Learning how to remember dreams turns out to be more of a matter of conditioning yourself to remember them. Several simple methods can help you improve your dream memories. Some techniques even take it a step further and help you control the dream action. These methods aren’t as complicated as you think. The Lucid Dreaming community calls remembering dreams the act of “Dream Recall.”
There’s nothing quite as unsettling as waking in the morning with a vague feeling that you can’t pinpoint. It feels like you were just someplace special or doing something important. But now, the memory has slipped away. We like to think that our dreams are important. Many people feel they have a critical lesson that they need to learn to improve themselves and their lives. We all feel this from time to time. But how can we get these messages and learn these lessons if we don’t know how to remember dreams?
Improving Your Dream Recall
You can learn how to remember dreams by using a few simple techniques. Some may be more effective than others, and you should try several to find the ones that work best for you. You can do several things throughout the day and especially before you go to sleep.
Medications, drugs, and alcohol
Alcohol or sleeping pills may help you get to sleep, but the effect they have on your brain when you’re awake is the same effect they’ll have when you’re asleep. Some people have trouble remembering what happens to them during the time after the drugs or alcohol take effect on their system, so using either can conflict with learning how to remember dreams. If you use drugs or drink alcohol, use them moderately and responsibly.
Some medications may also make it more difficult to learn how to remember dreams. Especially those that slow the nervous system.
Be determined to remember your dreams
Remind yourself before you go to sleep that you not only want to remember your dreams but that you will recognize them! If this doesn’t work immediately, remember it takes time to learn how to remember your dreams. So, give it time. Keep insisting that you will remember your dreams and, eventually, you will.
Any efforts you make to change your thought patterns influences both your conscience and subconscious mind. By insisting you’ll remember your dreams every night, you’ll train your mind to remember more and delete less of your dream memories. You just need to condition it to do so. It takes practice, but it does work.
Before going to sleep, remember to write in your journal, “I will remember this dream in the morning.”
Take dream memory seriously
If you don’t take the process seriously, you can find yourself finished before you start. Remember, you need to condition your brain to change its thought patterns. If you don’t consider dreaming important consciously, your unconscious mind won’t consider it important either. Way down deep, you may believe that dreams are just the random firing of neurons. You may honestly think your dreams have no connection to your real existence. Even if you have some doubts about the relevance of your dreams, you should reserve judgment until you have given it a proper trial. You may astound yourself.
Take B-6 vitamins
Studies have shown that supplementing with B-6 vitamins aid people with dream recall. One such study, done in Australia, included 100 participants who were all taking high-dose vitamin B-6 before sleeping over a five-day period.
“Our results show that taking vitamin B-6 improved people’s ability to recall dreams compared to a placebo,” said Dr. Denholm Aspy, of the University of Adelaide’s School of Psychology who authored the study.
Don’t try too hard to reenter a dream
If you wake up in the middle of the night remembering a dream, it won’t help you to try to replay the same one by immediately going back to sleep. At least, not at first. Just focus on the feeling and allow it to invade your mind as you go back to sleep. Trying too hard to force yourself to remember details can disrupt the entire process. Eventually, you should get to the point where you can direct your dreams well enough to enter back into a dream. But you’ll need to gain proficiency with practice first.
Once you’ve mastered a few of the basic techniques, you can try to re-enter the scenario from which you’ve just awakened. One helpful method you can use is staying in the same sleeping position you were in when you woke up. This technique can help you improve your dream recall. It may help if you don’t move at all when you wake up and realize that you were dreaming. The more you ask your brain to do, the further it moves from the dream state.
Journal your dreams
Our brains are wired to differentiate between dream states and reality. If this didn’t happen, we’d have no way of knowing what was real and what was just a dream. Try to imagine what chaos that would generate in your life if you thought all your dreams were real! As part of this safeguard, your brain starts to erase your dreams as soon as you awaken. So, until you have conditioned yourself to retain your dream memories, writing them down as soon as you wake up gives you the best chance of remembering the details.
Keep a notebook or tape recorder near your bed so you can transcribe your dreams the moment you wake up. Make sure you write or record something every morning, even if it turns out to be just fragments of the dream.
Note down your feelings in the dream as well as the events and people involved. Use simple drawings to get these memories down. Anything that helps you remember will go a long way in conditioning your mind and learning how to remember dreams.
Do reality checks
It sounds complicated, but you’ll find it rather simple once you get the knack. Develop the habit checking to see if you’re awake or dreaming. To learn how to remember your dreams, you’ll have to program these reality checks in your mind when you’re awake. Get into the habit of stopping throughout the day and asking yourself if what you see and feel is real or imagined. Ask yourself if you’re awake or asleep.
Soon, you’ll start to do the same mental reality checks in your dreams. And, once you develop this habit, you’ll not only learn how to remember dreams better, you’ll also gain control over what happens in them. In dreams where you’re in some impossible situation, like flying, for example, your subconscious reality check will trigger the realization that you’re dreaming. Once you realize that you’re dreaming, you can start directing where the dream will go.
Get enough deep sleep
Most dreaming takes place in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase of sleep, which is the deepest level you can obtain. Getting enough deep sleep will help you keep to a regular sleep pattern and make your mind more trainable to remember your dreams. Develop a regular bedtime routine that allows your mind to adapt to falling to sleep. Don’t make your body clock work against the process. Learning how to remember dreams means learning new habits.
Or get less sleep
If you’re having trouble learning how to remember dreams, you can try something a bit more drastic. The more often you awaken during REM sleep, the more chances you’ll have to remember your dreams. With that in mind, you can set a timer to wake you several times during the night. Usually, waking every 90 minutes after the first few hours of good sleep will allow you to slip back into REM before the alarm goes off.
It seems to conflict with getting enough deep sleep, but if none of these other methods work successfully for you, it may be worth a try for one night. Choose a night when you don’t have anything on your schedule for the next day in case you need a nap.
Use dream anchors
You can use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to help remember your dreams. Choose something in the room that’s visible every morning when you wake up. Say to yourself, “I will remember my dreams whenever I see this object.” After a short time, you’ll realize that you remember more of your dreams when you see that triggering object.
Don’t open your eyes when you wake up
Opening your eyes helps turn on the dream-erasing process mentioned earlier. Seeing your bedroom and your things will trigger your mind to think about the day ahead. Your conscious mind will start focusing on reality instead. If you can resist the temptation to open your eyes, you can think about your dream. In that way, you can set the events and details more firmly in your mind. Then, open your eyes and immediately log the dream in your journal.
How Quickly Will You Learn How to Remember Dreams
It probably won’t happen immediately. Like anything else, you need to train your mind, and that takes practice and conditioning. As you practice, you’ll gain more control and get more proficient in remembering them more clearly and thoroughly. Most people don’t start off being able to remember dreams in detail, but almost anyone can become very good with practice.
Finally, Dream Direction
With enough practice and determination, most people find that they can not only remember their dreams but will soon be able to control the events and actions within their dreams. Consider the possibilities of wanting to dream of a particular place or event or time and developing enough control to make those dreams to happen in lucid detail. Dream direction takes much more practice and discipline than merely remembering your dreams but turns out to be possible with a little practice and a bit of skill.
Hopefully, these tips will start you on your way to learning how to remember dreams.