Make a Dream Journaling Hobby Into a Habit

Make sure your dream journal is ready for writing every night.

Your dream journaling hobby needs to be a habit.

When it’s a habit, it’s at its most powerful.

We spend one-third of the day sleeping or in bed. One-third of the day, every day, adds up to a long time.

That’s a lot of thinking/dreaming!

By making dream journaling into a habit, you’ll adopt a collection of behaviors that encourage good sleep and all of its benefits.

When something is a habit, there’s less of a willpower cost to doing it. That means it’s easier and easier is better.

The bedtime experience is different for everyone.

Hobby or not, bedtime is constant. It’s something you have to do, a place you have to go to. What that means depends on the particular person, their environment, and their particular stage of life.

For some, sleep is going to be a welcome refuge.

For others, when everything feels busy and hectic, sleep is going to be an unfortunate distraction.

Bedtime comes in at the intersection of many needs for everyone. You included. Some are going to sleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. Others are going to lay there for a while. Some are going to sleep lightly. Others, deeply.

Some are going to be recharging. They’re going to wake up refreshed. Others are going to feel like they didn’t rest at all.

Then there are the people who do other things in bed besides sleeping. Some are going to read. Some are going to have sex. Some are going to music. Others might watch TV or listen to a podcast. Some people might be eating and getting crumbs everywhere—some exercise in ways good and bad.

A lot of it will vary between people; a few things we’ll all have in common. It’s a matter of choice and what the person allows themselves to do.

A lot varies because of where you are in life, on the stage you’re at, where you are, where you go, what you do during the rest of the day.

The days are going to vary between themselves too.

Sometimes in life you find yourself on your friend’s sofa sleeping in their living room, their kids getting up early in the morning and traipsing around you way too early in the morning.

Other times you find yourself on vacation at a bed and breakfast in the country lulled awake by the smell of homemade sausage and cool mountain air.

Still, other times you might find yourself getting up for work at 05:00 after having driven eight hours and going to bed at midnight the night before, head pounding like a road construction crew breaking pavement.

It’s unreasonable to expect that with all of this variation, the ability to remember and interpret your dreams will be unaffected.

Don’t expect every day you wake up you’re going to have a dream report from the night before. How can you reasonably expect that when everything is constantly changing?

A habit, however, stands amidst changes.

Tell yourself you’re going to remember your dreams. Wear your memory aid. Keep your dream journal handy. Follow the System.

Competing priorities

Consciously or not, most people really want to keep life simple and do one or two things that they find to be the most important. Even if they can’t or don’t focus, they often want to. Yet when we focus too intensely on a certain goal, we can neglect the other things that are also important.

For example, I had a friend who debated whether to accept a temporary job in a place he didn’t know much about. The pay would be lucrative, and his company would have liked him to go because it would have helped them fulfill a contract. On the other hand, however, one of his personal goals was to work out and stay in shape. He liked to work out in gyms.

“Where is the closest gym?” he asked me. I knew the town.

I told him it was going to be a 35-mile drive one way.

That gave him something to think about. That’s not exactly convenient, and if he was going to accept the job, that could challenge his personal commitment to fitness.

Every time you change up your routine, it’s going to affect something.

The 35-mile drive wouldn’t have been an obstacle to working out on his day off, though it would have affected his ability to do so on the days he had to work.

Just as with physical fitness, the spiritual, emotional, and recovery fitness that comes from sleep and dreaming calls for keeping it in mind.

Life is a balancing act.

Dream journaling is a hobby and habit that’s part of that great act of balancing, one thing among many.

People are meant to be with others

Other people are part of that equation.

Getting in a relationship and sleeping with someone can affect your ability to recall your dreams. They might believe it’s weird to put a premium on it. They might not understand how it’s an alternate form of meditation or the benefits of meditation. They might not understand the harmony you want to keep in your home. Bringing someone like that is going to affect your ability to remember and understand your dreams.

Yet your life isn’t just dreams. He or she can be good for you in so many other ways.

Weigh competing priorities

Life rarely comes down to being all about one thing or another. The person you’re thinking of bringing into your life can grow. They might have never understood what the benefits of keeping a dream journal are. They might have never made an honest effort to try.

Sometimes people change.

So they affect your ability to recall your dreams. They can bring other things to the table, decorating your life in so many other ways.

A job where you’re on call in the middle of the night can be the same way.

Having a baby who wakes you in the middle of the night can affect your ability to remember your dreams too.

Fighting neighbors, gunshots, parties in the neighborhood, new puppies who yip all night, vacations, changing work schedules: there are a million things that can affect your ability to recall your dreams and use the Dream Recovery System for personal growth.

The important thing is to make it a habit even if you’re not successful with it every night. Some nights you will be, and your life will be primed and ready for the benefits for when you are.

Be flexible. Make dream journaling a part of your bedtime routine, a hobby and habit that’s one priority among many. You’ll see the benefits.

Further reading:

Dream journaling is the least expensive hobby you can have.


James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 


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