How to Keep a Dream Journal
July 06, 2018
Author: Shelly Weaver-Cather
Dreaming is one of the most fascinating things we do as humans.
As we sleep, our brains process information and moments from our days, and the images we see can range from fairly monotonous to totally absurd. When we’re excited about something, we dream about it, when we’re worried, we have nightmares. People even tend to have similar dreams when they’re stressed (Ever dream that your teeth were falling out? You’re not alone!) and examining your dreams in relation to your daily experiences just might help you understand yourself on a deeper level.
Dreaming about certain things in your life might even make you more apt to tackle them, according to a study Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. People who were asked to do a task and then instructed to nap–those who dreamed about the task were much more successful at completing it than those who didn’t. Keeping a regular dream journal can reveal recurring themes and storylines that might tell you more about situations in your life and working journaling into your routine can be a healthy addition in your life.
How to dream journal It’s pretty a pretty straightforward process. When you wake up, immediately reach for your journal and write down everything you can remember. Even if all you can remember is how the dream made you feel, or one seemingly small detail. The more you journal, the more you’ll start to see patterns develop and you can start remembering more about your dreams.
Writing down how you felt, what you saw, who was part of the dream, and anything that stuck out as significant in a quick list is all you really need to get started.
You don’t need to keep a pen and paper journal, either. Waking up and immediately going to write can be disruptive enough that you start to forget details, so if you find that you’re struggling to hold on to plot points, your phone might be a better option. You can download an app like Dream Journal Ultimate and even set a reminder to journal and back up your dreams.
What if you don’t dream? Many people think they don’t dream, but you may just be forgetting them in the haze of waking up. Keeping a dream journal can actually help you start remembering more details from your dreams and can even cause you to start lucid dreaming. Stick with it, and as you get more consistent, you should start to have more memories when you wake up.
If you wake up and you really can’t think of a single thing, that’s okay. Write that down. There may be a correlation between days you can’t remember your dreams and what’s happening your life.
Tips and tricks for your first dream journal
- There’s really no wrong way to keep a dream journal–do what works for you. If it’s a Paper doc, notes on your phone, or good ol’ pen and paper, it all flies.
- Keep whatever you’re taking notes with right next to you. In order to get the best details, you’ll want to start writing down notes the second you wake up.
- Write down everything you can remember and don’t worry about formatting, grammar, or narratives. Just get it all down and analyze later.
- If you want to go above and beyond, take a second to note what your day was like before you hit the hay, you might be able to better attach certain symbols and themes to moods or events in your life.
- Some people format their journal the night before so they don’t have to worry about dating a new page first thing in the morning, causing them to focus more on what day it is and losing details.
- There are thousands of dream interpretation guides available online and in bookstores, but dreams don’t necessarily need to hold significant meaning in your life. What you put into the meaning is what you’ll get out of it, so try not to focus too much on what something might mean, instead look at the whole picture.
- Common stress dreams might include falling, losing your teeth, being chased, or tidal waves. You may notice a correlation between these symbols and high-stress days in your life.
- After 30 days, take a highlighter and run through your dreams—marking common themes, interesting emotions, and plots that seemed important. Use these highlights to compare to next month’s journal and see what you learn about yourself!
Take the 30-day challenge with our team!
This Summer, we’re keeping dream journals to better understand ourselves. Don’t forget to follow @tuftandneedle on Instagram to see what we find!