It may not feel as though there’s much going on when you’re asleep, but that’s really not the case. Along with all the work that’s going on to keep you alive, your brain continues to remain active too, and this is one of the reasons why we dream. Although you might not think you dream, everybody does, in fact we dream multiple dreams throughout a single night. We just don’t always remember them. And this is where starting a dream journal can really help.
A dream journal is a means of keeping a record of your dreams. It can be in the form of a notebook that you keep by the side of your bed, notes jotted down on your phone, or you could even download a specialist dream journal app to keep track of your nightly visions. The aim is to write down or draw anything you can remember from your dream as soon as you wake so that it is still fresh in your mind.
And the purpose of keeping a dream journal? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to look at today. Here are 10 reasons why we think you should start writing a dream journal:
1. You Will Remember Your Dreams Better
If you’re someone who struggles to remember their dreams, perhaps believing that maybe you don’t dream at all, then starting a dream journal may seem like a completely pointless task. After all, what is there to write down if you can’t remember anything? However, one of the major reasons for keeping a record of your dreams is that it can help you remember your dreams in future.
But how can you get started? Well, the key is to write down something, anything. Whether that’s an image, a feeling, a smell, a sound, absolutely anything at all that comes to you the very second you wake. If you don’t get it jotted down in those first few moments of waking, it’s highly unlikely you’ll remember. So, it’s important, that no matter how insignificant you think it is, to just write it down.
It won’t take long before reaching for your journal first thing becomes a habit and you’ll notice with time that the amount you can recollect from your dreams gradually starts to increase. You see, regular dream journaling helps to vastly improve our dream recall ability, and this leads on to a whole host of other benefits.
2. You Will Notice Patterns In Your Dreams
When you’ve been keeping track of your dreams for a while it is likely you will start to notice some patterns emerging. For example, if you’ve been dreaming about teeth, or that you’re falling, this could be your inner self trying to communicate with you in some way. Although there is very little scientific evidence connected to dream meanings, there are some psychoanalytical theories that suggest they offer a deeper insight into our psyche.
Dream journaling over a period of time helps us to notice these recurring dreams and then allows us to try and make sense of the messages they communicate. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something and now it is up to you to interpret what that might mean. Once you notice a pattern, you can then dig deeper into dream interpretation by looking through a dream dictionary or searching online.
3. It Can Help You Process Your Emotions
One of the reasons we dream is because it is a way for the brain to process what has happened to us in our waking life. It could be anything from stuff that has happened that day, emotions we have felt, people we have interacted with, things that are troubling us, any stresses we might have. Essentially, it’s a bit like a brain filing system. Dreaming gives us that chance to process and reflect, and then decide whether it’s worth storing the information away or whether it can be put to good use. And it is the information that is deemed useful that is played out in our dreams.
But here’s the thing, if you’re not paying close attention to this information then you’re unable to react in the way that your subconscious would like you to. It is trying to send you clear and hard messages on how to resolve any issues you have in your waking life, and yet you’re just not listening. Which is where keeping a dream journal can help. Keeping track of how we feel in a dream often correlates to how we feel in real life. And if we can begin to understand that, it allows us to process our emotions better.
4. It Helps With Creativity
When you look back and read some of the entries you’ve written in your dream journal you’ll probably find that most of it is utter nonsense. After all, none of us can control what things we dream about, and anything is possible in dream world. But in amongst the nonsense is also a whole lot of creativity going on. Because when you sleep, it gives your mind a chance to kick into full on creative mode. We place no limits on ourselves when we sleep, which gives us the creative freedom to come up with some of our best ideas. But what a waste if we can’t actually remember them in the morning!
Many an artist, singer, and writer have used their dreams as inspiration for their creative work. And the best way to tap into this creativity is by keeping a record of your dreams in a journal. Every now and again read over what you have written and use it as a source of inspiration. And as with most things, the more you write in your journal, the better you’ll get at remembering things in your dreams, which all leads to even more creative ideas for you to work with.
5. You’ll Feel Less Stressed
Recording your dreams can actually make you feel less stressed. And the reason for this is because it helps to reveal what your stresses are, allowing you to take action to relieve them. Many of us keep our emotions locked up inside, but of course this only serves to make the stress and anxiety worse. Dreams allow us to explore these emotions without fear of judgement and helps us to identify what the root cause of our stress could be.
Sometimes you don’t even know what’s making you feel so stressed. All you know is you’ve got that horrible anxious feeling that something isn’t right. Your inner mind however, knows exactly what’s wrong and it’s trying to help you by placing clues inside your dreams. By keeping a log of our dreams we can figure out what these clues mean and then use them confront the problem head on.
6. Improved Self-Awareness
Dreams can tell us a great deal about ourselves. We all have our own story, but some of that story remains locked up inside us. It’s trying to get out, to reveal itself, but it’s hard when we don’t let it, or our inhibitions and lack of confidence prevent it from emerging. Dream journaling opens up the door to tell our story, to become our true selves, and most importantly to own who we are and be proud. When you truly know yourself, it helps to navigate through your waking life and this improved self-awareness does marvellous things to our overall sense of wellbeing.
7. Helps You Practice Lucid Dreaming
OK, so you know we said earlier that you can’t control what you dream about? Well, that was kind of a lie, because lucid dreaming is exactly that. It’s by no means easy, and it takes a tonne of practice, but lucid dreaming allows you to dream whatever you want to dream about. Sounds impossible, we know, but basically it involves tapping into the subconscious mind so that you control what it is thinking. So basically, you’re asleep, but you’re also fully aware of the fact you’re dreaming. And when you’ve trained yourself to distinguish between the dream world and the real world you can then take control of what it is you’re doing in that dream world.
Where dream journaling comes into play in all this is that not only does it help with your dream recollection, but it also teaches you how to recognise the signs of dreaming. With practice, being able to recognise these dream signs will enable you to recognise when you are dreaming and then you’re pretty much halfway there.
8. Improves Memory
So, we’ve already mentioned that regularly keeping a log of your dreams can help you remember more of your dreams in future, but this also translates into real life by improving our memory too. The brain is still very much active when we’re asleep, especially when we’re dreaming. And if you think of the brain as being like a muscle that you need to exercise to keep it at its best, with every dream we have and particularly if it is a dream we can remember, we’re giving our brain a workout. This means our brain is then better equipped to retain information, learn new things, and pick things up more quickly.
9. Increases Confidence and Self Esteem
We’ve touched on this a little bit already when we talked about how dream journaling can help improve your self-awareness. However, this increased self-awareness comes with a big old boost to our confidence and self-esteem too. You see, the more you know yourself, the more it empowers you to believe in yourself, to trust in yourself, and to have the confidence to make changes in your life for the better.
10. Starts Your Morning Off On A Positive Note
Not all of us jump out of bed with a spring in our step in the morning. But by having a purpose, in this instance knowing that you need to write in your journal, it makes the whole waking up thing that little bit easier. And once you’re made your notes, you’ve got everything off your chest, and you’ve had a chance to process the night’s events it can actually leave you feeling a lot lighter. This sets you up for a much more positive start to the day than hitting that snooze button will.
Can you imagine, all of these benefits from simply taking 5 minutes out of your morning to write down your dreams. It’s worth doing, right?
And, if nothing else, keeping a dream journal is fascinating. Just picture in years to come, looking back and reading through some of these dreams you’ve had. Hey, for all you know, you could be hiding the next best-selling novel up in that head of yours.