Banner Academy for Undergraduate Enhancement Division of Undergraduate Education

Keeping a Dream Journal

Dreaming Woman

You spend about one-third of your life asleep and roughly six years of your life dreaming—­which is why investing in a good mattress is so important. Everyone dreams, even if you don’t remember, and most people dream about 100 minutes each night. Keeping a dream journal can give you great insight into the mysterious and exciting realm of dreams. It can also be a great tool for finding meaning in dreams and a look at your unconscious world. The very act of writing your dreams down helps to increase future dream recall.

Many individuals start a dream journal to help them lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is the awareness of the fact that you are dreaming. Once you realize you are dreaming, you have the power to control your dreams. Conscious dreaming is a powerful way to increase your creativity, and many famous works have been inspired by dreams. While lucid dreaming you can intentionally perform any desired action within the unconscious dream. Keeping a record of your dreams is an essential step to lucid dreaming. It will help you uncover repetitive objects or events in your dreams and lets your mind know that you are serious about remembering.

Here are some tips for beginning a dream journal.

Find a Journal

Devote a fresh journal or notebook for dream recording. Personally, I like to record my dreams in a notes app on my phone. For me it’s fast and I can get more details written down before memories of my dreams start to fade out. Keep your journal within arms reach of your bedside. The best time to record your dreams is when first waking from one; your brain will quickly start to overwrite the memory of your dream, so write it down immediately. If you’re writing your dreams rather than typing them, make sure you have easy access to a pen or pencil.

Jot down the date

Make sure to log every dream you have, even if you don’t remember it completely. Write down everything you can recall. When I finish an entry, I always write the date of my dream. It doesn’t matter if it’s the morning of the dream or the night before. Write in your journal in present tense as if the dream is occurring before you (e.g. “I am in a room decorated by hair straighteners”). This will help you remember the details of your dream by putting you back into the moment.


Write down every possible detail you can remember in your journal. Colors, location, characters, sounds, emotions and objects are all important parts of your dream. Try to list any themes you may have noticed after you’ve completed your entry. If explaining the details of your dream is difficult, try a quick sketch. Grammar is not something you should worry about. The journal is for you. If someone else was to read my journal, they would more than likely assume it was from the hands of a child. My journal is riddled with errors. Once you have finished recording your dream, you should title it. This will help you remember what each dream was about.


If you write down your dreams in detail, later you can try to interpret them. Sometimes the meaning of your dream will be obvious, other times you will have to look a little deeper. When analyzing your dreams, ask yourself: what do I recognize from my life? What events or symbols are reoccurring? Some dreams can be personal messages to ourselves, giving us an inside look on how we feel about certain things. Decide whether your dream is a reflection of a situation you are experiencing in real life. Examining your dreams will help you make sense of them and possibly find a deeper meaning. For me, this is the fun part.

A lot of websites have some outrageous interpretations for a dream you may have. For example, “a dream about eating corn on the cob symbolizes a deep desire to floss”.  As proud as this would make your dentist, don’t take any interpretation too seriously or turn the meaning of your dream into something farfetched. You are your best interpreter. Start with this website to figure out some standard interpretations.

Understanding your dreams may help you have a stronger view on your personal life, unlocking some hidden emotions. Your dreams are unique and can be connected to your own reality. When analyzing a dream, try to think about what’s going on in your life, how you’ve been feeling or current events that may have had an impact on you. Once you find meaning to your dreams, you hold the power to further your self-exploration. Your dreaming mind has access to information not readily available to your waken self. So start a dream journal and start the exploration. Who knows, maybe you’ll reveal what you really want to do with the rest of your life. I’m still holding out for that dream.