What Are the Benefits of Journaling Dreams?

Learn about the benefits of dream journaling. This practice helps you tap into your subconscious mind, sparks new ideas, helps you recognize patterns, and process emotions.


Are you plagued with bizarre dreams? Curious about what they are all about? Dreams can be strange things. But, according to psychologists, they are a reflection of what’s going on in your waking life. Dreams help you sort out things that have been bothering you, process experiences, and more. One of the best ways to figure out what your dreams mean is by keeping a dream journal. Tracking your dreams can help you work through issues and improve your overall well-being. Here’s how to start a dream journal and the benefits.

What Is Dream Journaling?

Dream journaling is the habit of recording your dreams every morning as soon as you wake up — while they are still fresh in your mind. Some people use a dream journal that features prompts to help them with this practice. Others use a dream journal app on their phone. The goal is to capture your dreams in as much detail as possible right when you wake up.

How Dream Journaling Can Benefit You

Keeping a dream journal can help you better remember your dreams. You can then begin to find connections between your dreams and waking life.

Helps You Tap Into Your Subconscious

Once you start your dream journal, you can gain a better understanding of your subconscious mind. These journals can help illuminate important motivations, emotions, and inspirations that you might be avoiding in your waking life.

Can Spark New Ideas

Keeping a dream journal can help you tap into your creativity. Scientists and artists have long gathered inspiration from the strange and mysterious qualities of their dreams. Your dreams can give you new ideas or novel ways of solving problems. They can initiate ideas for invention, art, and storytelling.

Reveals Patterns

If you record your dreams, you might start to notice patterns. Perhaps you have the same dreams or themes pretty often. Some dreams, like those where you are being chased or attacked, indicate challenges in your life that need to be addressed.

Can Help You Process Emotions

Research suggests that dreams can help you work through emotions like sadness, anxiety, and fear. When you pay attention to your dreams, it can help you better identify emotions that you are experiencing and process these during the waking day. It can also help you keep track of your emotional states. If you notice that you are experiencing negative emotions pretty often, this can alert you to the need for counseling.

How To Get Started With Dream Journaling

Are you new to dream journaling? The practice is very simple and easy to start. Here’s the step-by-step process.

Choose a Journal

There are many different types of sleep journals available — from the kind that you write in — to apps. Choose the type of journal that allows you to most easily record your dreams before they slip away for the day. Some people prefer old-fashioned pen and paper. While others aren’t big on writing things down and would rather use an app. You can try different formats if you’re not sure what works best for you. If you do use an app, make sure you turn your phone off before you go to bed so it doesn’t interrupt your sleep.

Journal As Soon as You Wake Up

Dreams tend to fade from memory very quickly. So, keep your journal right beside your bed. While you are still slightly groggy from sleep, and before you do anything else in the morning, write in your dream journal. Write in the present tense.

Write In Your Journal — Even If You Don’t Dream

If you don’t remember your dreams, still write in your journal. People often forget their dreams because they don’t deem them as important. Experts say that it’s possible to increase dream recall. Start by writing down your feelings and thoughts. Over time, this may help you start to remember your dreams.

Record Everything You Remember

Write down or record everything that you remember about your dream even if it is vague. Go into as much detail as possible, including what you were feeling or thinking during the dream.
If you remember more details of the dream later, record them no matter how trivial or small they seem. If your dreams are very visual, you can also draw pictures. Here are some questions to help you record your dreams:

  • Were you in the dream?
  • Who else was present?
  • How did the dream make you feel?
  • What do you think the dream means?

Give Each Dream a Title

Think of something very important about each dream and create a title based on that. This can help you later when you review your dream journal. It can also help you identify recurrent themes or dreams.
Go Through Your Dream Journal

It’s important to review your dream journal entries on a regular basis so that you can notice patterns. Revisiting dreams can help you reflect on them, begin to understand the possible meaning, and tie them to events going on in your waking life.

Pay Attention to Themes

The more you record your dreams, the more likely you are to notice certain patterns that keep repeating in your dream world. Take note of these themes so that you better understand your emotions and feelings, as well as challenges you may facing.

Dream Journaling Don’ts

  • Don’t journal in the middle of the night: If you wake from a nightmare in the middle of the night, don’t try to record it. This can disrupt your sleep, as turning on the lights or using electronics can interfere with melatonin production. Instead, wait until the morning to record your dream. If you forget most of it, just record what you do remember.
  • Don’t worry about grammar or spelling: Just focus on the dream content.

Dream journals are a great way to uncover things that might be bothering you in your daily life. Keeping a dream journal can help you tap into your subconscious. If you’ve never kept a dream journal before, now’s the perfect time to start!


Written by

Emily Mendez

Emily Mendez is a former therapist and mental health author. She is one of the leading voices in mental health. Emily's writing has appeared in eCounseling, SonderMind, and more. Emily is frequently interviewed by Healthline, Fatherly, INSIDER, Family Circle, and other national media for her advice and expert opinion on the latest mental health topics.

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