What Is a Dream Journal and How to Start One?

Everybody knows what a journal is, but what is a dream journal? As the name suggests, it is a journal where you record your dream experiences. It can include simple recollections of your dreams, but also personal reflections and thoughts about those dreams, drawings, and details about your sleep. Keeping a dream journal is the easiest way to learn to remember your dreams, but it will also help you improve your memory and work your way towards lucid dreaming.

Dreams are a great opportunity for your subconscious to try to deal with the problems you encountered during the day. It is often your brain manages to solve puzzles or problems your conscious mind was not able to, so if you can remember your dream, you have the solution. Here is where a dream journal comes into play: it can help you learn to remember your dreams!

How to Start Your Dream Journal

Journal and pen

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Most people don’t remember their dreams, or they recall small fragments of them. This is perfectly normal when you start, so don’t be discouraged by the fact that you don’t even know where to start when beginning your dream journal. It takes some time and practice to train your brain to recall dreams, but don’t worry, keep writing and things will improve.

The best time to do this is right after waking up. You are able to recall a lot more about your dream right after waking up. Start writing whatever you can remember about the dreams you had, be it a color, a smell, a sensation, a sound, etc. Quite often you will notice that as you write, other bits and pieces will pop up.

Don’t judge – dreams are often expressing things you were not able to do in the real-life, due to moral or social constraints. Don’t worry, they are not there to symbolize your inner demon or anything like that. Try to focus on recalling and simply noting down what you dreamed about, including possible emotions and thoughts you had while dreaming, without judging.

What Kind of Journal Should You Use

Depending on your personal preferences, you can choose between a classic journal notebook or a phone app. Some find it better to actually write on a paper – if this is you, just put the notebook and a pen next to your bed, so you have them handy when you wake up.

I prefer an app for this. There are many apps for this – what I find important is to have reminders (it will help a lot especially at the beginning), tags, titles for each dream, and perhaps ways to mark dreams as repeating, nightmares or lucid dreams.

If you use the phone for this, and you find it easier, you can record your voice talking about the dream. It can help not to look at a screen right after waking up, but you will have to transcribe the notes later in the day.


Everybody dreams. Even if you don’t remember your dreams, it is very unlikely you actually had no dreams. The average person has three to five dreams per night, each typically lasting between five and twenty minutes 1)Dream. This means we spend around one hour (some up to two hours) every night dreaming. This sums up to more than two weeks per year, so I want to make the most of that time and not consider it lost. This is why I think it is important to pay attention to my dreams, do my best to remember them, and use that information.



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