Do you wish you could remember more dreams? You’re all set up with a dream journal on your bedside table, you’re keen and excited… but nothing happens? Dream recall can be capricious – one day you may remember three or four dreams, the next day nothing at all. It can feel frustrating, especially if you feel eager to kick-start your journey into dream exploration and lucid dreaming. Here are seven things you can do – as well as things you might want to stop doing – in order to encourage plentiful dream recall.
1. Be patient
When we actively focus our attention on our dreams and become goal-oriented about remembering them, this can sometimes have the startling opposite effect of making them vanish, like shy animals. It’s almost as if they have a case of performance anxiety or stage fright, and hide away on purpose. If this happens, don’t worry – they will come back. It’s good to be right-brained about this and trust the process, rather than taking a left-brained approach. Rather than striving to remember your dreams and berating yourself when you can’t remember any, instead think of your dreams as beautiful wild creatures and coax them towards you with warmth and love in your heart. They will respond – be patient.
2. Take it all in your stride
One of the most important things is not to let feelings of frustration get the better of you. Go easy on yourself – if we let a sense of failure creep in each time we wake up with no memory of our dreams, this can create a strong psychological block that actually stops us from remembering our dreams. Also, sometimes much later in the day, something will happen that will trigger dream recall, so first thing in the morning is not the only time that we will remember dreams.
3. Write in your dream journal every day… even if you’ve got nothing
Even if you wake up with zero dream recall, reach for your dream journal or voice recorder anyway. Write (or speak) from the prompt: “I feel…” Just allow anything to emerge. You might find yourself writing about a particular emotion, which might lead to a memory… or to a snippet of a dream you had that night. This is a wonderful way of checking in with yourself in the mornings and in this golden half-awake moment, we write from the same place that dreams come from. It’s all valuable material for your dream journal, and will encourage dreams to re-emerge, too.
4. Make use of mini-awakenings
We all wake up briefly many times in the night, to change positions and often at the end of sleep cycles, so this is a great time to think back: “What was I just doing? Who was I with? How was I feeling?” Even if all you can recall is a colour or shape, write it down. If you don’t want to disturb your bed partner by turning on the light, try a pen with a light at the nib, or speak softly into a voice recorder.
5. Welcome the art of napping into your life
Naps are so great on so many levels, for revitalisation, wellbeing… and for remembering dreams! We often sink quickly into dream-rich REM sleep and so this is a wonderful opportunity to recall dreams. Stay in the same position for a few moments when you wake up, as dreams tend to disappear quickly if we move or open our eyes too fast. For an immersion into the wonders of Lucid Sleep and guided lucid dream meditations, find out more here.
6. Consider any dream-inhibiting medications
Certain medications inhibit dream recall, and some even stop people from dreaming altogether. People also report different effects from taking melatonin, a sleep-enhancing hormone. Many people report far less lucid dreams when they take melatonin. Speak to your doctor before you make any changes in any medications, including herbal supplements.
7. Sleep with a dream pebble
Try sleeping with a pebble or gemstone in your hand all night long. It really is possible to keep hold of it all night, but if you lose it, try to find it again. Some people love to choose a beautiful pebble, or paint one, or choose a gemstone that means something to them, like amethyst or rose quartz. When we imbue our dream pebble with the firm intention to remember our dreams, every time we become aware of it in the night, we are reminded of this intention. Even if you wake up with just a fragment of a dream, jot it down and pat yourself on the back, knowing that more – many more – rich dreams are on their way to you.
I’ve personally created blissful guided lucid dream meditations to encourage imaginal journeying on the cusp of sleep, help you get lucid in your dreams, and experience vivid dream recall. These can be explored here.