If you came across this article, you probably already know how important it is to keep a dream journal. If you don’t, and you want to learn more about the benefits of dream journaling, you can read our dedicated article:
Keeping a dream journal will tremendously improve your ability to remember your dreams. But how to keep a good dream journal? Here are some tips to make the most out of your dream journaling practice.
Like a lot of other practices, you need to be well prepared before you start. First, make sure you set a real interest and an intention to explore your dreams. Then, you should have what you need to record your dreams next to your bed when you wake up. Choose the method that works best for you: paper and a pen, a recorder, a smartphone with an app, etc.
With good settings and a real intention, it will be quicker and easier to turn dream journaling into a habit.
The best way to prevent your dreams from fading away is to write them down immediately when you wake up when they are fresh in your mind. After only a few minutes, most of your dreams will be gone if you don’t make an effort to remember them.
In the morning, you should avoid abrupt awakenings: instead of jumping out of bed to switch off your alarm, ideally, you should take a moment to concentrate on what you were dreaming of before you woke up. Then gently get up and promptly write it down in your journal.
It can also happen that you wake up from a dream in the middle of the night. In that case, if you’re motivated enough, it’s important that you write it down. You may be tempted to think that you’ll remember this dream when you wake up, and you’ll write it in the morning. But it’s likely that when morning comes, you’ll have forgotten this dream entirely.
When keeping a dream journal, especially when you start, there will be mornings when you don’t remember anything, or you wake up with just a blurred memory, a vague emotion. It doesn’t matter what it is, write it down anyway. You can simply check a box where you say you didn’t remember anything, or write down some keywords to describe whatever feeling or memory comes to your mind. This way, you keep building the habit of writing in your journal every morning. And even if it’s not much, it’s always better than nothing when you’ll come back to it later.
The practice of dream journaling is not just about writing down your dreams. It’s also about reading them again. Every now and then, you should go back and read your previous entries in your journal. If you feel comfortable with it, you can even share your dreams with someone you trust. Saying them out loud or even just reading them again will help you train your dream memory. It may also unveil some other elements you forgot, or reveal some insights to understand your dream. Doing this regularly will improve your dream recall, therefore it’s a very good thing to do when you start dream journaling, and you still don’t remember much from your dreams.
Of course, when you write down a dream, the story is important. But it’s far from being the only thing to write down. There are some key elements to record to have a better understanding of the dream.
First of all, focus on your emotions. How did you feel in that dream? Was it bad or good? What emotions did you experience? There is often more than one emotion — the more you can identify, the better.
Then, you need to understand how your dream relates to your present context. Does it reflect something that happened recently, or your current mood? Is it completely different? To answer that, you should pay attention to the elements in the dream: characters, themes, actions, places, etc. What are they? How do you interact with them? Are they familiar or even recurrent in your dreams?
Focusing on these elements and writing them down will help you to make the most accurate description of your dream. The better it is described, the easier it will be to understand it, and the better you’ll remember it when you read it again later.
If you’re very motivated, here’s an extra tip to go further. Once you wrote down your dream, you should look for the elements related to your previous day. To do so, you can write a brief summary of your day before going to sleep, and then see which elements came into your dreams. This way it will be easier to understand why some things appear in your dream, and what elements you should focus on.
Keeping a dream journal is an awesome practice! If you do it well, you will quickly see improvements in your ability to remember your dreams. It’s also the first step towards dream analysis (if you want to understand your dreams) and lucid dreams (if you want to control your dreams).
You don’t need anything to start keeping a dream journal, paper and a pen are fine. But if you want a template to fill all the elements, a way to filter and search your dreams, the option to add images, and more, we created an app for you! You can keep a dream journal for free on Oniri. It will guide and help you to remember your dreams, understand them, and even control them with lucid dreams. See you there!