Dream Journal - how to keep one the right way

Marvin Grocholl
April 25, 2022

The great Venetian merchant, explorer and writer Marco Polo kept a diary on his journey through Asia along the Silk Road, in which he recorded his many adventures and impressions. In the same way, you are the explorer of your subconscious, who embarks on countless adventures. The dream journal is your central place to record your dreams, to recall them and to deal with them. It strengthens your dream memory and offers you a gateway to your past adventures.

Functions of a dream journals

Dream recall

Do you remember what you were thinking about this morning when you brushed your teeth? Probably not. Our brain has a hard time remembering thoughts that are more akin to passive thinking. The same is true for dreams. Most of the time we remember the dream for a few seconds after waking up and think about it briefly, and just a few minutes later we can't remember it. Our memory is more specialized in thoughts and memories that we think about often or that have emotional significance - a problem, an appointment, a meeting. Sometimes our brain even blocks out dreams. The dream activity can sometimes be so real and intense that our brain actually hides or blocks out the dream. So in this case, our brain can help us forget so that we are better able to distinguish between our dream world and the real world. However, there are many reasons for wanting to remember one's dreams.

Many researchers believe that our subconscious mind processes our emotions and experiences in our dreams. If you become aware of this process, you have the opportunity to learn a lot from your dreams. Also interesting: Many lucid dreamers - people who gain consciousness in their dreams - increase their dream recall with a dream journal to strengthen their perception of dreams. This is because when you are engaged in your dreams, the likelihood of recognizing that you are dreaming in a dream increases. 

Dream interpretation

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We all know it: you dream about the same thing for the third time, or you dream about places you think you have never seen in your life and you wonder what these dream signs mean. There are many sites online that list dream signs and suggest what they can mean. However, caution should be exercised here.

Dream researchers pretty much agree that dream signs have different meanings for each person. Dreams are a highly subjective and unique experience that is difficult to standardize across people. Keeping a dream journal makes it easier for you to record your dream signs in the context of each dream and in your own context. You can then return to your dreams and look at your dream signs in the cross-dream context. This makes it easier for you to interpret what your subconscious may be trying to tell you. 

One way to think about your dreams is to look for patterns. Another way is to examine the salient elements of a dream. For example, the objects, environment, emotions, people, or actions in a dream. Ask yourself what these elements mean to you personally. Only you know what a dream or its metaphors might mean to you.

5 Tips to write your dream journal even more effectively

To get the most out of your dream journal, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here we will introduce you to the best way to keep your dream journal. In the following section, we will help you find the right type of dream journal based on this information. You'll be perfectly prepared and can theoretically start tonight. 

1. Write down your dreams right now

Experts say that people usually forget more than 50 percent of their dreams within five minutes of waking up. Within ten minutes, 90 percent are lost. That's why it's important to keep your dream journal next to your bed and write down your dreams right when you wake up.

When you have written down your dreams and read them again later, you usually remember the dream pictorially. If you are really good, you even write down your dreams when you wake up at night.

You dream on average 4 to 6 times per night. So the more dreams you write down in your dream journal and remember them, the more you increase your awareness of your dreams. 

2. Write in the present tense

Quite simply, writing down your dreams in the present tense (i.e., the present tense) helps your mind replay the experience and remember more details.

3. Read your previous enteries

As you collect more and more entries in your dream journal, you should go back and read the old entries from time to time. This will help you find patterns in your dreams and learn more about yourself.

4. Write something down every morning, even without remembering a dream

Writing in your dream journal every day will help you make a habit out of it. Lucid dreaming in particular is all about building the right habits. But what if you can't remember any dreams? 

Then write down your first thoughts and feelings that come to your mind after waking up. Thus, you solidify your habit of writing something in your dream journal in the morning and get into the habit of paying attention to what you dreamed. 

If you stick to it consistently every morning, you will probably soon be able to remember many dreams in great detail.

5. Keywords are better than nothing

Everyone has phases when there is a lot to do. Sometimes you don't have time to write down all your dreams in detail. Instead of skipping your dream journal entry, just add a few keywords that roughly describe your dream. Don't drive yourself crazy over this. If you feel like it, you can edit your dream later and add more details. If not, just continue with your entries the next day as usual. 

Types of dream journals

The best way to keep a dream journal is for you to find out for yourself. To make it easier for you to make a decision, we have listed the most proven options here.

Pen and paper

The classic. You simply put a notebook and a pen next to the bed. 

This method of keeping a dream journal has the advantage that you can also make small drawings next to your notes. Also, you don't have to look at a screen or have your cell phone by your bed if you're not the type. A disadvantage of this method is that a notebook can also get lost sometimes and then your dream records are lost as well. In addition, it also takes up quite a bit of space on your nightstand.

If you have the exemplary habit of writing down your dreams between dreams, you will probably need light at night. 

Write down digitally

Nowadays, most lucid dreamers use a digital dream diary on their smartphone. There are already some apps that allow you to record your dreams digitally. The WorldWithin app even offers the possibility to filter for certain dream signals. For example, if a certain person appears more often in your dreams, you can filter by this person and recall only the dreams related to this person.

This will make it easier to recognize certain patterns in relation to this person. Maybe all the dreams are quite loving, or maybe you are always being chased by this person? If you have the dreams at intervals, such patterns are harder to notice.

A filter makes this much easier. Additionally, your dreams are stored digitally. So should you lose your phone, you can recover the multitude of your dreams and insights. One disadvantage is the bright screen.

If you are someone who likes to spend certain times without a screen, writing on your phone for a long time may not be for you.

Voice recording

If you generally don't like writing, the third option is probably the best solution for you. In the WorldWithin app, you can simply record your dream via voice recording instead of text entries.

This way, there's hardly any screen contact and it's quite fast. Of course, the filters are omitted, but your dreams are recorded for the time being. Most of the time, you describe your dreams in more detail with voice recordings, which makes it more likely that you'll remember them when you listen to the recording again months later. 


There can be many reasons why you want to remember your dreams.

If this is your goal, the dream journal is your best chance to achieve it. The type of dream diary you choose depends on your preferences and sleeping habits. Here the question arises whether you prefer screen or paper, or text or voice recording. 

Basically, it counts to make a habit out of dealing with your dreams. If you write down your dreams or how you feel after waking up every morning, your ability to remember dreams will increase immeasurably. 

The insights can be life-changing and the wonderment of your own subconscious never diminishes. Happy dreams!