How to Start a Dream Journal

Updated on January 10, 2019
JenniferWilber profile image

Jennifer Wilber works as an ESL instructor, substitute teacher, and freelance writer. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and English.

How to Start a Dream Journal
How to Start a Dream Journal

What is a Dream Journal?

Dreams are mysterious and fascinating, but easily forgotten. How many times have you had an interesting dream, only to forget the major details later? Keeping a written record of your dreams can be an excellent way to help you to remember your dreams.

A dream journal or dream diary is exactly what it sounds like: a written log to help you keep track of your dreams. Recording your dreams in a diary or journal can help you to keep track of recurring patterns, themes, or symbols in your dreams, to interpret what your dreams might mean, and to remember your dreams more easily. Some people also believe that keeping a dream journal can help you to have lucid dreams more easily. There are many reasons to keep a dream diary, and many ways to go about starting one.

Dream diaries are a great way to "catch" your dreams for future recall.
Dream diaries are a great way to "catch" your dreams for future recall. | Source

Why You Should Keep a Dream Diary

Keeping a record of your dreams can help you to gain valuable insight into your own subconscious mind. By keeping a dream journal, you can later go back and review your entries to see if you notice any recurring patterns in your dreams. This can give you insight into what is bothering you in your waking life, or things that you need to work on.

Writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up can also help you to remember them long enough to attempt to interpret them. Your dreams are a window into your subconscious, so interpreting the hidden meanings behind them can help you to gain a better insight into yourself.

Keeping a written record of your dreams can also help you with general dream recall. Some people like to remember their dreams because they simply find them interesting and want to be able to recall them at a later date.

Some people also find that dream journaling helps them to have lucid dreams more often. Lucid dreams are dreams in which you realize that you are dreaming. While lucid dreaming, you can control what is happening in your dream and experience things that you could never actually do in your waking life.

An example of a pre-made dream journal and a refillable journal with a privacy lock.
An example of a pre-made dream journal and a refillable journal with a privacy lock. | Source

How to Start Your Dream Journal

You can use whatever medium works best for you for your dream diary. There are quite a few options for your dream journal.

Blank Notebook

A regular lined notebook is the simplest option to use for your dream journal. You can use any notebook and set up each entry any way you would like.

Refillable Journal

A refillable journal is another good option, those these are more costly than standard lined notebooks. A refillable journal allows you to move pages around to rearrange your dreams by theme, sorting recurrent dreams together, etc. Some of these types of journals even have locks if you are concerned about privacy.

Pre-Made Dream Journal

A pre-formatted dream journal is a good place to start if you’ve never kept a dream diary before. These have pages that are divided into specific sections, which helps to make sure you record all of the relevant information about your dreams.

Typed

You may also prefer to keep your dream journal electronically, by typing it onto your computer or into your mobile device or tablet. You can use a regular word processor, or an online diary website (which you may or may not wish to set the privacy settings to “private,” depending on how you feel about other people reading about your dreams).

Digital Recorder

If you hate writing by hand and typing, you may also wish to use a voice recorder to a voice-to-text application to record your dreams.

Once you have decided on the medium you wish to use for your dream journal, you should keep it near your bed so that you can write down your dream as soon as you wake up, before you begin to forget your dream. If you are using a digital option for recording your dream, keep your tablet, phone, laptop, or other device near your bed for easy access.

You don’t have to wait until you have your next dream to start your dream journal. Start by writing down everything you remember about dreams you’ve already had. These can be dreams from the night before or dreams from years ago. Just write down what you remember about each dream.

It is important to write down everything your remember about your dream before it fades if you want to remember it long-term.
It is important to write down everything your remember about your dream before it fades if you want to remember it long-term. | Source

What to Document for Each Dream

What and how you document each dream is up to you. You may want to include several specific sections for each dream, such as “What happened?,” “How it made me feel,” and “Interpretation.” If you are using a pre-made journal, it will already have sections laid out for you, which you can choose to use or not use depending on the dream and your preferences.

As soon as you wake up, begin writing down everything you remember about the dream. What happened, who was there, how you felt, etc. Be sure to include the date (you may want to pre-date the next page for the next morning before you go to bed). You also may want to include a title for each dream, to help you to remember it later. If you don’t have time to write out the entire narrative of your dream, or prefer not to, it is okay to simply make a bulleted list of the main things you remember from it. The important thing is getting down enough information that you will be able to remember it later.

After you write down everything you remember from your dream, you can begin attempting to interpret it. You don’t necessarily have to do this right away. You can think over your dream and come back to this part later to record what you think it meant.

Crazy dream symbols can mean different things to different people.
Crazy dream symbols can mean different things to different people. | Source

Interpreting Your Dreams

After getting down all of the information about your dream, you may wish to attempt to interpret your dream. Write the interpretation in your journal next to or underneath what you wrote about the dream itself. Many people believe that dreams are your subconscious mind’s way of telling you something or helping you to figure things out to deal with your waking life. Figuring out what your dream could mean may help you to learn things about yourself or about your current mindset. Your dreams may also help you to solve a problem that you were stuck on during the day.

There are many websites and books out there to help you to interpret the symbols in your dreams. These can be useful to a point, but remember, your dreams are personal. A symbol that appears in your dream may mean something completely different to you than it would mean for someone else. If you choose to use these guides to help you to figure out what your dream means, take these interpretations with a grain of salt. Think about what the particular symbol means to you. Does the given interpretation resonate with you, or do you associate it with a different meaning? Pay particular attention to how you felt during the dream.

What will you dream about tonight?
What will you dream about tonight? | Source

Sweet Dreams

Keeping a dream diary can be a great way to help you to remember your dreams and to learn more about yourself. If you choose to start a dream diary, be consistent in keeping it updated and look back through it often to reflect on your past dreams to see if there are any patterns. Journaling about your dreams can be a fun and insightful exercise to figure out what your subconscious mind is trying to tell you.

Research Sources and Further Reading

dreammoods.com

psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dreaming-in-the-digital-age/201705/keeping-dream-journal

wikihow.com/Keep-a-Dream-Journal

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jennifer Wilber

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Lauren 

        8 weeks ago

        Hey! I loved this article. Recently ive becoem very interested in spirit guides, tarot cards and dreams. I want to start a dream journal and possibly Lucid Dream. Thank you!

      • JenniferWilber profile imageAUTHOR

        Jennifer Wilber 

        4 months ago from Cleveland, Ohio

        Write down whatever you can remember when you first wake up. If you remember more later, you can add to it. Don’t worry about making sure it’s all exactly in order, since you might remember things about the dream out of sequence. Just write everything down as it comes to you, don’t worry about the plot making sense. :)

      • thedinasoaur profile image

        Dina AH 

        4 months ago from United States

        Jennifer, this is really helpful. As I have been working through ongoing anxieities in therapy, I have been encouraged to keep track of dreams. I do hesitate because it's daunting. Plus, it feels like it could really reveal some deep wounds. But, I do like how you said that the dreams are ours, and that only we know what they truly mean.

        My question is: how do you capture a dream's plot when just waking up? Do you have any tips on how to manage this feat? It seems really difficult. Do you write key words and then come back to it later on?

      • Hayley Dodwell profile image

        Hayley Dodwell 

        5 months ago from United Kingdom

        Fascinating article, thank you!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        5 months ago from Sunny Florida

        Many years ago I did try writing my dreams down since they are so easily forgotten once you wake up fully. I don't seem to remember my dreams as much lately, just a few, but writing them down would be interesting.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, exemplore.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://exemplore.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)