It is commonly thought that dreams occur in the Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep; just after you doze off and just before you wake up when your eyes are twitching about under your eyelids, for roughly twenty minutes. This may be true in a lot of cases but I’m not convinced it is true for everyone. Unless there’s some kind of time dilation that makes twenty minutes seem like hours; just running through a couple of my dreams on pen and paper can take much longer than twenty minutes and I miss out a lot of the details and can’t put in the pauses where nothing is being said or done, like I’m just walking along a road for a while etc.
Still, assuming that most people dream during REM sleep, it’s very important that it is not interrupted. That means getting to bed early enough so that your mind can run through the full sleep cycle without being interrupted; meaning you wake up on your own rather than being shocked awake by an alarm clock. Even if you still don’t remember what your dreams were about, adopting this lifestyle will be far more beneficial to your mental well-being. Dreaming is a bit like a computer program that runs through all the daily events; logging different files in the right places. All the things that upset you that day are analyzed and stored, so are the things that made you happy; if the sleep cycle is interrupted, the computer program isn’t running till the end and the information doesn’t get stored in the right places. Just like if you switch off a computer by cutting the power instead of shutting it down properly, files can be lost or corrupted. Emotions are stored in the wrong places and cause all kinds of problems; the program will try and restore normality the next time round but will never be allowed to finish. Problems can never be resolved in your mind.
If you do start to remember some dreams it may only come in flashes; or not a whole dream with no real continuous flow of film footage, just a random number of still photographs; it could be that in modern times we’ve decided that remembering dreams isn’t all that important, so we simply forget them; writing down anything you do remember will tell your brain that you would like to remember them if that’s okay. It’s a bit of an old cliché, writing dreams down, but there’s no better way of etching an idea into your brain than writing it down on paper. Writers do it all the time; you jot down an idea for a new plot and just let your brain mull it over, your mind continues the story you wrote down on the paper. How many times have you written something down that it’s vital you don’t forget; only to find once you’ve written it down there’s not a thing on Earth could make you forget it? Writing down your dreams, or the scraps you can remember, really does work; it gives a solid message to your brain saying you need to remember all those dreams you keep making. After a few months your dreams will seem to become more vivid; only seem because your dreams have always been that way, only now you can remember them. After a few months you most likely wont even need to write them down anymore; they will become part of your expanded life and you may even notice your better mental health through more restful sleeping.
Please don’t ignore your dreams; they are very special and, no matter how poor or unhappy you may become, nothing will be able to take away the joy of dream recollection.