How to Remember Your Dreams

People who confidently say they “don’t dream” are wrong — they just don’t remember them. Everyone dreams because everyone experiences REM cycles. And if you don’t remember your dreams, you’re missing out.

You spend a third of your life asleep, and about 25% of that time dreaming. That’s over 700 hours a year that we spend dreaming, often remembering just tiny slivers.

Isn’t it worth knowing what your brain’s up to every night? What kind of movie you starred in, what problem your brain’s trying to work out subconsciously, what foreign lands you visited, who you saw. We know the value of being present in our waking lives, so why shouldn’t we be present to the lives we live when asleep?

So where do you start?

Set the Intention to Remember

You may feel hopeless when beginning, especially if you’re the type to never (or almost never) remember your dreams, but I promise, setting the intention to remember makes a difference.

After you’ve closed your eyes, as you’re drifting off to sleep imagine yourself waking up and remembering your dreams. Have a little mantra, something as simple as “I’ll remember my dreams.” Keep at it, even if you remember nothing a few days in a row.

Write Down Anything You Remember

You probably won’t remember many details at first. You’re not used to having to. Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes all you’ll be able to remember is a feeling, and that’s good enough. A single word will do — scared, excited, happy.

Add more detail as you remember it, e.g. “Work. I was annoyed.” You’ll be amazed at how much more detailed your recollections become with practice.

A word about feelings and dreams. I think dreams are always about what they make you feel like. Take a dream where you’re flying an airplane. A dream where you’re flying a plane and feel like you’re on top of the world means something very different than a dream where you’re flying an airplane and you’re terrified it’s going to crash.

Write Your Dreams Down

Keep a dedicated dream journal bedside with a pen you enjoy using that works reliably. Write down anything that comes to you. You can start with an outline of some larger points. Sometimes you’ll only remember disjointed things that you’ll later remember were actually part of one dream. You can go in order if you’re able. I think the act of writing it down helps draw it from you, but some people have better luck with a voice recording app or notes app on their phone.

Stay Still

Once you start moving around for the day, it seems to jostle the memories of the dreams.

Try to stay still while you recall and record the dreams.

Give Yourself the Time

At first you’re only going to be writing a few sentences, but eventually you’ll rememberĀ allĀ your dreams in such detail that you’ll easily fill a few pages. For the sake of time management, using a notes app with voice-to-text might be helpful.

If you do all the above, eventually you’ll remember all your dreams in rich detail and you’ll know your innermost self more closely.