The Acronym PACTREPS Can Help You Remember Dream Details

It’s common for people to have dreams and forget about what happened, especially when the dreams aren’t too vivid.

This is a shame because dreams can help you understand yourself, others, and even things you’re supposed to know for work and school.

When you’re sleeping, often you’re dreaming. When you’re sleeping, your brain is processing information. Dreaming and the processing of data is interrelated.

You can get many more details about your dreams if you have a system that helps you uncover the facts. This acronym is that system.

If you doubt the ability of dream interpretation to impact your life, knowing and applying this positively may remove those doubts.

The heart of the Dream Recovery System is PACTREPS. This is the big “secret.” If you memorize the PACTREPS acronym and apply it,  your ability to recollect the details from your dreams should skyrocket.

Copy this acronym at the front of your dream journal. Then write what each letter stands for, and commit it to memory.

You can also use the acronym to refresh your memory after you’ve had the dream. It’s better to work on memorizing it, however.


P = People — Were there any people in the dream? Did they do anything?

A = Animals — Were any animals prominently featured?

C = Colors — Were there any colors that stood out?

T = Modes of Transport — Was a journey involved?

R = Recurring — Did you ever have this dream or a similar one before?

E = Emotion — How did the dream make you feel emotional?

P = Plot — Was there a plot to the dream? It’s okay if it doesn’t make sense.

S = Setting & Sound — Where did the dream take place? Were there any sounds or songs playing?

This acronym isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of every possible thing that could occur to you in a dream. It doesn’t have to be to work. An acronym for doing that would be unwieldy. Its purpose is to jog your memory. It works because it gives a framework to your recollections.

When you have the details in mind, you can proceed to use the best system for recording your dreams in your dream journal (go on, click the links, they’re free. It’s a public service).

You may not have dreams every night, but when you do, you’ll be ready to recall.


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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