 14

Dream recall

Exam today went well, but still feeling sickish so put off project work ’til tomorrow.

Lately I’ve been working on my dream recall again, for shits and giggles. There’s this actually pretty clever formula of setting your alarm 4.5 hours into your sleep, and then at 1.5 intervals after that. You know how sleep works, right? You start by slowly going into deep sleep, then bounce up to REM (rapid eye movement), back down again, and so the cycle continues. Dreams occur during the REM phases of your sleep cycle. It’s all a tad more complicated than that, but a good general overview.

Dreams are nasty little buggers to remember, right? It’s because your brain doesn’t have them flagged as high-priority information, since hey, none of that was real, so what significance could it have? You need to discipline the grey bunch into flagging them as important though, but just saying “remember dreams pls” isn’t very effective. (Not saying it doesn’t work, just kind of a slow method.) This is where those alarm clocks come in. 4.5 hours is a decent estimate to the end of one of your first REM phases. Waking up as it’s about to end, or when it’s just ended leaves you conscious with the dream still fresh in your memory. At the very least you’ll remember tiny tidbits. And that’s enough. Whip out pen and paper, a smartphone, or whatever you use to take notes, and write those tidbits down. Recalling and processing them in this way gives the brain a good kick, “hey, pay attention!” Since you haven’t been awake for very long, and awoken during a lighter sleep at that (REM isn’t deep sleep), you won’t have much trouble getting back to sleep again, back into the cycle. 1.5 hours later, you’ll be ending another REM phase, so that’s why you set your alarm clocks at that interval.

I’ve personally found this to be one of the most effective ways of training dream recall. Carefully documenting everything you can strain your still slightly sleepy brain to remember not only helps with giving that extra punch of “remember dreams” to your brain, but also helps with keeping them separate from reality. You write them down in the knowledge that the experience was just a dream. I don’t go keeping diaries, so anything not saved in that way isn’t real. Back when I had decent dream recall, but wasn’t really writing them down, I sometimes caught myself doubting the “realness” of an experience I remembered. Haven’t had something like that yet, we’ll see how it holds up. Oh and of course writing them down with dates and all is good for checking if those déjà vu moments really “happened” before.

Man, dreaming is fascinating. I should write about this stuff more often.
~ Fang


  • 10/01/2014 (9:26 AM)

    So the end goal here is lucid dreaming right?

  • 10/01/2014 (3:52 AM)

    Dreaming is pretty cool but I’d get pretty annoyed by the alarm clocks in time. I actually wake up before my alarm clock these days. I figure that my brain is aware it’s coming and wakes me up in anticipation. As far as dream recall goes…I constantly wake up how you described near the end of REM sleep. I should probably go to bed earlier or wake up later but screw it.

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