Inspiration can come from anywhere…
And for some people, their dreams unlock tons of new ideas and solutions.
If you aren’t that lucky, you probably still enjoy fun and exciting dreams from time to time. While they seem like they may go on forever, most dreams only last 5 to 20 minutes in real time.
Sleeping allows you to get rest both physically and mentally, but your mind isn’t just sitting still. As your mind wanders, you process experiences and events from past and present. Dreams can help you understand yourself better, access intuitive insights, and even program your mind for success.
As wonderful as it is to dream, it’s even better if you can access the wisdom of your dreams upon awakening. Unfortunately, most of us forget our dreams within moments of waking up. Dream journaling can help.
Dream journaling gets you into the habit of recording your dreams and trying to recall as many details as possible. The more you prioritize your dream life, the easier it becomes to remember. The more you remember, the more you can use your dreams to spark creativity or understand hidden emotions.
The easiest way to start dream journaling is to keep a notebook by your bedside, but you can also use specialized dream templates, such as these printable dream journal templates created by The Sleep Advisor.
You can start out by simply recording the details of your dreams as soon as you wake up and remembering how they made you feel. Then you can take your dream interpretation up a notch by trying to paint or draw emotions and visuals from your dream. Finally, you can try setting intentional goals for dreaming, with the aim of breaking through subconscious blocks and manifesting success.
It can take about a month to start to see useful patterns in your dreams and master your ability to remember, so keep practicing to get the most benefits.
How Dreams Can Spark Creativity
Science knows that paying attention to your dreams can make you more creative, but why?
Just as doing Sudoku puzzles and riddles can help your logical problem-solving, dreaming is creative exercise for your brain.
Creativity flourishes with an active imagination, and dreams are nothing BUT imagination. Very often, when you imagine something, you are recombining past experiences in a new way. Seeing new links between disparate ideas or experiences is one of the best ways to come up with innovative ideas.
Writers, artists, and other creatives who struggle with a creative slump can jog new ideas by delving into their emotions. Maybe you’re too stressed about an upcoming test to have the mental space for coming up with something new, or perhaps you’re holding back from testing out a new artistic technique because you’re worried it won’t work.
Instead of letting fear hold you back, turn to dream journaling. Writing down your dreams can help you connect with your emotions, work through them, and leverage them to your advantage.
Do This to Dream More
If you don’t think you dream very much, don’t worry. Everyone dreams! We just don’t always remember our dreams when we wake up.
Here are some tips to help you gain more access to your dream world.
Tell yourself to dream. It might sound crazy, but give it a try. Right before you fall asleep, tell yourself, “I will dream tonight.”
Get more rest. Spending more time asleep means more time for dreaming. You want to make sure your body gets through at least 4 or 5 sleep cycles, so that you have plenty of time for REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is where dreaming occurs.
Interrupt your sleep. If spending more time in bed isn’t your thing, you could also try waking up early. Set an alarm for 4 to 5 hours after you fall asleep. You should wake up in the middle of your REM cycle, when you’ll remember what you’re dreaming quite clearly. Record the dream, then go back to sleep.
Increase your melatonin. The light from a phone screen, laptop, or TV can throw off your body’s natural production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Get plenty of natural light in the morning and avoid blue light sources for an hour before bed to get your deepest sleep.
How to Keep a Dream Journal
Keep it By Your Bed
The moment you wake up, your memories will start fading, so make it as easy as possible for you to record what you remember immediately by keeping your journal next to your bed. If you can’t remember the entire dream, that’s okay. Try focusing on the details you do remember. Ask yourself questions like, “Who was I with?” or, “What did I feel?” to jog your memory further.
Record Every Day
If you just record your dreams on weekends, you won’t get the full benefit of the practice. Make dream journaling a daily habit, and try not to miss a single morning. Even if you’ve got a full day ahead, jot down a few quick fragments from your dream. It won’t take long, and those fragments can jog your memory later.
Go Into Detail
However, it’s better to take a few extra minutes if it means capturing the complexities of an interesting dream. You may not realize the significance of something until you look back on your journal and see recurring themes or symbols. Being thorough doesn’t mean you have to write in complete sentences, though! You’re the only one who will read your dream journal, so just make sure your notes make sense to you.
Interpret Your Dreams
There are plenty of dream dictionaries that can tell you commonly accepted meanings for dream symbols. But you don’t need one. Many of the images that show up in your dreams will have personal meaning for you.
Consider how your dream connect to the events going on in your daily life. Have you experienced the same emotions you were feeling in the dream in real life? If your dream was scary or stressful, is there something going on in your life that feels scary or stressful?
Objects or people that show up in your dreams can also connect you to past experiences. For example, maybe you dreamed of a lawn mower because something you’re going through reminds you of the summer you first learned to use one.
Look Back For Patterns and Inspiration
The more you record, the more likely you are to discover valuable insights and inspiration for your work. At the end of a week or month, read back over what you’ve recorded. Try to identify some common themes or symbols. There may be details that take on a new meaning or are more interesting on the second read-through. Consider what’s most intriguing to you and why.
How to Use Your Dreams to Manifest Success
It may feel as if you can’t influence your dreams consciously, but many people find that they can use dreams to unlock solutions to difficult problems.
Before falling asleep at night, think of a difficult problem you’re having, whether in your personal life or at work. Then set the intention of gaining insight into that problem while you’re asleep.
You can also review your past dreams for patterns that reveal your deepest fears and blocks. Maybe you’d like to apply for a promotion at work, but you’re afraid of having to do more public speaking. No wonder you’ve been having so many dreams about standing up to speak in front of a group and finding out you’re wearing pajamas!
How to Use Dream Templates
Print these templates out and keep them by your bed. You might wish to add the pages to a 3-ring binder to keep your recordings in one place.
Write down what you remember on the first template, noting the day and type of dream. Whether you have nightmares or lucid dreams frequently will help you to identify any long-term patterns.
Then write out your interpretation on the next page. If you aren’t sure what your dream means, include things going on in your life, even if they don’t seem related. You may realize looking back that your vision of a castle in the clouds was highly informed by those experiences. Also use these moments to let the dream inspire any quick creative reactions in any form you choose.
Included are additional worksheets designed to help you discover any creative ideas hidden in your slumber, and work towards success in your everyday life. You could fill one out every morning if you so choose, or only use the prompts weekly for your most interesting imaginings.
Every night, you have the opportunity to peel back the conscious mind and peer into the weird, wonderful world of your subconscious. Don’t let those opportunities go to waste! Regardless of how you think of yourself during the day, your dreams prove you have incredible powers of imagination and problem-solving. Dream journaling can help you harness those powers, even when you’re wide awake.