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5 benefits of owning a dream journal and 5 ways to get started

All your dreams can help you learn much more about yourself. Yes, even the ones you can’t explain…even the weirdest of the weird ones (thanks, Sandman).  

@itssassagurlLahat ng panaginip may meaning:♬ original sound – Sassa Gurl

Dream journaling is a great way to know yourself better. Recording and analyzing your dreams is a valuable tool in life. While a lot of people may claim to be self-aware, there are some parts of yourself that you can only come to discover or learn more about once you dive into the subconscious musings of your brain while you sleep

Generally, dreams may be seen as continuations of our waking life. The content of our dreams may sometimes feel unfamiliar but are most likely drawn from things we have encountered in our reality. The way we behave and respond to our dreams may also be based on how we would respond and feel if these things occurred in waking life.   

According to the highly studied Continuity Hypothesis of Dreaming model, what we dream about contains psychological meaning to us. Dreams are reflections of a dreamer’s existing thoughts, fears, and values. 

Because of how meaningful dreams can be, dream journaling encourages us to maintain a daily record of your dreams from the night before while the memory of your dream is still fresh in your mind. Dream journaling is not limited to pen and paper. There are many mediums to utilize: you can use the notes app on your phone, download one of the many dream journal apps, voice record your dreams, or even draw out scenes/emotions that you can recall. 

Some people even opt to include a summary of how their day went to see how their daily experiences affect what they see in their dreams at night, and vice versa. 

You don’t even need to analyze your dreams. You can just write down what you remember and stop there for some fun stories for you to look back on in the future. 

More than just a record of the creative ways that your brain can mix and match anything and everything that’s on your mind, dream journaling has a lot of other benefits as well. Here are a few of many benefits you may experience once you start up a dream journal. 

Improve dream recall 

If you’re someone who is skeptical of dream journaling because you “never remember” your dreams or because you may not dream at all, well then just getting started will help you fix that! 

Starting a dream journal, prompts your brain to do its best to remember your dream the following morning. Writing your dreams down, no matter how much or little you remember, is almost like an exercise for your brain. You begin to work out these parts of your brain and after some time you’ll notice that you’ve started to remember more of your dreams than you used to. 

Strengthening your dream recall will also help you notice any patterns in the dreams you’re having. Singling out these patterns may also lead you to the root cause of these dreams. They may have been influenced by the same thing that’s been on your mind in the waking world, whether you immediately realize it or not. 

Reduce stress

Adding dream journaling to your morning routine may provoke a calming effect. Promote a slow rise from bed and recenter yourself before you face the stresses of the day. Set the tone of your day by starting it off with a contemplative and relaxing mood. Acknowledge what you dreamt of the night before and how you are now feeling. Be kind to yourself throughout the day, knowing where your headspace is at.  

Expand creativity and manage creative blocks with ease

The next time you have a creative block, all you have to do is check out your collection of mind boggling, world bending, content. The authors of an MIT article entitled Sleep-Induced Changes in Associative Memory believe that “Dream recall can enhance our own unique brand of creative thinking, because when we’re dreaming, we all think more creatively.” 

In our dreams, we aren’t bound by the usual logical thinking of everyday life. While there may be some portions of our dream that we can control, other things are created involuntarily and may not always mimic reality. There is nothing restraining your subconscious from making all kinds of worlds, scenarios, and characters in your dreams. Your mind and body are not bound by the standards of reality, and this may lead to some incredibly freeing (and sometimes terrifying) results. 

Sometimes you might have brilliant moments of inspiration before dozing off to sleep. Don’t let these moments slip away! Remember and write these down. Who knows, you might be the next Mary Shelley creating Frankenstein’s monster because of a dream she had during a nap.  

Become an innovative problem solver 

Developing your creativity may help you when facing future problems. Recognizing your behavior in dreams and various problem-solving solutions you utilize when reality is more “flexible” in dreams, can help you when dealing with problems when you’re awake too. Recording your dreams can inspire a new way of looking at a problem and more creative ways of approaching and solving these. 

Dreams can also serve as practice tests for certain scenarios. Dreams aren’t always sweet and wholesome, nightmares exist too. Whether you are dreaming of taking a test you didn’t prepare for or running away from a paranormal villain, these nightmares can help you analyze and adapt your responses to stressful situations. Reliving these stressful scenarios when you are calm and writing them down, removed from the stress of the situation, allows you to look at things from a more detached perspective. This gives you the chance to rationally turn things over and find new and/or multiple ways of tackling a situation if it were to ever happen again or in your daily life. Now you’re equipped for the next time a ghost tries chasing you or you give a presentation you aren’t prepared for and aren’t wearing pants for. 

Face yourself

This may not come off as a benefit for some people, but dreams sometimes force you to confront problems that you’d rather avoid. While you’re asleep, your brain is able to take the time to sort through some things in your brain whether or not you want them to be sorted through. 

Most, if not all, dreams evoke an emotional response from us. Maybe you dreamt of someone you’ve been trying so hard to forget. Or maybe you dreamt of a scenario you’ve been dreading. Your dreams might bring to light something you’ve been avoiding or maybe even make you discover something about yourself that you didn’t already know yet. 

Recording dreams the next day, similar to how it helps you deal with problems, kind of forces you to acknowledge and process what happened and how these things made you feel—both what happened in your dream and what might have happened in your daily life that could have inspired these dreams. Acknowledgement is the first step to being able to address something and possibly changing what you can for the better. 

According to researcher Siamak Khodarahimi’s study Dreams In Jungian Psychology, analyzing Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory on dreams, “dreams are driven by a natural tendency to bring resolution and closure to unfinished emotional and mental problems of the day.” 

Now that you’ve seen how fun and even practical keeping a dream journal may be, here are a few tips to get you started on your own dream journal journey! Though, it may be important to remember that the process of remembering dreams and developing better dream recall varies per person so there isn’t just one blanket way to get increasingly better at this, patience is key! 

Set the intention before sleeping

Before going to bed, purposefully declare that you will remember your dream the next day. Just sleeping with this thought in mind may help you out when you first start your dream journal. The longer you keep your journal, the more this will become a reinforced habit that will help you automatically remember more of your dreams. 

Keep dream journal and pen/pencil close

Keep whatever mediums you use to record your dreams as close to where you sleep as possible. If you write down your dreams, make sure that your pen has ink or that your pencil is sharpened/has lead in it. Fumbling around for your notebook, getting a pen that has ink, or sharpening your pencil will create a longer gap of time between your dreaming and waking—possibly making some details of your dream begin to slip away from your memory. 

Write ASAP (in present tense)

About 95% of our dreams disappear from our minds by the time you get up from bed. This is why it is essential to have your dream journal materials prepped and ready to go as soon as you wake up and everything is still fresh in your mind. 

Write anything and everything that you can remember. Note down even the tiniest detail or the most side of side characters in your dream. Note down what you can even if they don’t seem to make sense to you anymore now that you’re awake. This may be difficult at first, but it will get easier with time as you get used to this new routine and your dream recall improves. More than just writing what you saw and did, try to also note how these things made you feel. If you remember random fragments throughout the day, make sure to add these to your journal as well.   

Try not to focus too much on word choice and sentence structure, though, writing in present tense may help jog your memory even further. It may help evoke your memory to phrase things as if they are currently happening to you. You don’t need to pay attention to grammar, punctuation, or spelling, just get all those thoughts out and on record. Feel free to even write in bullet points if this is easier for you. The main point is to record everything ASAP.



Other POP! stories you might like:

Netflix’s The Sandman was a fantastic dream come true (yes, spoilers)

If dogs can dream, what do they dream about?

Little Miss Mary Sue: The origin story and its weaponization

After 44 years, the most revered horror franchise in film history reaches its epic conclusion in ‘Halloween Ends’

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