I’ve always been fascinated by my dreams, and love analyzing their meaning. I have fantastic dreams, related to people in my life or the stress I’m currently going through. I think it gives me a window into my subconscious mind and helps me analyze what I’m not digesting fully at that moment. The problem is…I forget them almost immediately upon waking. A lot of people do, right?
Even as our body rests, we fulfill our suppressed or repressed wishes. Through our fantasies, we release our anger, tension, stress, and anxiety in a non-harmful way. We meet our sexual and antisocial desires. Some times it helps us to solve our complex problems.
Remembering your dreams is the first step into the ever-illusive “lucid dream,” where you can control what happens inside the fantasy world of your brain. I would love to get there one day, but alas, I haven’t been able to have that much control over my thoughts just yet. One day, I will! To be able to recognize your dreams as dreams while they are happening, you have to be familiar with the way your own fantasms work. Before it is worth your time to work on lucid dream induction methods, you should be able to recall at least one dream every night.
Here are 5 Methods and Tips that have assisted me towards my goals of Dream Recall and improved sleep:
How to Recall Your Dreams
Planning for a full 8-hour rest
Getting plenty of sleep is the first step to good dream recall. If you are well rested, it will be easier to focus on your goal of recalling dreams, and you won’t mind so much taking the time during the night to record your reverie.
Another benefit of getting plenty of sleep is that dream periods get longer and closer together as the night proceeds. The first dream of the night is the shortest, perhaps 10 minutes in length, while after 8 hours of sleep, dream periods can be 45 minutes to an hour long. We all dream every night, about one dream period every 90 minutes.
Dreams are amazingly persistent. People who say they never dream simply never remember their dreams. You may have more than one dream during a REM (dream) period, separated by short arousals that are most often forgotten. It is generally accepted among sleep researchers that dreams are not recalled unless the sleeper awakens directly from the dream, rather than after going on to other stages of sleep.
Start a dream journal
I have a turquoise journal with cherry blossoms wrapped around the cover that I adore. I sleep with it placed beneath my pillow, equipped with my favorite pink pen tucked just inside. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night and jot down a few words that remind me of the dream I just had- words that may or may not help me remember the fairy gardens I was frolicking through in dreamland.
Find a journal that you like—something special just for your dreams. Keep it next to your bed. Before you sleep, open it to a blank page and leave a pen on it for the night’s dreams. Think about getting a unique, unusual pen for your journal—for your dream journeying. Your preparation shows your psyche that you are serious, and inevitably you will begin to recall your dreams more clearly.
Engage in a Visualization Meditation Before Sleep
This is my favorite thing to do to end my day. I love Jason Stephenson’s meditations on youtube. I’ll link to my absolute favorite galactic reflection for your pleasure.
I love traveling through the inner spaces of my skull, wandering through the day and allowing my body to melt into the bed. I can feel my body tingle and reset, gently unwinding from the stress of the day. It’s seriously mind-blowing.
By using visualization, you create strong neural pathways in your brain, just as if you had actually performed what you visualize. Because the brain tells the muscles how to move, these neural pathways result in more precise, stronger movements, enhancing your actual efforts.
10-Minute Mindfulness (with co-author Steve Scott)
When you set aside judgments and limiting beliefs while visually meditating, you go to a place within your mind that has no concept of time or physical restrictions. It helps you reach your potential. While imagining that you can run a 10K won’t actually make you physically capable of doing it, full sensory visualization can help you achieve your potential and clearly define new goals. It reduces stress. And, it’s so easy!
If there is one thing you should take away from this article- it’s that visualization meditation is a must-do for dream recall and for maximum mental health benefits.
Decide to remember your dreams more
Before you doze off at night, repeat the phrase “I will know I’m dreaming.” This technique is known as Mnemonic Induction to Lucid Dreaming, or MILD, a fancy way of saying you’re using a sleep aid.
When I decide that I’m going to dream, I usually do. Before bed, I try to think about what I want to tackle in my sleeping hours. I think about whats bothered me, what kind of thoughts have been repeating in my head, or otherwise. It’s a powerful exercise in self reflection
Use a dream anchor
This one is a little more difficult for me to do because I’m so nomadic, which is why I keep my journal beneath my pillow. I tend to sleep on my side, and usually touch the soft edge of my journal as I stretch and move into the waking world. If you are always sleeping in the same bed, this will be easier.
A dream anchor is something you psychologically “tie” to a thought or reminder. Pick an object that you see EVERY morning as soon as you wake up. It could be a picture on your wall or something on your nightstand table. Tell yourself that every time you see that object, you’ll remember your dreams. After a few weeks of telling yourself this every day and actually doing it as well, you’ll find that just by looking at that specific object you can remember your dream easier. You’ve trained your mind to do what you want and remember more dreams!