I love to dream at night. It is like my own little movie no one else can watch. When I was younger I used to dream in serials, meaning the next night the dream would pick up where it left off. I seldom have bad dreams but when I do they are usually intense, involve not being able to find my husband or our pets, or I am being chased by something, usually a guy similar to Jason (the lasting effects of a mother who let me watch horror movies as a child).
My husband on the other hand will tell you he does not dream or at least remember dreaming. I think they are so good he does not want to share. Actually, it is because he sleeps better. If you remember more than one dream a night chances are you awoke more than once during the night and the dreams you remember were interrupted.
Dreams are an interesting look into our minds. While we can direct ourselves if we are lucid dreamers we really have no control over what happens. Our unconscious mind has its own plans for the night. Dreams allow our daytime mind to regenerate, solve problems, cool off or heat up. We may not think much is going on during that time but it is brain activity for 5 to 8 hours of our lives, that is a lot of time not to be important. So it bears looking further upon.
Delve into Your Mind
Dream journals are an excellent way to see what our mind is doing at night. They gives us a look into our unconscious and creative network. Keeping a journal is also a way to analyze bad, recurring dreams to see if there are any underlying themes warranting our attention. They also make good fodder for story ideas.
If you want to keep a dream journal there are some important things to keep in mind to make the journey pleasant and encourage consistency. If it is too hard you probably are not going to follow through. Keep it simple to your personality type. In the beginning you might want just get yourself in the habit of writing a few notes on the previous night’s dreams. Once you have established a routine you can then delve into the kinds of dreams and content your mind is producing.
You have probably heard it before but eight hours of sleep a night is really required for your body and mind to regenerate. So is having a regular schedule. What I mean by that is going to bed and getting up the same time every day, even on weekends. Your body becomes so accustomed to this type of scheduling you will find yourself waking up a few minutes before your alarm. Waking up naturally like this is helpful when remembering your dreams rather than being startled awake by the drone of your alarm or AC-DC on the radio.
When you do wake up, do not fly out of bed. Lie there a minute and think about your night. Do you remember waking up during the night? Reflect briefly on any dreams you remember. Once you start moving around your mind takes over and pushes non-consequential information out so you end up forgetting many, most, or all of your dreams. Now is the time to grab your bedside dream journal (I keep one on my bedside table and another in the bathroom).
You need less than five minutes to write down what you remember. If you do not have time for a complete entry jot down some notes in point form that you can use for recollection later.
Feelings are Important
As you become more involved in your dream journal be sure to include how you felt in the dream and how you feel about writing it. You can separate these into categories or jumble it all together as you write so as not to disrupt the flow. If you take the time to write at least one dream a night you should feel good, but write about as many as you want. Myself I tend to journal when I wake up with a bothersome or interesting dream. Sometimes during or after my shower another dream will come to mind (hence the bathroom journal I mentioned earlier). You decide how often you want to write about your dreams. Regardless of how much time you spend you will benefit from a deep understanding of what really goes on under the sheets.
Sample Dream Journal Formats
Date: (Date of dream.)
Time: (When you’re journaling.)
The Dream: (Describe dream from beginning to end.)
Feelings In: (How did you feel while you were dreaming?)
Feelings Out: (How do you feel about the dream or what happened in the dream?)
What Happened Yesterday: (Describe briefly your day and events.)
On the Mind: (What have you been brooding about or anticipating the last few days?)
Symbols: (What items stood out the most for you?)