Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Should You Keep a Dream Journal?

Claudia

We’ve talked about bullet journaling and the benefits of handwriting. We don’t bat an eye when we hear about someone keeping a food diary or a birding journal. But what do you think about keeping a journal just for your dreams? Now, before you write this off (no pun intended) as a weird, new age-y practice, let’s look at the facts—the average person spends a total of 6 years dreaming (yes, even people who swear they don’t dream are probably still dreaming). Wouldn’t you want a record of what you spent doing for 6 years?

Many think that when we dream our minds are, in a sense, letting the debris of our days come up to the surface. Whether you think this could be enlightening or not, there is no denying that our brains produce a lot of content when we’re sleeping (we dream during REM, which takes up about 20 percent of sleep). I don’t know about you, but I think it’s content worth mining.

I hadn’t really thought about dream journaling as a practice until taking a job as a seasonal farmer a couple of years ago. I was far from home and doing intense, focused work for 10 hours a day. At night I did little else but eat, shower, and go to bed. After a week, I noticed my dreams became stranger and more vivid. My bunkmate, who kept a dream notebook under her pillow and wrote in it upon waking every day, suggested that I do the same and see what happened. Well, I did. And the results were very interesting—I started to see patterns, recurring themes, archetypes, and learned a lot about myself with this simple practice.

Here are some tips for starting a dream journal of your own (I’d recommend using the Rhodia Goalbook, which includes ribbon markers and a table of contents that would make cataloguing easy):

1. Use a notebook you love. Keep it under your pillow with a pen marking the following day’s page, so it’s ready to go. Make sure to write the date in advance.

2. Try recording your dream/s no more than 5 minutes after the end of it/them—about 90 percent of that information will be gone after that.

3. If you don’t remember what your dreams were, what did you feel upon waking? What was the general idea? Even if you don’t retain images, over time you may start to notice patterns.

4. If you don’t feel anything but grogginess in the morning, try writing about the quality of your sleep. Did you wake up a few times? Around what time did you fall asleep? When did you wake up for good?

5. If this all seems like too much work, start by journaling before bed. Write out the main events of the day and/or what you’re feeling before turning in. See how this affects your dreams or the quality of your sleep.

Yes, this is a bit out of the box, but maybe you’ll find that recording your dreams and/or sleeping habits will reveal things about your mental, emotional, and physical health. You may even find some artistic inspiration.


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