Creative Dreaming

Ever since I started working on this month-long sleep odyssey, I've been remembering my dreams more clearly and frequently than ever before. And it's funny, people around me, my wife and friends, for example, who've heard me talk about all my dream experiences, say they've begun to remember their dreams, too.

It's not surprising. Most dream experts will say that consistently thinking about your dreams should jog dream memories. But there's more you can do to improve dream recall. The following tips have been distilled from the book Creative Dreaming, by pioneering dream worker Patricia Garfield:

  • Attitude is important. If you value your dreams and treat them with respect, you'll remember them more easily.
  • When you go to bed at night, tell yourself you're going to vividly remember your dreams when you wake.
  • When you wake from a dream, lie still with your eyes closed and let the dream images gently flow into your mind. Watch patiently but carefully; even the briefest, vaguest images can trigger the full blown memory of a dream.
  • If you wake with no dream recall at all, let your mind wander over images of people close to you — your family, your friends — as if flipping through a photo album. With any luck, one of these folks played a role in your dreams, and by visualizing them, the dream may reveal itself to you.
  • If that doesn't work, try rolling over. Research shows that moving from one sleep position to another often triggers the memory of a dream. (It may be that the memory of the dream is coded in such a way that it's linked to the position of the sleeper when the dream was dreamed.)

Once you remember a dream, you should immediately capture it in writing, before it has a chance to fade. Serious dream journalers keep a notebook by the bedside to jot down dreams as soon as they awaken. Some even tape pens to small flashlights, so they can record dreams when they awaken during the night. People who conscientiously document their dreams say that after a while they remember virtually every dream they have.