Suggestions for Remembering and Recording Your Dreams
(Adapted from the International Association for Study of Dreams website)


Young Girl on a Mountain Path, Nepal
Photo by Shanee Stepakoff, 1987
All rights reserved

What method should I use to record my dreams?
Some people use pads of paper, some use bound dream journals, some use spiral notebooks, and some use composition books. The important thing is that you feel comfortable with the kind of paper you’re using and that it is in a format that shows a sense of respect and appreciation for the value of dreams. It is preferable, thus, not to use random scraps of paper or to write your dreams on the back of other documents such as receipts or calendars. Have at least two pens available, so that if you run out of ink, you can continue with your spare pen. If you’re artistically inclined, you might want to use colored pencils or markers and unlined paper so that you can sketch the images from your dreams. Some people prefer to use a tape-recorder or to type their dreams onto a computer, tablet, or phone. Whatever method you use, it’s important that it be readily accessible at your bedside, as many people forget their dreams as soon as they rise.

How can I strengthen my ability to remember my dreams?
Before you fall asleep, remind yourself that you want to remember your dreams. Keep your paper and pens by your bedside, in a location that you can easily reach from your bed. As you awaken, try to move as little as possible and try not to think right away about your upcoming day. Write down the entire dream, as it tends to fade quickly if not recorded. Any distractions will cause the memory of your dream to fade. If you share your bed or bedroom with another person, inform them in advance that you are trying to remember your dreams, and that therefore, if they notice that you’re writing in your journal soon after awakening, they should not disturb or interrupt you. If upon awakening you can’t remember a full dream, record whatever dream images or fragments you can remember. Sometimes, the process of recording a few initial images or fragments stimulates additional memories, and leads to your being able to recall the rest of the dream. One method that can substantially improve dream recall is to train yourself to write your dreams with your eyes closed. Many people forget their dreams as soon as they open their eyes. It is possible to learn how to sense the location of the edge of your hand as it moves along the paper, in such a manner that you can write down even very lengthy dreams without ever opening your eyes. Also, many people find it helpful to write the dream in the present tense, rather than the past tense. Using the present tense allows you to experientially reenter the dream world, and thus may help you to capture some of the more subtle details that might otherwise be forgotten. When the ancient Greeks wanted to remember a dream they often slept at special temples that were dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing. Although you might not have the opportunity to sleep in an ancient temple, your ability to remember your dreams may increase when you sleep in a place that feels special or sacred.

How can I deepen the benefit I gain from paying attention to my dreams?
If you’ve entered your dream onto a computer, print it out and place it in a folder or binder. Although valuable – sometimes even life-changing – insights can be gained from even one dream, in most instances a more valuable way of working with dreams is to consider long-term patterns.  Looking at a series of dreams allows you to learn from repetitions as well as transformations in the themes, images, and feelings that are present in your dreams over months or years. This practice is known as “long term dream journaling.” Store your dream journals in a safe, special place. Some people find it helpful to give form to the dream in other ways besides the written word. Painting, drawing, sculpture, dance, music, drama – there are many ways to honor the dream. And very often, when you show respect and reverence for the dream, the “Dream-Maker” will reciprocate by providing you with additional, and often deeper, dreams.