Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Remember Your Dreams


How to Remember Dreams

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit


Theories abound as to why we dream, how we dream, and what meaning we can assign to our dreams. Many people believe that dreams can provide insights into our lives and feelings, but for most of us, it's notoriously difficult to remember our dreams. With conscious effort, however, you can remember more of your dreams and recall them in greater detail.

Steps

  1. Make a conscious decision to remember your dreams. You’ve got a better chance of remembering your dreams if you really want to remember them. Assuming you do want to, tell yourself that you’re going to remember your dreams and conscientiously follow the steps to make your desire to remember your dreams come true.[1]
  2. Put a pad and pen or pencil within easy reach of your bed. It’s best if it just has plain paper with no designs or other distractions. Use this pad only for recording your dreams. Before you go to sleep, make sure it is open to the next page on which you can write so you don’t have to search for a blank page when you wake up. Always put the pen in the same spot so that you don't have to search for that, either. An alternative to writing your dreams is to keep a tape recorder near your bed or under your pillow so that you can verbally recount what happened in your dream.
  3. Place your alarm clock close to your bed. When you wake up you want to be able to focus on remembering your dreams before you perform any other activities. If you can wake up without an alarm clock, you won’t have to worry about turning it off, but if you do need an alarm, make sure you can turn it off quickly and easily, preferably without even moving in bed. Don’t use a radio alarm clock, as the ads or chatter on the morning show will likely distract you from your task.
    • If possible, try using a gentler way of waking up. Wake up on your own, ask someone to wake you gently and without talking to you, or hook up a timer to the lights in your room. Many people find that they are able to better recall dreams if they don’t use an alarm clock.
  4. Place a post-it note on the alarm clock, with the words "What did you dream?" or similar in large letters, so that it's the first thing you see when you open your eyes (and turn the alarm clock off).
  5. Get to bed early enough to get adequate sleep on a consistent basis. If you wake up too tired to think, you’ll find it hard to recall your dreams. Too little sleep will also limit the number of dreams you have. People who sleep less than six hours have a hard time remembering dreams. [2]
  6. Think about a major problem or emotional concern right before you fall asleep (nothing that will spark too much of a negative feeling). Think deeply about the situation without pressing for solutions or coming to conclusions. Just thinking about the problem "opens the door", in a sense, to more vividly remembered dreams, and the dreams may even offer more insights regarding the problem at hand. [3]
  7. Concentrate on recalling your dream as soon as you wake up. Typically you can remember only the last dream you had before waking. Don’t move and don’t do anything. Stay in the same position as the one in which you awoke and try to remember as much about your dream as possible before you think about anything else.
    • Focus your gaze on the first object you see as you open your eyes. Look at the object; focus on it. That object will most often take the vague recollection of your dream to a place mark in memory where it is easier to recall details. A doorknob, a light bulb, or a nail in the wall, for example, will quell your urge to begin your day, and will help you to settle into memories of what you had experienced while sleeping.
  8. Record your dream in your dream journal. Jot down as much as possible about your dream, starting with a basic sketch that includes such things as the location of the dream, the basic plot, the characters, the overall emotion of the dream (i.e. were you scared or happy in the dream?), and any prominent images you can recall. If you can remember any dialogue, you may want to write it down first, as words in dreams are easily forgotten. Record everything you can, even if you can only remember one image. As you get the basics down, more of the dream may come to you.
    • If you can’t remember anything about your dream, write down the first thing that comes into your mind upon waking. It may be related to the dream in some way, and it might trigger recollections. Also write down how you’re feeling when you wake up. The emotions you experience in a dream typically remain, at least for a brief period, when you awake, so if you wake up anxious or elated, ask yourself why.
  9. Increase the number of dreams you can remember by writing in your dream journal every time you wake up throughout the night. You dream several times while you're sleeping, so if you only record the last dream you had before you get up in the morning, there are more dreams you might not be remembering. It’s always tempting to go right back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night, but take the opportunity to remember what you were dreaming before you do—in all likelihood you will not remember it in the morning.
    • Since you usually only remember the last dream you had, you can remember more dreams by waking up several times during the night. We go through a complete sleep cycle approximately every 90 minutes, so you may find it productive to set your alarm to wake you at some multiple of 90 minutes (such as 4.5, 6, or 7.5 hours) after you expect to go to sleep. Dreams in the later half of the night are typically longer than those you dream soon after going to sleep, so you probably want to wait until at least the 4.5 hour mark to intentionally wake yourself.
    • This is only recommended for people who get adequate sleep and who can fall back asleep easily. Otherwise, skip this step.
  10. Keep a notepad or voice recorder with you throughout the day. Often something you see or hear later in the day will trigger a memory of a dream from the night before. Note these recollections without delay, and think about them to see if you can remember how they fit into the rest of the dream.

Tips

  • Keep a table lamp on your nightstand. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll need to turn on a light in order to record your dreams in your dream journal. As with the alarm clock, you want to be able to reach your lamp with as little movement as possible.
  • As an alternative, you can also use a small flashlight solely for recording dreams at night. Cover the lens with three layers of masking tape so you can still easily see your journal at night, but it's not so bright that it makes you want to close your eyes.
  • Better yet, don't use any light at all, as it can make it harder to remember your dreams. Just have your pen and paper where you can reach them easily, and you won't even have to open your eyes (be careful not to fall back asleep though). With practice you'll get better at writing without seeing the paper.
  • Some people keep a small voice recorder by the bed and talk into it instead of writing down the dream. It's easier to remember when you're only half-awake!
  • If you have the same dream the next day, or next week, jot that down also. A dream that repeats itself is a dream upon which we should all concentrate. It might have a special meaning.
  • When recording dreams, remember that the recording is personal. Don't write it to make sense for others because you may find yourself altering things to make it easier for outsiders to understand. Always write what you believe to be true, not what would make sense.
  • Record exactly what happened without necessarily trying to make sense of it yourself, either. For example, if your dream starts inside a house and you then find yourself in a forest, avoid the temptation to assume you walked out of the house. Dreams that are foreign to everyday experience could be lost by trying to apply waking logic to the events.
  • When recording the dream, it may be easier to remember if you write (or speak) it in present tense (i.e. "I am going to" instead of "I went to").
  • Some songs actually make the dream stick in your head for a little while longer. Try listening to some music before you hit the hay, and see what happens!
  • If you have a computer or mobile device nearby, try logging onto a dream publishing website like Uprophecy or Dream Moods that you can use to log your dreams and keep a record of them.
  • After you have managed to remember a few dreams think of them before going to sleep, It can help spark recall.
  • After you've remembered most of your dream, try and put it into the right order. This will help, because it's easier to memorize things if you know what happened first, and always write that down first.
  • If you have already dreamed a dream and want to remember it, don't worry. When you're dreaming, you are in an entirely different set of mind. Try lucid dreaming. When you are in this set of mind and you are lucid dreaming, sometimes you have the ability to recall your past dreams! Think of it like if you had a part of your brain that stores dreams that you have, and you can only access it by dreaming.

Warnings

  • Be careful about interpreting dreams. The interpretation of dreams is not science, so don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t place too much importance on a dream. For example, a dream about death does not mean that someone will die, or that something bad will happen.
  • If you have trouble sleeping or difficulty getting enough sleep, don’t try to record dreams in the middle of the night. Just go back to sleep.

Things You'll Need

  • Something to record data
  • Something to wake you up (preferably gently)
  • A voice recorder (optional)

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. Dreams and Nightmares: The Origin and Meaning of Dreams, By Ernest Hartmann, p142, ISBN 0738203599
  2. Dreams and Nightmares: The Origin and Meaning of Dreams, By Ernest Hartmann, p142, ISBN 0738203599
  3. Dreams and Nightmares: The Origin and Meaning of Dreams, By Ernest Hartmann, p142, ISBN 0738203599

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