Why should you start Dream Journaling?
Awareness Education

Why should you start Dream Journaling?


Have you ever tried recording your dreams or keeping a dream journal? Have you ever wondered if your dreams mean something more? Maybe a message, advice, or a prophecy? Well, there is growing interest among people in maintaining a dream journal, and for good reasons!

Read More: The Connection of Journaling with Mental Health

Benefits of keeping a dream journal

  1. Processing emotions: Renowned scientist and researcher, Matthew Walker (2017) writes “Dreaming is like overnight therapy”. In his study, it was observed that REM-sleep dreaming appears to remove pain from difficult, traumatic, emotional episodes of waking hours. This offers an emotional resolution when we wake up the next day. This state of being anxiety-free reactivates key structures in the brain related to memory and emotions, allowing us to re-process upsetting memories in a safer, calmer environment.
  2. Tap into creativity: Various artists, authors, and songwriters attribute their creative works as inspired by their dreams. Research shows that a high dream recall frequency is associated with increased creative potential (Vallat et al, 2022). This is because, in REM sleep, memories are not merely activated but are fused and blended in abstract and novel ways. Recalling such novel ways to approach memories can help produce creative works.
  3. Helps solve problems: Besides artists, scientists have also benefitted from recalling their dreams. For instance, August Kekulé, in his waking hours, was working to find the arrangement of atoms in benzene, but in vain. On a cold night in 1865, unable to find the solution, he dozed off by the fire. Moments later, he dreamed of dancing atoms arranging themselves into the shape of a snake biting its tail. On waking, he realized that this imagery held an answer to his problem: Molecules of benzene consist of carbon atoms arranged in rings. Have you experienced a similar dream that provided you with the answer for a problem you have been experiencing in your waking life?
  4. Increasing personal insight: An article in Psychology Today enlisted the benefits of long-term dream journaling. Keeping a dream journal helps cultivate sustained, focused self-reflection, and an ability to overthrow one’s ego and listen to their intuition, or their inner voice. It facilitates a more honest awareness of your greatest challenges, conflicts, and vulnerabilities (Bulkeley, 2023).
  5. Linking with situations in the waking hours: Clarrisa Pinkola Estés, in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves, highlighted the potential of dreams to provide us with guidance for our waking lives. It can help not just record but also identify recurrent patterns and keep track of them. Identifying specific patterns in dreams (like the animal groom archetype, for example) can suggest that the dreamer has to make changes in their lives. Such symbolism can appear as a wake-up call, or a sign to take action in one’s waking life.
  6. Improved dream recall: We dream a lot more than we realize. However, it is said that 5 minutes after the end of the dream, we have forgotten 50% of its content. 10 minutes later, we would have forgotten 90% of it. Maintaining a journal can help you remember dreams for longer, as you have the intention to record them almost immediately after waking up. Further, recording your dreams at the same time and place every day can provide environmental cues for better recall. If you have recorded your dream from the previous night that had an epic idea for your next novel, you can simply go back to your journal and take inspiration from that!
  7. Increased likelihood of lucid dreaming: Lucid dreaming is a state in which you know you are dreaming, while you’re still in the dream. This awareness provides you with some control over the narratives and circumstances of your dreams. Maintaining a journal can help increase not just your dream recall frequency, but also increase lucid dreaming frequency, if coupled with other lucid dreaming induction techniques (Tan & Fan, 2022).

Therapies using dream analysis

“The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind”, stated Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. In 1900, Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, which posits dream interpretation as a therapeutic technique in psychoanalysis. Although its analysis is extensively used in psychoanalysis and other psychodynamic schools, it is also used in other therapeutic schools such as Gestalt therapy, client-centred therapy, family therapy, group therapy, psychodrama, and cognitive-behavioural therapy (Schredl et al, 2000).

Read More: Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis

Now, you might have a question after reading all the names of therapies – Do I have to go to therapy to interpret my dreams?

  • Not necessarily! But going to therapy would help. Nevertheless, here are some tips for starting a dream journal.
  • First and foremost, you need a journal. It could be anything that helps you record your dream. Now, put that next to your bed for easy access. Bonus points for a cosy, comfortable space!
  • Set an intention before you sleep. You can simply repeat the statement, “Tonight, I am going to remember my dreams”. This affirmation can help in setting intentions, thereby improving dream recall.
  • Journal first thing in the morning, immediately after you wake up. If you don’t remember your dream, give yourself some time and assess how you feel. This might trigger a memory of your dream.
  • Make note of all the unique images, symbols, sounds, and songs you can remember from the dream. Pay close attention to your actions and emotions.
  • Start interpreting using knowledge from various resources that you could get your hands on.
  • If possible, journal when you wake up in the middle of the night remembering a dream.
  • Experiment with various journalling styles, and lucid dreaming techniques
  • Get adequate sleep every night.

In conclusion, dream journalling can be pursued as a practice of growth and introspection with long-term psychological and spiritual benefits. Nevertheless, more research is needed to support the benefits of this practice.

Read More: Deja Vu in Dreams: the Feeling of Reliving Past Experiences

Read More: What Is Dream Interpretation, And How to Know Our Inner Self?

  • https://www.bettersleep.com/blog/dream-journal/
  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/dreaming-in-the-digital-age/202303/dream-journaling-as-a-contemplative-practice
  • https://www.famousscientists.org/7-great-examples-of-scientific-discoveries-made-in-dreams/
  • https://www.insider.com/guides/health/mental-health/dream-journal
  • https://thecreativeindependent.com/guides/how-to-start-and-keep-a-dream-journal/
  • https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/dream4.htm
  • https://www.sleepfoundation.org/dreams/dream-journal
  • https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13786
  • https://doi.org/10.2147/nss.s342137
  • https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_your_brain_needs_to_dream

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