The most common advice you’ll come across about how to remember your dreams is to keep a note book and pen beside your bed and write down anything you recall as soon as you wake up. This advice is spot-on, but here are a few extra ideas I would suggest:
- Use a voice recorder – I used to find writing dreams down took too long and woke me up too quickly, which would sometimes mean I forgot earlier dreams in the process of writing. I changed to using the voice recorder on my phone which was a lot quicker and let me stay in a slightly sleepy state (sometimes the recordings were pretty garbled though). Experiment with what works best. If you are writing it down, you could also draw pictures if that helps.
- Record details like who was in the dream, the story line, the location, emotions, conflicts, etc.
- Even if you don’t remember much from your dream, write it down (or record, whichever you are doing). Over time you will remember more and more (and by ‘over time’ you should see improvements over the space of a couple of weeks).
- If you don’t remember anything from your dream just write down the mood you are in when you wake up, or if there is a song in your head or a particular feeling in your body. These are all dreamlike experiences and can be worked with like dreams. Writing/recording the experience will help you remember dream fragments.
- Write or record your day dreams. You know the places your brain goes when you’re driving, or “off with the fairies”. These are dream-like experiences and be worked with like dreams, plus developing the habit of paying attention to these experiences can help you remember night-time dreams. Of course don’t record these while you are actually driving.
If you get nowhere with these tips (and you’re not sleep deprived) try this: create a gentle alarm to wake you six hours after you go to sleep. This will wake you after four sleep cycles (typically 90 mins long) and after four lots of dreams. The reason we don’t remember dreams is that we don’t gather memories in our sleep, so we have to wake up very soon after a dream (or even mid-dream) if we hope to recall it.
Most adults should be getting 8-9 hours sleep a night, so don’t do this for an extended period – even one hour of sleep deprivation has huge impact on well being and cognitive abilities. You could also add in a daytime nap to make up for the lost time if your routine allows it.
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