Setting out to remember and understand your dreams has the potential to unlock countless possibilities. From deciphering your unconscious hopes and anxieties to working through puzzles that have you stuck in your waking life, dreams are your mind's way of parsing difficult information.
So many amazing inventions and fascinating works of art began in creators' dreams. The melody of the Beatles hit Yesterday came to Paul McCartney in his sleep, and surrealist painter Salvador Dali has referred to much of his work as "hand-painted dream photographs." Anxiety dreams inspired Larry Page to create Google and Elias Howe to invent the first sewing machine. Although accounts differ as to whether two intertwining snakes or a spiral staircase were featured in Scientist Dr. James Watson's dreams, it was during sleep that he first began to recognize the double helix spiral structure for DNA that helped earn him a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.
While your dreams may not inspire a ground-breaking invention or win you an international award, dream journals can also open a window into your own subconscious, allowing you to better understand your inner thoughts and feelings, and your waking life in general. And bonus: it's also fun!
While many people have trouble recalling dream details on a regular basis, the simplest way to strengthen dream memory is through journaling. Keep your Dream Journal on your bedside table along with a pen/pencil, and get in the habit of recording your dreams as soon as you wake up. Building a habit will make recall easier - not only does a dream journal offer a record that you can revisit for years to come, the exercise of writing them down also trains your brain to prioritize the mental space it takes to store these sleep memories.
Make sure you are recording your sleep and wake times, and considering whether you feel well-rested or if you tossed and turned all night. Your sleep patterns and the condition of your sleep have an impact on your dreaming, and prioritizing sleep can help improve your overall mood and attitude for the rest of the day.
Most importantly, our Dream Journal is meant to be a safe space that inspires you to start (or continue) a dream journaling habit. While our Dream Journal includes space for describing, reflecting, interpreting and sketching, don't feel as if you need to fill every line for all of your dreams. Maybe your dream was sensory overload, and quickly sketching symbolism is the easiest way for you to record the memory. Perhaps the dream was traumatic and is still too fresh for you to interpret - give yourself permission to just describe the events and leave it at that. You can always return to it days or weeks later, when you have more emotional space, to dig deeper into the meaning.
As you build your dream journaling practice, try to record as many details as possible, including what you were thinking or how you were feeling. Oftentimes when people verbally recount dreams they will leave out small details that seem trivial. However, it can be these seemingly insignificant fragments that offer the most information upon further reflection and interpretation.
Along with each dream report, we recommend you use the space for interpretation as a way to work through memories and other associations that come to mind when you think about the events and feelings from your dream. Sometimes the symbolism is obvious or personal, and may remind you of a specific event or time in your own life when you experienced similar emotions.
Dream imagery can also be abstract and universal to the human experience. We included a brief Symbolism Guide following the Forward of our Dream Journal to help get you started on interpretation. But we've also compiled a list of additional resources below with some really extensive symbolism references.
- Dream Moods - An extensive dream interpretation dictionary and discussion forum.
- Dream Dictionary - An A-Z symbolism guide and active dream forum.
- Dream Lookup - A searchable dream interpretation database.
Other Dreaming Resources
- How Dreams Work - An in-depth article by How Stuff Works about major dream theories, the science behind dreaming, and interpretation.
- UCSC Dream Research - Run by the dream research team at the University of California Santa Cruz, this site contains regularly updated links to academic research on dreams and their significance.
- Dream Bank - A collection of over 20,00 dream reports, from people ages 7 to 74.
- The Lucidity Institute - Articles, tips and links about remembering dreams and training your ability to lucid dream.
- Dreams and Dream Interpretations sub-reddits - Get in on the conversation and share your dreams with other (serious and hilarious) dreamers.
Keeping a dream journal and analyzing your dreams is a great way to build mental stamina, improve your sleep cycles, increase mental health and solve problems creatively. And in general, it's also a fun and rewarding practice that builds an amazing keepsake for years to come!
Tag us on Instagram @printfresh and show off your wildest dreams. We'd love to hear about your experience using our Dream Journal!