The average person spends 26 years sleeping over their lifetime. The vast majority of us don’t remember those years at all. I get it. It’s easy to forget those unknown unknowns. However, if I was to say you forget 26 years of your waking life, you’d probably freak out.
So, how do we remember those fuzzy narratives from the depths of our minds? One of the best things you can do is to write in your dream journal every day. Make it part of your routine. That continuous dipping into the pool of the subconscious will create deeper and deeper inroads into that subconscious.
Also, strike while the memory is hot. As soon as you wake, your ability to remember the dream starts to wither. The first thing you should do is start writing. Don’t wait. Have your journal beside your bed, pen inside, ready to go. I used to waste the first ten minutes of my day with Twitter while I sat on the can—how can I say?—doing what needed to be done. Now I take that time to add another page to my dream journal, killing two birds with one bowel movement.
Another great way to increase your dream recall is to give each entry a title. This creates an anchor of importance, giving your conscious mind a guide to the subconscious. That way, there isn’t any thought or time wasted deciding what vague memory to write down. You can always write down the less concrete memories down later.
Don’t skimp on the detail. The more detail you get down on paper, the more you will exercise that recall muscle. Memory is inexorably linked to emotion, so detail what you felt during the dream as much as possible. There will be cloudy dream memories that are hard to put into words. Try to do it anyway.
Writing in a paper book will help as well. I used to use a voice recorder app on my phone. This is purely anecdotal evidence, but I found that writing on paper helped me remember the night before. It might have something to do with how our minds operated differently when reading paper books as opposed to ebooks. I’m not quite sure about this, to tell the truth. So, take that with a grain of salt.
I also suggest using a special pen meant only for the dream journal. The familiar texture of that particular pen will trigger your brain to go into a flow state. The memories will pour out with the ink. I didn’t get that when I was recording my voice because I used my phone for so many other things.
This is kind of an aside, but you might want to record some sleep data as well. After I’m done writing the dream down, I make a note of the date, where I slept, when I went to bed, woke up, and the quality of sleep. You never know when it might be useful.
Until next time!
Your humble scribe,