Journaling is a popular ritual for recording thoughts and activities that occur while we are awake. However, our minds are still quite active when we are resting. Since the memory of a dream often begins to fade as soon as we wake up, dream journaling can help us remember what goes on in our minds while we sleep. Recording dreams can give us invaluable insight into ourselves through observed patterns and themes. This practice may also unleash creativity, reduce stress, and improve health. Keep your dreams alive with dream journaling.
The practice of keeping journals and diaries dates back to ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Native Americans. By recording their dreams, many people graced the world with enduring legacies. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity came to him in a dream. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla attributed much of his scientific genius to his dreams. Thanks to Thomas Edison’s regime of lucid dreaming and recording what he experienced, we gained efficiently working cameras and light bulbs. Countless artists have harnessed imagination and inspiration through dream journaling. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, author Stephen King, and director Christopher Nolan have all acknowledged the impact of dreams on their work. Paul McCartney of The Beatles composed his classic “Yesterday” as it came back to him from a dream.
An Enduring Record
Most people remember less than 10% of their dreams. Keeping a dream journal can help enhance dream recall. Reminiscing on a dream can be an enjoyable and revelatory experience. You may be able to discern and appreciate how you have developed mentally over time. Psychologists understand that dreams are profound thought processes that can provide insight and be a conduit for creativity in our waking lives. A journal ensures that these dreams remain accessible, vivid, and accurate for future reference.
Spending a few quiet moments focusing on and writing our thoughts can have a remarkably calming effect. According to psychologists, journaling helps reduce anxiety and depression. A study published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment reported that people who engage in such expressive writing experience fewer stress-related doctor’s visits and describe improved psychological well-being.
A Healthy Exercise
The Advances in Psychiatric Treatment study also discovered that journaling has therapeutic effects on the body. Researchers reported that participants experienced these physiological benefits of expressive writing:
- Improved sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced pain
- Decreased severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
- Improved lung and liver function
- Better post-surgery recovery
A dream journal is a unique, treasured source of insight into the issues and relationships that concern you most when you’re awake. As you observe patterns in your dreams, you may see similar behavioral patterns in your waking life. While dreams often don’t make sense as singular events, they may connect with other dreams over time, to compile a clearer picture of your world, or echo general emotions you are experiencing when awake.
A dream journal builds a habit of intentional reflection. It is a powerful way to practice mindfulness, cultivating an acute awareness of present thoughts with openness and nonjudgement. In turn, mindfulness may lower dream anxiety and enhance dream quality, according to research in Psychology Today. Authors of a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found that people who cultivate higher awareness during waking hours demonstrate higher awareness of their mental states while dreaming.
In lucid dreaming, you can manipulate the events in a dream, create positive endings, or learn to avoid nightmares. Dream journaling not only helps with recalling and interpreting dreams; it is vital to having lucid dreams. Recording dreams bolsters dream memory recall, training the mind to be more involved with dreams and often making them more vivid.
Let’s Get Started
At first, it may seem challenging to recall a dream you barely remember. By becoming intentional and consistent with journaling, you are alerting your mind that remembering dreams is a priority. Following these tips, begin your dream journaling adventure by setting aside just five minutes each day:
- Choose a composition book and keep it near your bed.
- Before falling asleep, tell yourself that you will remember your dreams.
- Write about your dreams as soon as you wake up; write “I can’t recall” if you don’t remember anything.
- Full sentences are not necessary; a few keywords or a simple drawing will do.
- Capture the emotions you felt while dreaming.
- Note parallels with your life.
- Rely on your intuition to decipher your dreams.
- Maintain good sleep habits.
Other Prompts to Recall Dreams
Begin dream journaling at any time by going back to your earliest dreams. Record whatever you recall, even if it is a faded image or fragment. Write down recurrent dreams to look for long-term patterns and themes. Another way to start is by noting especially memorable dreams. Include the date of your entry, and if you can recall when you had the dream, write that as well.
Paper or Digital?
Digital devices bring such convenience that many people choose not to write with pen and paper anymore. However, some experts believe that the old-fashioned method imparts benefits we can’t get from working on a keyboard. Research published in the New York Times suggests that cursive handwriting stimulates the reticular activity system of the brain, which helps us focus more clearly on the information we process. However, if you opt for digital methods, a host of word processing and voice-to-text apps can provide excellent alternatives to pen and paper. The objective of dream journaling is to get started and be consistent with whatever medium works for you.