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How to Keep a Dream Journal for Lucid Dreaming

Lucid dreaming happens when the person dreaming has some awareness that they are in a dream state. Sometimes people experience lucid dreaming where they are flying, or involved in some other scenario where they have control over what is happening but know that it’s not “real”.

Lucid dreams can be incredible experiences where you feel elated or touch base with long-lost friends or family members. It can also be scary, like when you are stuck inside of a nightmare and you know it’s a dream.

When we sleep, our brain activity changes to processing thoughts and emotions that carry value. They can be deeply moving experiences that transform the way we think about an experience or affect our behaviors going forward.

beautiful lady in dress dreaming floating in the kitchen

Many people like to keep dream journals to help them remember what happened in the dreams and whether they hold any insights into their lives in the waking world. By having a journal near the bed or a daily journaling practice, you can record your dreams while they are still fresh in your memory.

Too often, people say that they had an incredible dream, but can’t recite the details. They only remember how things felt.

The good news is that doing certain things like eating healthily, exercising, and practicing specific sleep practices can increase your chances of having lucid dreams, so keeping a journal becomes even more valuable.

Let’s explore some more about lucid dreams and why keeping a dream journal is a great idea.

A Bit About Lucid Dreaming

For whatever reason, some people are more inclined to lucid dream than others.

Some report only having a few lucid dreams in their lives, though they are often remembered as significant experiences that carry deep meaning. Others have them regularly, and they become something to look forward to and even pursue.

Lucid dreaming happens when your brain transitions between rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, and non-REM sleep.

When you shift between the two, your brain activity, heart rate, and eye movements change. There is usually a spike in brain activity, which is why the dreams become much more realistic.

Getting to REM Sleep Faster and More Often

If transitioning between REM sleep and non-REM sleep is where most lucid dreaming happens, then entering into REM sleep is the key to more lucid dreams.

Unfortunately, many people these days have a hard time getting into REM sleep for several reasons. Sleep quality, overall, is poorer than in the past because of busy lives, electronics, diet, and lack of exercise.

woman sleeping on her bed with clock on her side

Here are some ways you can get more REM sleep:

  • Set a Sleep Schedule – If you’re waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to bed, then you’re not getting enough deep sleep. You should be going to bed earlier and sleeping for longer.

To help with this, give yourself a bedtime.

Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you have to sit around watching TV until midnight. Going to bed on a schedule and getting plenty of sleep will help.

  • Avoid StimulantsHave you ever met someone who seems to be able to get to sleep two minutes after they hit the bed?

If you’re someone who tosses and turns for up to an hour before your brain finally calms down, then you may want to stop drinking coffee, caffeinated sodas, eating sugars, and taking any other supplements close to bedtime.

  • Put Down the PhoneIt’s part of the evening ritual for so many of us, scrolling through social media or watching videos before bed, but it’s damaging the quality of your sleep.

Phones before bed can strain your eyes and stimulate your brain so it’s harder to get to sleep.

  • Make a Sleep RoutineYour body can learn to notice physical cues that let it know it’s time for bed.

Whether that’s reading a book, lighting a candle, listening to some music, or something else, you can create a routine that signals that it is time for you to relax.

  • Exercise Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to get REM sleep.

You need to tire your body out so it longs for restorative sleep and will get to sleep faster. Going for a run or a walk before bed is a great way to get better sleep.

Keeping a Journal Near the Bed

Even if you have the best of intentions, remembering your dream is going to be tough.

When you wake up and start your day, your mind immediately kicks into gear thinking about what you need to do, what time the kids need to be at school, and the million other things that you need to take care of.

Instead of reaching for your phone after you wake up, put a notebook and a pen or pencil next to your bed that can be used as a lucid dream journal. It will help you remember your dreams better and make it so you can refer back to them later on when you have time.

Young woman sitting on a bed at home and writing something in the notebook

And don’t just journal your dreams when you have a lucid dream. Journal what you dreamt about every night.

Even if things are foggy when you wake up, record any details that you can remember. It’s a fantastic way of training your brain to retain details about your dreams.

When you do finally have a lucid dream, the memory will likely be clearer than if you only save journal entries for lucid dreams.

What To Do with Your Lucid Dream Journal Entries

OK, so you’ve started writing down your lucid dreams, so now what? Is there any meaning in them and, if so, how do you find out?

While it may be a stretch to say that your dreams hold some sort of a key to unlocking human potential or keen insight into your personal development, there is something to it.

By keeping a dream journal, you create a lasting record of what goes on inside of your brain while you are asleep.

Smiling Man with photo camera outdoors

Here are some reasons why that’s important:

Meaningful Memories One of the best parts of lucid dreams is that the dreamers have some semblance of control over what happens, where they go, and who appears.

Lucid dreams often involve meetings with deceased relatives, like parents or grandparents, or trips back to significant childhood settings. Remembering these dreams can be emotionally strengthening to people who want to feel connections to people or places in the past.

Understanding of Self – Lucid dreams, and writing them down in a lucid dream journal, can help you better understand yourself. They can help you analyze why you acted in a certain dream setting and how you either admired that or regretted the way things happened.

Making connections between what happened in a lucid dream and your waking life can help you identify areas for improvement and better acknowledge your strengths.

Stokes CreativityA lot of creatives draw on dream experiences to feed their creativity.

Dreams come through in paintings, stories, and music. You can draw on what happens in a dream that you wrote down in your art.

It’s easier to recall the dream and integrate it into a work that can take months or years to create.

A Healing Experience – Many people carry around trauma from their childhood or past relationships without knowing it.

Dreaming can help you ease the stress of those experiences or help you work to resolve them.

When you’re in a lucid dream, you can control the environment and your actions better than you did in the past. It can help you change the way you think or feel about things and can ease feelings of guilt or anxiety around certain experiences.