As I mention in Why We Forget Our Dreams, simply reading about dreams may be enough to help you remember your dreams. However, if you want specific techniques there are a few steps you can follow to unlock the door to your dream warehouse.
To get started dreaming,
1. You have to want to remember
If you don’t remember, you may start remembering simply by stating that you want to remember you dreams.
2. Invite dreams into your life
Historically, cultures from around the world practiced elaborate rituals to elicit meaningful dreams. The exact method of the ritual is not important; however, the very act of creating a ritual or focusing one’s attention on the dreaming process helps improve dream recall. Here are some simple ideas:
- Imagine successfully remembering your dreams.
- Imagine it’s morning and you’re recording your dream in your journal.
- Keep a pen and dream journal close to your bed.
- Prior to sleep, write in your journal, “I will remember my dream in the morning.”
- Make the conscious decision to remember your dreams.
3. Take dreams seriously, fake it until you make it if you don’t
If you secret believe dreams are silly, or if you think they are random neurons firing in your brain chances are good you don’t care enough to remember. Give dreams a chance by putting aside judgement for awhile. What have you got to lose?
4. Record your first thought or emotion when you wake up
- As soon as you wake, write whatever comes to mind.
- If you remember a dream, record it.
- If you remember a feeling, record it, e.g. I feel happy.
- If you have a vague sense of something, write, “I have a vague sense of something.”
- Elaborate if you can, but write something.
- Draw a simple picture with stick figures.
- Do this every day until you start remembering.
5. Upon waking in the night from a dream, either get up and record the dream or create a title and repeat it several times
When I’m tired I’m lazy. I don’t like to get out of bed in the middle of the night so I devised this method of remembering dreams. Create a title, repeat it five times and then fall asleep. See title writing details on page 25. (However, writing it down is even better.)
6. If you had a dream but forgot it, return to original sleeping position
If you forget your dreams immediately upon waking, you might remember them as soon as you go to bed the same or even the following night. Also, immediately upon waking return to the position you were in when you were dreaming. This too can help improve dream recall. Better yet, do not move when you wake and realize you were dreaming. The second you move you may forget everything.
Keep a dream journal by your bed to record dream memories as they surface. If you’re too tired to write, use my title trick.
7. Remember the feelings of a forgotten dream and let go of expectation for remembering the details
Many people wake up in the middle of the night and remember their dreams, only to drift back to sleep. Upon waking a second time, you may have a vague feeling of remembering a dream. If this happens, let go of the need to remember the details. Allow the vague dream feelings to build momentum in your body. Focus solely on the feeling, not the imagery. This process helps the images and events of the dream to resurface to conscious memory.
8. Get enough sleep
9. Abstain from drugs and alcohol, or use moderately
10. B vitamins (I’m not sure why, but studies have shown that B vitamins help with dream recall)
Once you start remembering your dreams, it’s time to delve into their rich offerings. Learn how to keep a journal, if you aren’t already, and start dreaming!
Read Next: Why are Dreams Difficult to Understand?