Infrequent Dreams

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Lately when I sleep at night or randomly during the day, I seldom have dreams. When I do, they’re so fogged I can’t remember them. Most nights I see darkness that feels like it lasts only a few seconds, but when I glance at the clock, I have slept for hours. I did not have this problem when I was younger. It seems that the more I age the fewer dreams I have. Some dreams are nice, others are disturbing. I use to have daydreams all the time also; those are gradually disappearing too. Abnormally long periods of time pass before I drift to sleep. I am literally laying in bed for hours trying to sleep. I ask my mother what I should do but all she says is to turn on my side and go to sleep. What does this all mean? My friends say I’m fine and just need more sleep. I typically sleep about 4-8 hours during the week. I could really use some guidance on how to deal with this.

A. It is relatively normal to have difficulty recalling our dreams. One could go months without having remembered even a part of a dream. Though you don’t remember having dreamt that does not mean that you haven’t. I’m not certain that your inability to remember your dreams is indicative of a dream problem. It may potentially be a sign of sleep disturbance. You stated at the end of your letter that you typically only sleep about 4-8 hours during the week. I’m not certain if you meant 4-8 hours in an entire week or per night. My assumption is that you meant the latter. If you’re sleeping fewer than 10 hours a week, this would explain your inability to remember your dreams.

If this continues to be a problem, then you should be evaluated by a physician. Report your sleep problems and inquire about the possibility of having a sleep study. A sleep study is a set of tests that a doctor uses to determine how well you sleep. The tests will measure things such as how long it takes you to go to sleep, and how long you stay asleep, among other aspects of your sleeping patterns.

Sometimes, when people have trouble sleeping, it can be a sign of psychological problems. While that may be a possibility in this case, you didn’t mention experiencing any psychological symptoms.

In the meantime, keep a journal about your potential sleep problems. It would be helpful to document the following information in your sleep journal: how long you sleep each night, how long it takes you to fall asleep, your anxiety level (no anxiety, low, medium or high), significant happenings of the day, and so forth. Keeping track of your sleep patterns could help to uncover a potential problem. Also, if you do eventually see your doctor about your sleep problem, your sleep journal would be a valuable resource in determining what might be wrong. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 May 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Infrequent Dreams. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/05/24/infrequent-dreams/