5 tips to remember your dreams tonight

Dreams are such a mystery. They come and go, night after night, with little to no recollection of their contents or significance. Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers what their dreams were about. What would happen if we started to remember the things we dream about? What experiences would we have? Would we learn more about ourselves, or would we simply open up another door to an exceedingly vast sphere of mystery? I guess you never know unless you try.

Here are 5 tips to remember your dreams more clearly tonight:

1. Sleep More

This may sound obvious, but there is research that backs it. On average, we dream 4-6 times each night. The y can be long or short, detailed or dull. The goal of dream recall is to remember more of the details to even the dull dreams.

 

After 8 hours of sleep, we often experience up to 45 minutes of dreaming. That’s why we often have long and detailed dreams right before we wake up. Our minds are most likely to have dreams when we enter REM(rapid eye movement sleep). In the last minutes before we wake up, our body has entered a very deep REM cycle that prompts some awesome dreams.

Most people don’t get 8 hours of sleep every night. I don’t either. But if you want to have more REM cycles, you need to sleep more. It’s that simple.

 

2. Wake up in the middle of the night

Set an alarm for 5 hours after you go to sleep. You’re first REM cycle typically starts 4.5 hours after you actually fall asleep — so you should have gotten a solid 30 minutes of quality dreaming in. When you wake up, immediately start recalling what you remember. Take note of images, colors, sounds — and especially dialogue. The more you intentionally recall your dream details, the better you train your brain to do it naturally. Researchers suggest it’s easier to remember a dream when we wake up directly from it. This means that more often than not, you’ll be waking up in the middle of the night.

I know what you’re thinking — that sounds achingly unattractive. Who wants to disrupt a good night sleep halfway through? I understand.

But if you are serious about digging into your subconscious and remembering your dreams, you’re going to have to get a little uncomfortable.

3. Write it down

I’m sure you’ve heard of a dream journal. Many people do it simply because they love journaling, and their dreams give them something to journal about. But the main purpose of writing down your dreams is so that you can refer back to it later. Referring back to past dreams could help produce some reoccurring ones. Dreams that replay over and over again — or have a recurring aspect — are easily identified by the dreamer, making them a key piece in recalling dreams.

Keep pen and paper next to your bed. When you wake up from a dream — either in the middle of the night or in the morning — write down everything you remember about that dream. And I mean EVERYTHING. Where were you? What were you doing? Who was there? Try to recall specifics and rebuild the dream again in your head and on paper.  You can even take it a step further and write down specific things from your dreams on your bathroom mirror, in your car, or on the ceiling above your bed.

If you want, you can work on your memory recalling skills by remembering things you did in the waking day. Write down what you ate for breakfast or what color your best friends lunchbox was. Recreate real-life situations on paper, and you will learn to do the same thing with your dreams.

 

4. Instruct your brain to remember your dreams

When you lie in bed at night, your brain is playing a slideshow of the day’s activities. It makes a note of everything you’ve gotten done during the day and puts more things on the to-do list. What you want to do is put ‘remember my dreams’ on the night’s to-do list.

It turns out that our subconscious minds are highly suggestive. While you are drifting off, repeat something like “I remember all my dreams” over and over again. Use the present tense — instead of saying something like “I recalled my dream yesterday” — because you’re trying to convince your mind to think a certain way.

What this does is send a command to your brain instructing it to remember the dreams you have. And while you won’t be consciously remembering, your subconscious will hear the command too and act accordingly. It sounds quite elementary, I know, but it works!

 

5. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before sleep

As you can guess, these depressants — or stimulants — restrain your body from entering REM sleep, the type of sleep where dreams occur most frequently. Alcohol can also suppress your memory which will obviously affect your dream recall. If you can avoid coffee or alcohol for the entire day, that would be ideal. But if you can’t go without and still want to remember some dreams, just make sure it’s been 8 or so hours since the last sip. For more on how coffee affects your dreams, check out my other post: How does caffeine affect dreams?

Remembering your dreams isn’t an easy task. That’s probably why you looked up how.

Try using all of these tips collectively and watch the dreams start flooding in like the Mill River:)

Also, make sure to comment and tell me how they worked for you!

 

How does caffeine affects dreams?

For all of those avid coffee drinkers out there, this question has probably come up. What effect, if any, does caffeine have on my dreams?

A good majority of coffee drinkers will tell you that caffeine produces no detrimental sleep problems; they have built up a tolerance to caffeine which allows them to drink it whenever they want, and still fall asleep without much trouble. But if we look deeper we will find some underlying effects.

Caffeine is known to increase the production of a hormone called cortisol. It’s often created by the body in high-risk situations because it enhances alertness/awareness. A person not in a stressful situation when producing extra cortisol will experience negative effects like stress and anxiety. Of course, the most popular example of a low-stress situation that we engage in all the time is sleeping. For a person attempting to sleep with high levels of cortisol, the best case scenario would be a very light sleep while the worst case would be the development of insomnia.

Studies show a decrease in the quality of sleep for those who drink coffee regularly —which is definitely the case for most.  But it doesn’t always mean they don’t sleep through the night. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can abstain your body from entering deeper stages of sleep. For example, a coffee drinker could fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night, but they might only be in a very light stage of sleep. So naturally, their 8 hours of rest might only feel like 5, and their body will feel extra tired during the day in order to revert back to normal sleep patterns.

 

But what does this have to do with dreams? Well, there is a stage of sleep where you are most likely to have dreams — especially ones you recall. This stage is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and, naturally, it’s the deepest stage of sleep. Coffee drinkers — and particularly those who drink coffee right before bed — have not given their bodies a chance to get rid of the stimulant which causes their body to stay in light stages of sleep. If the body can’t enter stage 3/Delta sleep, then it won’t be able to enter REM, thus causing dreams to be prevented.

For those who take a break from coffee for a few days, vivid dreams could occur because there is no longer a stimulant blocking their passageway into REM sleep.
Has coffee effected the way that you dream in any way?