I’ve been keeping a dream journal for the greater part of the last six months. I now have a moleskine notebook almost filled to the brim with scribblings, pictures and writings, some of which I can understand, but all of which is fascinating to me.
I write dream recollections down in my sleep and review them the next night prior to sleep, so as to put the idea of dreaming in my head and hopefully remember more dreams. It’s worked. I now remember tons of dreams and I think my life has improved because of it. You might enjoy trying this experiment too; it’s both fun and enlightening and really has no negative side-effects as far as I can tell.
Start writing your dreams down, and you’ll find your ability to remember dreams steadily increasing. We have numerous dreams during each REM cycle, but forget most of them due to the fact that we’re sleeping. When you start writing your dreams down upon waking, you’ll begin to remember more and more.
This has been debated by psychologists for decades since there’s no way to come up with a concrete answer, but I’m of the opinion that dreams are experiences. Our memories are the accumulation of a lifetime’s worth of experiences. Remembered dreams become experiences; therefore, dreams are experiential. I like the idea of having extra experiences while I sleep.
The other night I dreamt I was an explorer on an expedition in some sort of bizarre desert filled with these ornate ancient sculptures and structures. It was ridiculously cool, and I wrote it down. I can now look back on that dream as being enjoyable. When I had it, I felt quite positive and was enthralled with the idea of exploring such an interesting place. The more dreams you write down, the more you remember, and the more potential you create for memories of fun dreams.
Freud believed dreams were expressions of wish-fulfillment, or that we dreamed about things we subconsciously wished would happen. Carl Jung believed some dreams were embodiments of a ‘collective unconscious’, reflecting all of humanity’s cumulative knowledge. These are intriguing theories, but they’re merely theoretical.
There are few concrete facts concerning the purpose of dreams, but it’s generally accepted that they aid the subconscious in processing thoughts as we sleep. The brain, like any other organ, continues working as we sleep. It needs something to do; dreaming is a reflection of your brain’s creative activity as you slumber. Appreciate it by keeping track of this activity rather than just forgetting about it.
If, like Freud said, dreams are expressions of wish-fulfillment, we could say they might aid us in making decisions. The old saying, “Maybe you should sleep on it,” is reflective of this. If you can remember a dream you have that’s pertinent to a current dilemma you’re facing in your life, it could help you figure out a solution.
Similarly, if you start remembering more dreams, you’ll approach them with a less naive attitude. Since I began keeping my dream journal, I’ve found nightmares to be more amusing. I used to occasionally wake up in a cold sweat, knowing I had a nightmare but not knowing what it was, just feeling horrified. Now, I remember my nightmares and can reflect on them instead of repressing them.
The entire Surrealist movement in art was a direct response to Sigmund Freud and his dream theories. Salvador Dali made paintings and films based on his dreams. Dreams are artistic experiences; they are examples of the mind in its unbridled, uninhibited creative state. Most of the time, you can’t regulate your own dreams. They just happen, and you reflect on them after. Keep a dream journal, and see if it can inform some sort of creative activity, whether it be writing, painting, music, or filmmaking.