Everyone dreams. The average person dreams 3-5 times every night. You experience dreams whenever you enter REM sleep. The real trick is to learn to recall your dreams upon waking up. Methods like encouraging your brain to remember dreaming, drowning out sensory input in the morning, and journaling about your dreams can all help you remember your dreams in more detail.
Decide you are going to remember your dreams.
Some people just have more trouble remembering them than other people. If you’re one of those people, it can help to tell yourself you’re going to remember it before you go to sleep. It may seem silly, but this conscious step can help signal your mind to remember.
It may take a few weeks for this process to work.
In fact, you likely dream an average of 5 times a night if you’re getting your recommended 8 hours of sleep.
Skip the alarm clock.
When possible, skip the alarm clock. If you want to remember your dream, you need to wake up after REM sleep. An alarm clock can interrupt your sleep cycle at the wrong time. In addition, if you move or hear noise, it can cause your dream to disappear. When you hear the alarm clock, it’s loud, and you probably lean over to turn it off immediately. Skipping the alarm clock allows you to wake up more gradually and without the added sensory input.
Avoid sleeping pills.
People who don’t sleep as soundly remember more dreams. That’s because they naturally wake up multiple times per night, often when they are coming out of a sleep cycle. If you take a pill to sleep soundly, you might skip it a few nights to see if it helps you remember your dreams.
Always ask your doctor before skipping a medication, especially if it’s a prescription.
Drink large amounts of water.
Another way to help you remember your dreams is to guzzle water before you go to bed, about 4 glasses. The reason this step can help you remember your dreams is because your full bladder will interrupt your sleep multiple times throughout the night, often right when you’re coming out of REM sleep. Since you’re waking after REM sleep, you’re more likely to remember what you dreamed.
Skip the alcohol.
Alcohol tends to deter dreaming because it tends to suppress REM sleep. Therefore, to increase your dreams, you should avoid alcohol, especially at night.
Antidepressants can also have the same effect, but you should talk to your doctor about the fact that you’re not dreaming if you want to change or go off your antidepressant. Don’t go off your antidepressants without talking to your doctor first.
Lose a little sleep.
While getting enough sleep is always best, studies have shown that losing sleep can help you remember your dreams. In fact, you go through a rebound process when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, meaning that your dreams will be more intense.
Try different foods or supplements.
Some people have luck focusing on certain foods to increase their dreams. For instance, taking 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 an hour or two before bed could help increase the intensity of your dreams. Another option is eating foods rich in tryptophan, such as chicken, soybeans, turkey, and tuna.
Instead of tryptophan-rich foods, try taking a 5-HTP supplement a couple of hours before bed.
Get a book just for your dreams.
It’s easy to have one notebook for many purposes, but when it comes to your dreams, it’s best to devote a single book to it. Mostly, the reasoning is that if you have one notebook for dreams, you won’t be tempted to pick it up and move it somewhere else. Pick something that you really like, that inspires your creativity, as it can also inspire your dreams.
Recording your dreams helps you remember more dreams, making it seem like you are dreaming more.
In fact, some theories suggest that your brain doesn’t store all of its dreams to memory simply because so many dreams would cause you to have trouble distinguishing reality from dreams. Other theories suggest that your brain stores the memory of the dream, but they are not readily accessible to memory.
Most people forget many of their dreams because they keep on sleeping. That is, you have to wake up to remember your dream, so you likely will only remember your dreams near the times you are awake, such as in the morning. However, you may not even remember those because you move on with your day too quickly.
Keep a notebook handy.
Have a notebook right beside your bed so it is available when you wake up. You’ll want it to be instantly on hand the moment you open your eyes, as dreams are fleeting.
Take a moment to think.
When you wake up, don’t move. Take just a moment to think about what you were dreaming. Once you have a clear image of your dream in your mind, move on to the next step.
Write your dream as soon as you’ve solidified it.
It may be tempting to run to the bathroom first before writing about your dream, but by then, your dream may be gone. Start jotting down the main images of your dreams as soon as you open your eyes, and reach for your pen and notebook.
Include the main details, such as who was in it, what major things you saw, and what the main action was.
If you wake in the middle of the night after having a dream, write down the details of your dream in the notebook before falling back asleep.
Record anything that was said.
If anybody said anything in your dream, take a moment to write it down. What was said could be important to interpreting your dream, if you are inclined to do so.
Once you get the main part of the dream down, try filling in the details. Add in as many details as you can remember, from the time of year to the memories it brought up for you.
Add notes about emotion.
What you’re feeling when you wake up is an important part of the dream. Write down a few notes about your current emotions along with the details of your dream.
Use a voice recorder.
If you don’t enjoy writing, you can record your dream on your phone or some other recording device. Just make sure you have the application open so you can easily access it in the morning.
As with written dream journals, you should record as much information as possible and do so as soon as possible. If you cannot remember a dream in full detail, talk about general impressions, images, and feelings that you do recall. You may even begin to remember more as you begin talking about your dream.
Try drawing it.
Another way to capture a dream is to make a drawing of it in your journal. Because dreams are driven by images, it may be easier for you to draw than to write it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an artist. You just need to get the images down on paper.