How To Record A Dream When You Can’t Write In Your Journal Right Away

You might not have your lighted pen handy.

You might not have your dream journal available, and there’s nothing else to write on that’s available.

You might have a spouse or partner next to you in bed. Turning the bedside light on to write your dream down wouldn’t be kind, especially if they have something important to do the next day.

On the other hand, if you roll over and go back to sleep, you might forget the dream. With it, you’ll forget the insight that comes with it.

You need a plan to remember and record these dreams before they slip through the holey net that’s your memory.

Record the dream points if you can . . .

If you don’t have your dream journal available, use a notecard. Most dreams will fit on one or two notecards. These can be filed in your diary for recording later.

The mind doesn’t store the points of a dream well. It’s best to get the details jotted down so that you can get on to the next dream. It’s liberating, freeing the mind to have another dream. Many dreams have significantly important details. If you can jot the details down in your journal, you won’t find yourself scratching, trying to remember what letters and numbers were written on the side of the airship that was floating about.

Scribble them down in the dark if you have to. If you were running across a gully with your ex-girlfriend Jenny chased by Mr. Jones (the neighbor from across the street when you lived in Virginia). At the same time, bats and floating bean burritos spun like you were stuck in an arcade game, jot down the finer points so you can remember them when you’re more awake.


Mr. Jones


floating bean burritos


But if you can’t record the dream points right away. . .

Let’s say you’re traveling and didn’t bring your dream journal, or you’re in a place where you don’t want to share the book’s contents with those around you.

You’ve just had an elaborate dream. You’re likely to forget it.

How can you increase the chances that you remember the dream the points? 

Just as it is with learning, making connections with the information helps you remember the points of the dream. 

Use PACTREPS as a mnemonic to remember the dream’s details (people, animals, colors, modes of transport, whether the dream is recurring, emotion, plot, and setting and sound).

Of these points, the plot is handy for aiding the brain in remembering the dream. The plot involves a logical progression. This happened, and then that happened. The plot provides a structure.

You don’t necessarily have to analyze the dream as you’re separating the fine threads of the dream to help them make sense. That can wait until you start writing the details down. If the connotations are obvious, however, you might as well.

Practice makes perfect

Your recall of dreams probably won’t be perfect the first time you do this, and this may not ever work as well as making those quick notes onto the card or journal sitting on your nightstand. With practice, however, you will improve. By employing these tips, you can enjoy the benefits and insights of dreaming and dream journaling even if the conditions for recording them aren’t ideal. Plus, you’re more likely to keep the habit

For further reading:

Old dream journals may have the answer to your “Why?”

How to interpret dreams for yourself as easily as possible.

Clean and inspect your dreamlens every morning.

Is It Better To Voice Record Your Dream Or Write It Down?


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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