Dreams have long been a source of inspiration for us since the time of conscious humans almost began. Our fascination with what our dreams mean and why we have them have continually been a core discussion in many different professional fields. From psychologists, and therapists, right through to scientists who study the mind.
We each spend around two hours every single night in a dream state, although this time is hard to gauge entirely accurately, and we move from one dream to the next many times during a night’s sleep. Our deep curiosity about sleep and dreams has brought the idea of keeping a dream journal into mainstream popular culture.
Just like a traditional journal keeps a record of our waking moments, a dream journal records the dreams we experience during our restful hours.
There are many ways you can keep a dream journal and even more reasons why you should, read on to find out everything you need to know about keeping a dream journal.
What Is a Dream Journal?
A dream journal is a written record of your dreams. You can go old-school traditional and have a beautifully bound notebook for your scrawling, or you can even use specially designed apps for a journal to write down and remember your dreams.
Everyone will have woken to a dream they remember but have you felt that dream slowly slip from your memory, sometimes even as quickly as just a few minutes post waking, and all you’re left with is a series of nonsensical images and possibly a strong lingering emotion?
Every time you wake from a particularly vivid dream or nightmare, you can jot down everything you remember before it drifts from your mind.
Although science still can’t tell us for sure what a dream is, it’s widely accepted that dreams are nothing more than gateways to our subconscious minds.
By writing down your dreams in a dream journal you are giving yourself the gift of insight. The opportunity to reflect and even study your dreams.
You never know, they may reveal more to you than you ever expected.
Why Should I Keep a Dream Journal?
A dream journal is incredibly personal and specific to the journal keeper. Just like many other introspective habits you may have weaved into your day, keeping a dream journal can help you understand yourself on a much deeper level. Also, it can be a super fun experience that can provide you with some entertainment and also creative inspiration.
Remember Your Dreams
Our dreams seem to slip our minds like sand through our fingers. Holding on to them after we have woken up never lasts very long. By keeping a dream journal you can revisit your dreams. This practice also makes it easier for you to remember your dreams over time.
By paying close attention to your dreams and writing them down as soon as you wake up, you may find it becomes a lot easier to remember your dreams. This brain exercise may also filter into other memory work, improving your day-to-day memory.
A Deeper Understanding of Your Thoughts and Emotions
They say dreams are windows of the soul. Take a peek and you can see the inner workings.– Henry Bromell
Just like a traditional journal can help you to process your day, experiences, and emotions, a dream journal can also provide insight into how you feel and why you feel the way you do.
Our dreams are often heavily influenced by our daily waking experiences. Such as the anticipation of a big event or the fear of a medical test result. However, sometimes the things we experience may weigh heavy on our souls and we don’t even realize but our dreams will always mirror our conscious and subconscious emotions.
By keeping a dream journal you are allowing yourself to take a deeper look at the current state of your emotions. You may find that you are experiencing recurrent dreams that you wouldn’t have remembered if it wasn’t for keeping a dream journal.
By identifying patterns within your subconscious and your dreams you can make your emotional processes a lot easier by understanding a deeper roots cause for why you feel the way you do.
Control Your Dreams
You may have heard of the term ‘lucid dreaming’. This form of dreaming is where we become conscious that we are dreaming and can even give us the power to take control of the things we dream.
Think of it like this. If you experience nightmares regularly, lucid dreaming can give you the tools and the power to change your dream. To give your nightmare a good ending, or even stop it altogether.
By writing your dreams down in a dream journal you are telling both your conscious and subconscious minds that your dreams are important. This can help to make it far easier to enter a state of lucid dreaming. Some people even believe that lucid dreaming is a gateway to astral projection.
Creative Problem Solving
Our dreams don’t follow our scientific laws of living. They are fantastical worlds that work by their own rules and shifting realities. By writing your dreams down in a dream journal you may be surprised by the solutions that are contained within them.
We know that our dreams are often molded by our waking problems and experiences. By remembering to jot them down and being able to come back to this record you may find a rather creative solution to a problem you are currently experiencing that you may never have thought of before. You can use your dreams to take back control of your waking life in ways you never thought possible.
Source of Inspiration
Many of our creative geniuses have used their dreams to inspire their greatest creations. As an artist or other creative person, your dreams may provide your biggest breakthrough. By keeping a dream journal you are gathering a book full of fantastic ideas that could just be the idea you needed, especially if you have been experiencing a creative block recently.
By writing a dream journal you are not only creating a record but you will also be teaching yourself to be more open-minded and inquisitive. This change can help you to dive deeper into your creativity and find some really beautiful ideas. If other creatives, like Edgar Allen Poe and Salvador Dali, used their dreams to provide them with their genius inspiration, why not you too?
We all know the meanings of our dreams are sometimes buried deep beneath a lot of stuff that really doesn’t make much sense at first glance. That’s where using a dream journal for dream interpretation comes in.
Interpreting your dreams can be a really fun activity. Taking the time to look deeply at your dreams, consider every angle, and notice the little things that you may otherwise have forgotten if you didn’t write them down can lead you down a rabbit hole of self-discovery.
Each of your dreams may have a different meaning if it seems fairly similar to others. This is where dream journalling can help you to pay closer attention to your dreams and to provide you with a more interior insight into your thought, feelings, and why you do what you do.
7 Tips for Starting a Dream Journal
When writing a dream journal you’ll want to start with a notebook that is dedicated to your dream. You can use many of the different journal or diary-style apps that are out there but there’s something incredibly special and personal about putting pen to paper.
Starting a dream journal is really simple and it can be as direct or as complicated as you want it to be. It’s all about opening your mind, letting yourself go, and carving out the intention and time to really stick to a daily dream journal.
That being said, there are always some excellent tips that can help you get started and thrive on your dream journal journey.
Our dreams are like water through a sieve at times. So vivid they may be the moment we rejoin our waking life, in just a few short moments they are often reduced to nothing more than flashes of feelings and images that begin to make less and less sense as the day goes on.
If you decide to write a dream journal you’ll want to write in it immediately after waking. Don’t wait until you have had your morning coffee or come back from a spin class.
The important moments and signs within your dream will be long lost by then. Set your notepad up by your bed with your pen or pencil and set the intention that as soon as you wake up you will begin recording your dream.
Draw Your Dream
Some of us just don’t have the way with words we wish we did and that’s ok. We all have different talents and if you find your creativity is stunted by putting words down onto paper. Perhaps drawing may be more your vibe.
Instead of writing what you see within your dream, how you feel, the people you interact with, and where you are. Draw it. Use the colors that stand out, the shapes that you remember, and draw your dream. Sometimes this can help you draw upon more details of your dream than you can with writing.
Include Lots of Detail
Write down everything you can remember, no matter how small the detail may be. Include sounds you may hear, how warm or cold it feels, the weather, the color of the grass (just because the grass is green in our reality doesn’t mean it can’t be blue in your dream reality). Even the smallest of details may end up meaning more to you than you first expected.
Writing in detail about your dreams in your dream journal can feel a little tricky in the beginning. Sticking to a daily dream journal entry can give you the practice you need to make recalling details easier and easier as time goes on. In just a short while you’ll remember so many details you’ll barely remember those faded dreams you always forgot.
Try Automatic writing
This method of writing stems from our surrealist artists. It involves writing freely without thinking. After you have woken up from your dream, if you struggle to recall details or figuring out what to write puts you into a bit of a tailspin, you can use automatic writing instead.
Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or even whether you are keeping your letters on the lines. Just write what comes to mind at that very moment. No matter how nonsensical it may be let the words that spring forth in your mind dictate the words your hand puts on the paper.
Keep Track of Your Sleep
As much as your dream journal is there to record your dreams, keeping track of your actual sleep can also be extremely beneficial. Save a little portion of your daily dream journal entry to quickly jot down the length of your sleep, whether you woke up during the night, and even how you feel in the morning. Do you feel rested? Tired? Or energized?.
Writing down how your dream and sleep have left you feeling physically is just as important as the particulars of the dream itself. You may also begin to notice patterns such as that late-night cup of coffee always bringing on more vivid nightmares, or how a relaxing bath leads you into more peaceful dreams.
Look For Patterns
Once you have been recording your dreams in your dream journal for a little while becomes easy to analyze them. This analysis can help you to discover patterns and recurrent themes you hadn’t noticed before. These patterns often open us up to new discoveries of ourselves and even solutions for problems and challenges we may be facing.
It may be a face in the background that you begin to see regularly, the sky may be the same threatening shade of purple regardless of what is happening within your dream, or you may always experience the same set of circumstances it’s just that the people change every time.
Dreaming the same things over and over is usually a gentle nudge from your subconscious that something else is going on. Something that needs to be noticed and dealt with.
Share Your Dreams
Choosing people you trust to share your dreams with can reap incredible benefits. Not only can it help you with your general dream recall, but you’ll also be surprised by the things that suddenly stand out to you when you recount your dream out loud to another.
If you are struggling with something this form of communication can help lighten the load. You may even find that those you trust find the very advice you need just by hearing your dream story.
What Should I include in a Dream Journal Entry?
Each dream journal is different and entirely personal to the journal keeper. So, what you think is important to write in your diary, may not seem as important to the next person.
However, it can be very helpful especially for beginners to have a simple framework with regular daily questions. This framework can help you in the very beginning as you strengthen your ability to remember your dreams.
Below is a list of some things you may want to include in your dream journal framework. But, remember you don’t have to include them all or you may have even more you want to include. Go with whatever feels right for you.
- Your dream location
- Your emotions
- The people in your dream
- The weather
- What you were doing
- Stand out details from your dream
- Any dreams or symbols you saw
- How you feel once you have woken up
- How you feel about the dream
Dreams can often be very confusing, jumping from one illogical scene to the next. They can often leave us feeling very confused which can make writing a dream journal entry, especially if you are brand new to the practice, very overwhelming.
Setting up a reliable framework of questions can give you the support you need to write about your dreams. Over time you may find you no longer need a framework of questions, or you may love the organized setup on a dream journal entry with each question requiring its own special spot.
Dream Journal Examples
Many people keep their dream journals close to hand and far from prying eyes. However, there are a few people who have converted their dream journals into an online forum for those of us who need a little inspiration beginning ours to look at.
If you have read any more than one single blog article on dream journals you may notice you recognize some of the dream journal examples below. The old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ works perfectly here. Some of these examples are so good there’s no point in trying to put a whole lot of different just to be, well, different.
- Elder Dreams – This blog-type dream journal is written by comic book writer, Dan Curtis Johnson. Containing his dreams from 1988 to 2005, it’s a great example of how a simple entry can spawn and incredibly imagination. Especially if his work is anything to go by.
- Reddit – There are many forums on Reddit that cover dream journal entries from Reddit users. Such as The Dream Journal forum. Reddits dream community spans the entrie planet and it can be an excellent place to get advice but also to get help with interpretation. The countless number of dream journal entries will help ignite your inspiration.
- John DuBois – The late software engineer, John DuBois, kept a dream journal that spanned all the way from 1991 to 2007. What’s really interesting is that not only does he organize his entries by date but also by the theme of his dreams.
- Pinterest – Pinterest really is a treasure trove. Not only will you find examples of dream journals but also printable pages, prompts, and inspirations to help you along your dream journal experiences.
Are You Ready to begin Writing Down Your Dreams?
Writing in a dream journal is a great tool we can utilize to go deeper into our self-discoveries, it can help us to reduce our anxiety, reveal solutions to challenges we experience, and even open us up to a new facet of our spirituality.
As with all things it may feel a bit strange and even difficult in the beginning. But, stick to it and you may unravel some incredible gifts such as insight and creativity.
Have you begun writing a dream journal? How do you find it has helped you? If you’re looking for a specific interpretation, be sure to check out our other articles about dreams. From dreams about houses to dreams about snakes, we have you covered.