how to remember your dreams
As often as we hear someone say "I had the most bizarre dream last night", we similarly hear "I don't dream", just as often! This latter statement is just not true! Everyone dreams, every nigh, many times per night. Dreaming happens whether we remember it or not!
But what happens when you want to remember your dreams and they remain elusive? Well, like any practice (e.g. mindfulness, competing in a sport or hobby), the more practice you put in, the better you will be at dream recall.
We need varying amounts of sleep through our life-cycle. For adults, we need 7-9 hours per night. If you are not getting enough, you wont' have the focus or the time to recall your dreams.
The place where you sleep should promote sleep. Books, electronic equipment, laundry baskets, open presses or cupboards will all remind you of things you could do, or you should be doing and not only are a distraction but will reduce the quality of your sleeping space. Remove electronic gadgets from your bedroom, close all doors, put laundry or visible reminders of unfinished chores outside of your bedroom before you retire for the night.
Quality sleep makes for quality dream recall. Try to remove as much light and sound from your sleeping space as possible. This may be tricky if your have a partner who snores! Fun fact; when we are snoring, we can't be dreaming!
This doesn't have to be a specialised dream journal, a regular is absolutely fine. Personally I now use as they provide plenty of room to sketch and scribble.
When you are ready to go to sleep, put your journal and a pen or pencil beside your bed where you can see it (remember to ensure your pen has ink and your pencil is sharp!). Tell yourself that tonight, when you dream, you will remember your dream when you wake. Repeat this to yourself, but don't make it a demand!
As you head for sleep, think back on your day, the people you met, the places you visited, feelings, thoughts but don't get stuck in them, just let them drift by as you drift off to sleep.
when you wake up in the morning
By this time, you will likely have gone through several sleep phases during the night, each lasting about 90 minutes each. You are also very likely to have dreamed at least once per dream phase. So, what do you do now that you are re-entering your waking life?
DON'T MOVE - Stay totally still.
When you wake up, stay absolutely still as your move from sleep to wakefulness. This takes some practice but it's easy to maintain once your learn to resist the temptation to move around immediately on waking. In the stillness, gently ask yourself what do you remember? How do you feel on waking?
Do you remember what you were dreaming?
Do you remember even a fragment of your dream? A person, a place, a situation, or maybe something bizarre will float into your memory. Recall as much as you can. In that waking position, stay there until you have as much of the dream as you can remember.
Quickly write down what you do remember.
Collect your journal and pen/pencil and scribble down what you remember. Try not to edit, or think too hard about what you are writing, just let it flow. If you are a visual thinker, maybe a little sketch or image will help consolidate a lot of information in less effort.
Avoid analysing your dream as you write. Your conscious mind (and your ego will try to censor, describe, change you dream if you are not aware to avoid this from happening). Let the dream unfold and once you've begun to write. You will have time to analyse/interpret/appreciate your dream once you've recorded it all.
As I mentioned above, practice is the secret to restful sleep and dream incubation. If you share your sleeping space, maybe invite your partner to try it with you. Good sleep hygiene and the practice later of sharing your dreams has very many benefits for you both, as well as to you yourself.
And so, why not give the tips and tricks above a try! Practice makes perfect as they say. So, in the mean time, when you have some dreams, come back and take a look at some of the resources on our website to help you engage this wonderful dimension of your life.
Until then, sweet dreams.