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Dream Journaling 101: How to Start and Why It’s Beneficial

Have you ever woken up from an incredibly vivid dream and wished you could remember it in more detail? Or have you ever wondered what those night-time adventures might be trying to tell you? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then dream journaling might be your next big thing! 

Personally, it seems like every time I’m going through a lot of life change or feeling unsatisfied with something, my dreams kick into overdrive. It’s like my own personal therapy process – as long as I’m willing to put in the time afterwards to figure out what the heck it all meant! Dream journaling has been really helpful for this, and re-reading old entries can instantly transport me back to those dreams as if they were real-life memories. Weird, right?

In this post, we’ll delve into what dream journaling is, how to get started, and why it can be beneficial for you. And, of course, we’ll provide some prompts to guide you on your dream journaling journey. So, are you ready to explore the realm of your dreams? Let’s dive in!

What is Dream Journaling?

Dream journaling is pretty much what it sounds like – keeping a journal of your dreams. It’s a practice where you record your dreams as soon as you wake up, capturing as many details as possible. It’s not just about the narrative of the dream, but also about your feelings, the colors, the people, the sensations – everything you can remember. 

This doesn’t have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. Sometimes just jotting down a few notes on the main events or themes from a dream will be enough to help you recollect the rest of the details later.

People have been analyzing and interpreting their dreams for as long as people have been dreaming – that is to say, always! Whether you like to attribute any sort of cosmic significance to your dreams is up to you. No matter what you feel like they represent or where they come from, journaling is a great habit to build to help you get more in tune with your sleeping self.

How to Start a Dream Journal

1. Choose Your Journal

First things first, pick a journal that you like. It should be something that inspires you to write in it every day. A simple notebook works perfectly fine, but if you prefer something digital, there are plenty of dream journaling apps out there.

2. Keep Your Journal Handy

Your dream journal should be within arm’s reach when you wake up. This is because our dream memories fade extremely quickly, often within a few minutes of waking up. So, you want to capture those details as soon as you can.

3. Write Down Your Dreams ASAP

As soon as you wake up, jot down everything you can remember about your dream. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or making it sound perfect. Just focus on capturing as much detail as you can.

4. Describe the Dream in Present Tense

Writing in the present tense can help you relive the dream and remember more details. For example, instead of writing, “I was at a beach,” write, “I am at a beach.”

5. Don’t Ignore the Weird Stuff

Dreams can be strange, bizarre, even surreal. Don’t censor or ignore the weird stuff; write it all down. Often, these unusual elements can be the most revealing.

6. Review Your Dream Journal Regularly

Once you’ve been keeping your dream journal for a while, take time to review it. Look for patterns or recurring themes. You might be surprised at what you discover!

Benefits of Dream Journaling

1. Improved Dream Recall

The more you journal your dreams, the better you’ll become at remembering them. This is all about building a habit, and once your brain is trained to hang on to those images and experiences a little tighter upon waking, you’ll start to see them less as foggy mysteries and more as weird memory-like experiences.

2. Enhanced Self-Awareness

Dreams can offer insights into our subconscious thoughts and feelings. Journaling can help you decode these messages and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Sometimes you can even solve problems or come up with new interpretations of real-life situations through your dreams.

3. Boosted Creativity

Dreams are a wellspring of creative ideas. Many writers, artists, and inventors have found inspiration in their dreams. If you’re looking for a story idea or a scene for your next great painting, then consider that a snooze might actually be a productive idea!

4. Better Problem-Solving Skills

Dreams often involve complex narratives and unusual combinations of elements. Analyzing these can help enhance your problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

5. Emotional Processing

Dreams can help us process emotions, particularly those we might not be fully aware of in our waking lives. Journaling these dreams can aid in emotional healing and growth.

woman journaling in bed
Photo by Miriam Alonso on

Dream Journaling Prompts

Ready to embark on your dream journaling journey? Here are a few prompts to help you get started:

1. What was the main emotion you felt during the dream?

2. Who were the key characters in your dream, and how did they relate to you?

3. Describe the setting of your dream. Was it a real place you’ve been to, or somewhere imaginary?

4. Were there any recurring symbols or themes in your dream? 

5. Did your dream remind you of any past experiences or current events in your life?

6. If you could change the outcome of your dream, what would it be and why?

7. Write a letter to a character from your dream. What would you want to say to them?

8. What senses were most prominent in your dream? Sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste?

9. If your dream was a movie, what would its title be?

10. Write a continuation of your dream. Where would the story go if it hadn’t ended?

You don’t have to answer all of these questions for every dream you have. However, it can be useful to run through this list and framework if you have a particularly puzzling dream or one that seems too full of detail and significance to ignore.

Dream journaling is a fascinating journey into the depths of your subconscious. It can offer profound insights into your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, while also boosting your creativity and problem-solving skills. Plus, it’s an exciting way to explore the mysterious world of dreams.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to keep a dream journal. It’s a personal and subjective practice. What’s important is to be consistent, open-minded, and curious. So, why not give it a try? You might be surprised at what you discover!

Happy dreaming and journaling, folks! Until next time, sleep well and dream on!

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