Recalling your dreams has many benefits. You can use dreams to inspire your artwork, get to know yourself better, solve difficult problems or answer tough questions, or just share them with friends. Keeping track of your dreams on a long-term basis lets you watch your growth and development over the years.
Dreams are like soap bubbles, however. The longer you wait to record them, the less chance that any will still be around to record. Sleep scientists estimate that most people have 150,000 dreams in a lifetime. While recalling and recording that many dreams is more information than anyone needs (remember poor Doug Quaid [Arnold Schwarzenegger] in "Total Recall"), keeping track of your longer, more elaborate, most interesting dreams is a gift you give yourself.
Use all your natural resources to help you recall your dreams. The combined efforts of body, mind, and spirit will make the task much easier.
The first thing to do is get a good night's sleep. Keep the room temperature at a moderate level and make sure your pillow and bed linens are clean and comfortable.
The longest REM (rapid eye movement) cycle comes towards morning when dreams are easiest to recall. You'll remember more dreams by waking naturally than by waking to a jarring alarm clock.
Keep materials for recording dreams at your bedside. Buy a special pen and notebook specifically designated for this purpose or a tape recorder used for nothing else. Record your dreams immediately upon awakening -- before you get out of bed and begin your day.
Tell yourself before you go to sleep that in the morning you will remember your dreams. Convince yourself that it's going to happen. Be satisfied with one dream at first; eventually with practice you'll be able to remember several dreams from each night.
Record dreams exactly as you remember them. Don't fill in the gaps with transitions, logic, summaries, or translations from your wide-awake conscious mind. If your dog is outside, then the scene shifts to your third grade teacher barking orders in the classroom, say so.
You don't want to take shortcuts in descriptions. The symbolism and figurative speech used in dreams is half the fun of dream recall.
Appreciate your dreams and show them some respect. Realize that not every dream is insightful, but that all dreams have something to offer, whether humor, creative inspiration, physical warnings, or unconscious perception.
Although dreams should be recorded without initial judgment or analysis based on the actions that occurred, give each dream a succinct title that expresses the emotions that you felt and/or identifies a key character. Don't be afraid of violent or sexual dreams from your unconscious mind that are inconsistent with your conscious mind. Write them down, title them, and read them later when you no longer feel the emotions of the dream.
Go back and re-read your dream diary or listen to your dream tapes in later months or years. You'll be amazed at what people, places, and things consumed your thoughts at the time, and at the creative inspiration lurking within your unconscious mind.