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Remembering Dreams

Updated on October 2, 2022
Sue B. profile image

Sue writes about dreams, real estate, mental health, human resources, and parenting.

Our inner dreamscapes allow us to take a walk through our minds.
Our inner dreamscapes allow us to take a walk through our minds. | Source

Why it is Important To Remember Dreams

It is important to remember our dreams. Our dreams reveal to us our inner workings, a side of us we are often too busy to give attention to during the day. By paying attention to our dreams and engaging in dream work, we may find we have a more balanced life and we are able to solve everyday problems more quickly. Dreams allow us to understand what has been repressed or ignored that demands our attention.

Dreams allow us to explore our emotions, thoughts, unconscious influences, and filter through all of our experiences. They allow us to organize our thoughts and feelings so we approach life in a more adaptive way.

Recalling dreams allows us to further engage in dream work by rationally viewing our dreams and understanding what is not addressed that we may need to make a priority.

It is often the dreams that jolt us into remembering (or even awakening) that are the most important to remember and resolve. By resolving these type of dreams, we are resolving something that we have not attended to but need to. It is within our nightmares and our most troubling or annoying dreams that we are able to recognize what is troubling us the most so that we are able to seek a new approach and move on towards success instead of allowing ourselves to be stuck on one issue.

How to Recall Dreams

There is no magic trick involved when learning how to remember dreams. There is no one silver bullet for remembering dreams either. Dream recall is achieved by making it a part of routine. It requires practice, practice and more practice. There are some activities we can do to encourage dreams. Remembering our dreams involves an effort to recall the dream and commit it to memory.

If you don't want to put in the effort but still want to explore your unconscious, try the Rorschach inkblot test.

Avoid Alcohol and Mind-altering Substances

Although many claim that alcohol or drugs give them more vivid dreams, these dreams are disjointed, confusing and lend little to dream work. These dreams are a reflection of the substance more than the dreamer.

Alcohol may encourage sleep but it is a light sleep. You typically do not feel rested after this type of sleep. You launch into REM sleep in a superficial way. Recalling these types of dreams is often confusing and misleading for the dreamer.

Get Plenty of Rest

Dreaming can be physically taxing. We require deep sleep. Active dreaming and active dream recall can fatigue someone leaving them with many dreams but not much energy throughout the day. If this is an ongoing trend, dreams will begin to reflect this fatigue and will not help the dreamer gain much insight.

If you are fatigued, stressed, overworked, and/or sleep deprived, your body will not have the resources or the time to allow you to remember dreams. Recall takes energy.

If you have trouble sleeping. Attempt the following:

  1. Go to sleep at the same time each night and schedule 8 hours of sleep (yes 8!)
  2. Do not eat 2 hours before bed. If you have to consume food or beverages select the most light options- fruit, herbal tea, water, etc.
  3. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants 6-8 hours before bed or longer if you have found you are sensitive to substances.
  4. Expose yourself to natural light as much as possible during the day-- remove sunglasses!
  5. Instead of watching TV, listen to music in a dark room.
  6. Set the stage for sleep. It is better to have a slightly cool room than a warm room. Throw on some covers if you are cold and allow your head to cool off. Keep noises down. Keep the room dark. Make sure your bed is comfy and cozy. Your bedroom should feel like a sleep encouraging oasis.
  7. Do things before bed that relax you- a warm bath, listening to soft music, reading a book under a very soft light, do some light yoga, or participate in light arts & crafts or puzzles

Write Down your Dreams Each Night

Sleep with a pen or pencil and a note pad by your bed in a convenient spot. It is important to have access to this as soon as you awake without getting out of bed. Ensure you are able to get enough light without walking around as well.

Recalling dreams is a process that requires a lot of practice. Dreams have a function for us. It is healthy to process the information of the day, forget it and move on. It is often the dreams that we remember or stand out to us that trigger a realization that we are not addressing something.

If you set up a routine and are waking up the same time each day, you may find you are recalling dreams upon wakening. Many people experience a transient dream recall in the first few minutes of being awake. Their dreams then evaporate soon after leaving them with a sense of remembering a dream but not being able to actually recall any details. It is during the first few minutes of being awake that it is most important to attempt to write down your dreams and any impressions you may have before these images become fuzzy for you.

It is important to write down ANY impressions you may have. If you can't remember the dream, attempt to recall a color, a feeling, an image, etc. and write it down. If you continue to practice this, you will begin to remember more and more content of your dreams.

Still not recalling much of your dreams? Attempt to take naps in 5, 10, 20, 30 minute intervals as an experiment (use an alarm clock) and write down any impressions you may have after. You will discover your own personal dreaming rhythm.

Recall within Reason

Remember that everyone has 5-8 dreams a night and that dream recall is exhausting. We simply cannot expect to have the stamina to face our waking lives each day and recall all dreams. You will likely only recall your last dream if at all. Recalling dreams each night can be exhausting. Once you practice dream recall for a few months, you may find that it is most beneficial for you to attempt to recall dreams ever other night or every two nights if your dream recall has reached an impressive level. It is common for people to recall pages of dreams after practicing dream recall techniques daily.

What do you tend to recall from your dreams after waking up in the morning?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Sue B.


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