JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Dream Journal (Part
We all dream. Dreams are fodder for wild or scary scenarios, and dream journaling may provide insight into your life.
Recording your dreams is an archeological dig into what’s going on in your waking world. According to Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and author of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, dream journaling provides insight into your daily behavior, thoughts, and feelings.
“Journaling dreams allows you to open up a dialogue with the other side of your mind. Once you make that a habit, you and your dreams become partners in helping you live the life you are meant to live,” says Loewenberg.
We’re exploring a variety of journal writing here at Sleep Number. Journaling can help calm the mind, establish a creative outlet and track physical needs in ways that can ultimately help you sleep better. Hopefully, at least one type of journaling works for you.
What’s the Point of Recording Dreams?
Our dreams help us understand ourselves, our behavior, and our lives on a deeper level.
“Sometimes just the act of writing them lets me unlock a dream’s hidden meaning,” notes Maureen Calamia, a Feng shui expert who uses dream work in her personal life and with clients. She uses Dream Moods dream dictionary to look up meanings and major dream symbolism. “Then I can see how it might be related to a current challenge in my life and what my potential next step should be.”
Loewenberg says dreams tend to be a continuation of our thoughts from the day, but since the brain works differently while we are in REM dream sleep, we think in symbols and metaphors rather than the literal, linear thinking of daytime. People can usually connect a dream to something from yesterday, from a conversation or to something that happened to them.
If you dreamed of being attacked by a bear, for example, you may find that you wrote in your day journal that your mother-in-law came over for dinner and criticized your cooking. If you review previous entries, you may find you dream of being shot, attacked, or chased whenever you interact with your mother-in-law. This pattern would show you feel uneasy with that relationship.
How to Keep a Dream Journal?
Writing your dreams down in a notebook or journal kept on your bedside table is the best way to begin. That half-asleep state when you first wake, when you’re mind remains fuzzy but you still remember the dream, is the best time to get it down.
“Write down as much as you can remember right away. If you don’t have time, write a few key words that will remind you,” Loewenberg suggests. Date each dream and give it a title based on something that occurred, like “ugly monster chasing me, or “lost hiking through the forest.” Then describe the dream—the more detail, the better.
Often, seemingly insignificant things like what you were wearing or who was chasing you are noteworthy. Record how you thought and felt in the dream—scared, happy, worried. You can even start a journal retroactively by writing down the earliest dream you can remember, or a couple of stand-out dreams from childhood that have stuck with you over the years. Voilà! You’ve started a dream journal.
Connecting the dots and finding patterns is the key to dream work. Loewenberg recommends keeping a dream journal in tandem with a day journal, to “help you connect the dots between the content of your day and the imagery in your dreams at night,” she says.
She recommends intertwining the two—daytime thoughts on the left hand side of the page, dreams on the right.
Another important rule is that emotions you feel in the dream may be directly connected to that same emotion in your real life. If the outstanding emotion in your dream is frustration, maybe consider the most frustrating thing you are dealing with right now in real life.
If you have a Sleep Number bed with SleepIQ technology, you can also use bed’s build-in sleep tracker app’s journal feature to enter: “Dream: [nightmare] [ no dreams] [etc..xx]”. Entering this into the app over time may help give you more insights into how your dreams are or aren’t impacting the quality of your sleep, helping you connect the quality of your sleep at night (your SleepIQ score) with your dreams and daytime happenings.
And finally, remember that your dreams symbolize you, or some part of your life. Dreaming about the class clown from seventh grade is really about you, not about the class clown. Ask yourself how you or someone close to you is acting like that class clown.
Dreams are mysterious, magical and perplexing but no matter what you dream, dream journaling may help you understand yourself more.
Other articles of interest:
- Bedtime Reading Recos to Fall Asleep
How & Why to Try a Gratitude Journal (Part 1)
How & Why to Try a Problem-Solving Journal (Part 2)
- JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Visual Journal (Part 3)
- JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Feelings Journal (Part 5)
- JOURNALING: How & Why to Try a Sleep Journal (Part 6)
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.