Night Writer: How Keeping a Dream Journal Benefits Your Waking Life

Night Writer: How Keeping a Dream Journal Benefits Your Waking Life

July 03, 2018


Waking up from a lovely dream can be an almost magical experience. You’re saturated in a state of well-being that’s so vivid, it’s almost hard to understand that it isn’t “real”. But with each waking second, the experience of the dream fades away. After a few minutes, it’s hard to even vaguely remember what it was all about.

That’s when a dream journal comes in handy. Capturing recollections of a dream as soon as you wake up in your cozy bed, even it’s in the middle of the night, helps you retain its details and allows you to actually process it. What was the dream really about? Where did it take place? Who was in it? Did it tell you something about yourself that you didn’t know?

Analyzing your dreams is a great way to gain better self-knowledge, but the benefits of dream journaling don’t stop there. Here are five compelling reasons to be a night writer.

It reduces stress

Allowing yourself a moment of quiet reflection can have a calming and restorative effect. Furthermore, writing down your dreams allows you to work through unprocessed issues in your waking life and come to terms with them. Psychologists believe that there’s a scientific link between our minds and our behavior; dream journaling can give insight into our mind during sleep. But that’s not all; studies show that journaling improves your overall physical health, strengthening the immune system and slowing down the aging process.

Two journals and pencils

It makes you more creative

Recording your dreams can help you become better acquainted with the most irrepressible parts of your brain and realize the untapped potential of your imagination, helping you generate new thoughts and ideas. As the authors of the MIT press article Sleep-Induced “Changes in Associative Memory” put it: “Dream recall can enhance our own unique brand of creative thinking, because when we’re dreaming, we all think more creatively."

It helps you remember an amazing idea

Don’t let a nighttime flash of brilliance slip away in the morning. Many iconic works of art were born in a dream. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster, for instance, was the product of an afternoon nap. In her own words: “My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind.” Another dream-induced masterpiece is the Beatles song “Yesterday”, whose jazz-inspired tune was playing in Paul McCartney’s head when he woke up one day.

Girl with eye mask laying in bed

It helps you solve problems

Dream journaling isn’t just about unleashing the powers of the creative right brain: It also engages the logical strengths of the left side of the brain. The sleeping mind can be likened to a computer that runs several programs at once, processing unconscious thoughts that are free of the habits and social norms that restricts our daytime thinking. A 2004 study from the University of Lübeck in Germany showed that students’ ability to solve complicated math problems greatly improved when they had eight hours of sleep after a failed first attempt. Writing down the fragmented impressions of dreams helps us capture some of our nocturnal out-of-the-box thinking and make connections between complex thoughts.

It helps you learn from mistakes

When you write down your dreams, you can go back and review them over time. This can help you see patterns in them, which in turn can help you spot behavioral patterns in your life. In that way, a dream journal can be an invaluable tool for understanding your true feelings and gaining perspective on matters that you didn’t see clearly at the time.

Dream journaling is not about collecting your thoughts in beautiful writing; it’s about capturing sporadic images and impressions that often won’t make sense. Because the more you recall and reflect on your reveries, the more sense they will make. Being connected to our dreams is one of the best ways we have to find a connection to our deeper, wiser selves.