Dream Recall: How to Remember Your Dreams
If you have ever had an interesting dream, you know how exciting it can be to step into another world, in fact another life, while your waking body is asleep. It can be frustrating to not be able to remember what happens in the dream time. You might even be here to figure out better ways to remember your dreams because you know you’re missing out! Rest assured, following these procedures, developed out of my own experience and supported by research, will help improve your dream recall.
As you read through the steps, keep in mind that dreams contain living images that, just like our friends and family, like to be around people who acknowledge them, care about them, and interact with them.
Step 1: Acknowledge that you DO dream, even if you don’t remember the dreams. Everyone dreams (Herlin, B. et al., 2015).
Step 2: Begin to develop a habit of inviting dreams and images to visit during the dream time. This can be as simple as saying in your head or out loud before you sleep something like, “I welcome any dream images that wish to appear; I’m excited to meet you. Please visit.” You may also want to establish a basic ritual to invite your dream images to stay in your memory. You probably already have a bedroom routine. Incorporating a bit of journaling or meditation in which you invite the dream images to visit and let them know you’d like to meet them may help encourage the images to be more memorable.
Step 3: When you wake up, write down any words or images that are in your mind, even if they don’t make sense or feel “dreamlike.” Many times, these thoughts or images were actually part of a larger dream that has lost its form during waking. Likewise, if you do happen to remember even one small part of a dream, or have the feeling “I think I maybe dreamed,” mark it down as a success! Many people feel like if they don’t remember an entire epic dream, it’s not worth writing down or remembering. Even one image can give us lots of information to work with.
Step 4: Keep encouraging the images, and don’t get frustrated. It can take time for the dream images to feel comfortable showing up regularly, but with steady encouragement they will. Continuing to ask them to visit during a bedtime ritual and a morning journaling/contemplation time. Even if you feel like it’s not working, keep at it and don’t let frustration get to you. Just like seeds in the ground in Spring, there can be a lot going on under the surface that can’t necessarily be seen just yet.
Step 5: As the images begin to come more often and stay longer in the memory, try to take at least 5 minutes in the morning to write down what visited in the dream time. Continue to be patient as you develop a relationship with the images. Just like friendships, they take time to develop but are richly rewarding when a connection is made.
Herlin B, Leu-Semenescu S, Chaumereuil C, & Arnulf I (2015). Evidence that non-dreamers do dream: a REM sleep behaviour disorder model. Journal of sleep research PMID: 26307463