How to Remember Your Dreams
Many people believe they don’t dream when in fact it’s much more likely that they simply forget them. Within seconds of waking up, our dreams evaporate from our consciousness. Here are a few tips to grasp onto those insightful memories before they are lost.
- Keep a notebook or recording device by your bed. The moment you wake up, immediately record a quick overview of your dream followed by a detailed description.
- Before you are able to get your dreams detailed out, don’t let any thoughts of the upcoming day crowd them out. By all means, don’t look at your phone. Even a few seconds of allowing the thoughts of your work day, for example, to encroach into your consciousness, can be enough to erase all recollection of your recent dreams.
- Spend your efforts pinpointing dreams that occur during REM sleep. The average dreamer will experience several REM periods during a night of sleep, increasing in duration as the night progresses. The majority of dreams occur during REM sleep, and additionally, REM sleep dreams are understood to typically be longer and more lucid, with dreamers able to recount more details of these particular dreams.[i] Unfortunately this is the difficult part. We naturally wake up more often during non-REM sleep, so when we are awoken during REM sleep by an alarm or nightmare, we often feel groggy, even grumpy, and usually not in the mood to take notes. A good inventory of dreams comes at the price of battling this temptation to hit snooze. The most determined of dream analysts will sometimes even set two to three alarms throughout the night in an attempt to capture these fleeting dreams when they are more likely to occur.
- The final step is patience. Even after nine years of practice of recording my dreams, I am still only able to capture one REM stage dream a week on average, but with time and a little willpower, you will see your dream log grow.
[i] J. Alan Hobson, Edward F. Pace-Scott, & Robert Stickgold (2000), “Dreaming and the brain: Toward a cognitive neuroscience of conscious states”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23.