5 Tricks for Remembering Your Dreams

Woman awaken by alarm clock
Being jolted from a dream by your alarm clock can cause what's called dream amnesia. See more sleep pictures.
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Don't you hate it when you're having an intense dream, filled with sights and sounds so vivid, you're not sure if you're asleep or awake? And then all of a sudden...BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, you're startled by the buzzing of your alarm reminding you it's time to begin another day. As you rise, your dream steadily fades as fast as you hop into the shower. The pictures that were so clear in your head only minutes ago have dwindled, leaving not a single suggestion of what you were dreaming about. By the time you leave house, your dream is nothing but a distant memory.

Spells of dream amnesia, like this one, are extremely common. In fact, we forget more of our dreams than we retain. And even though remembering our dreams can be difficult, we've compiled five unique and effective ways to diminish the overpowering effects of dream amnesia. So click on to the next page to find out how you can wake up remembering your dreams.


5: The Window Treatment

The meaning of our dreams lies primarily within the fine details, and yet, most of us pass over these in our waking-lives, and even less in our dreams. To focus and recall details in these nighttime reveries requires a refined skill, or just a window with a view.

Take a five minute break from your routine and peer out a window to focus on a scene below you. Let's say the window overlooks a park. Take in the various colors you see in the sky and in the different trees, grasses, flowers, etc. Identify as many species of plant life as you can. Are the walkways similar to well-worn garden paths, or are they paved or gravel-lined? Study any benches, monuments or other decorative features. Notice any wildlife present or passing through like ducks, birds, butterflies or squirrels. Do you see a lake, pond or a brook? If there are adults in the park, are they walking, jogging or pushing baby strollers? Watch how the children are playing--on swings or slides, or perhaps with toys such as balls or kites. Make note of any vehicles or buildings.


After you've taken in the scene below you, take out a notebook and write down everything you've noticed. This process of experience and direct reflection is an easy and effective way to remember detail in ordinary life and your dreams.

4: Rewrite History! Well, Maybe Just Your Day

Woman writing in journal
Keeping a journal to track your dreams is a great tool for remembering your subconscious dreams.
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If gazing out a window isn't your thing, there are other ways to help encourage dream recollection. An easy way to get in the practice of remembering is to muse over the events of your day, and then flourish it with dream-like touches. Choose a specific occurrence that you enjoyed and pretend it was a dream. Write it down using the present tense, reliving it as you write. For example, you could write about your morning commute to work, or how you spent your lunch break. You could begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What time do I leave and arrive?
  • What am I wearing?
  • What's the weather like?
  • What day of the week is it?
  • What is my mood?
  • Do I speak with anyone?
  • How do I travel?
  • Am I alone?

You can extend the exercise for as long as you want while including as much detail as you can. Recalling, considering and recording these real-life details as though they took place in a dream helps train your mind to remember your dreams, and writing out an event mimics writing in a dream journal--an extremely important tool in dream work.


3: The Power of Suggestion

Another effective approach is to frequently suggest to yourself that you will remember your dreams. Select a short, positive phrase such as, "I remember my dreams easily." Rather than implying success at some point in the future, you will achieve better results if the statement is in the present tense.

You may want to choose a "suggestion trigger" to remind you to repeat your phrase throughout your day. For instance, every time you look at your watch or at a clock, repeat the phrase (either aloud or in your mind) as though it is an established fact. While doing so, visualize yourself writing out or sketching the details of your dreams.


You could also post reminder notes wherever you will notice them often, such as on your bathroom mirror, in your car or on your computer at work. It doesn't matter if you write your phrase on the notes or leave them blank, as long as they remind you of your intent.

2: A Peaceful Start

Man napping in hammock
This man is probably dreaming while he takes an extended nap on Little Torch Key in Florida.
Kraig Scarbinsky/ Photodisc/Thinkstock

For many of us, it is much easier to remember our dreams when we wake up naturally rather than to the sound an alarm clock. Waking naturally allows our dreams to linger into our conscious mind as we slowly rise out of REM sleep.

Those who simply cannot live without an alarm clock should take advantage of down time in their schedules. The best time to practice dream recollection is during a weekend or a vacation, when you can maximize your opportunity to awaken with your body's natural clock. You can also take advantage of extended naps. During naps longer than 20 minutes, the brain goes into the REM stage of sleep, so we dream. If you are able to wake soundly from an extended nap, take advantage of this time to also recollect dreams.


1: Get Me From My Good Side

Prepping your mind to remember your dreams is essential for dream recollection, but you must remember to prep your body as well. Dr. Patricia Garfield suggests that the position of your body during dreams is essential to recollecting them.

For instance, if you typically sleep on your right side but wake up on your left side and can't seem to remember your dreams, slowly roll over on to your opposite sleeping position and lie there for a moment. Usually, the dream comes fluttering back and you can start to remember events and instances within it.


Adapted from 500 Dreams Interpreted, © 2009 Publications International, Ltd.

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