How to Keep a Dream Journal: Dream Journals Example, Tips, & Tricks

Do you have strange dreams at night? Are you always trying to find symbolism and meaning in your dreams? Do you have an interest in psychology?

Then keeping a dream journal might be for you!

What is a Dream Journal?

A dream journal is kind of like a diary.

However, instead of logging life experiences, thoughts, and goals, you record your dreams.

The intent of a dream journal is to be able to better remember your dreams each night before you forget.

After all, we only remember about 90% to 95% of our dreams from sheer memory.

For that reason, most people who keep a dream journal log their dreams shortly after waking up.

What Do You Write in a Dream Journal?

It’s apparent that dream journals are for logging dreams.

But what exactly do you write in these journals?

Consider the following ideas for inspiration:

  • A title for each dream
  • The date you had the dream
  • Bullets or paragraphs containing the time of day, place, and people
  • Details of what each dream was about
  • Your thoughts, feelings, and comments about the dreams
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 to 10) how interesting you found the dream
  • Whether or not the dream was recurring
  • An explanation of why you think you had the dream (e.g., you were thinking about the subject the day before)
  • Symbolism present in the dreams
  • Possible interpretations of the dreams based on psychology (i.e., what they could mean)

Keep in mind that you don’t have to include all of the previous information in each dream journal entry.

The latter items are only for reference and insight. A majority of these are completely optional.

You’re free to include any type of information about your dreams with as much or as little detail as you wish!

Should I Keep a Dream Journal?

Dream journaling isn’t for everyone.

Although it isn’t rocket science, some people might find it difficult to keep up with or even tedious.

But if you have an interest in keeping track of your dreams, it might be something you’ll enjoy.

Here are some other signs that you might be a good candidate to keep a dream journal:

  • You dream frequently, but it’s hard for you to recall your dreams.
  • You’re thinking about trying lucid dreaming.
  • You enjoy, or at least tolerate, writing.
  • You’re known for having strange or oddly enjoyable dreams.
  • The dreams you have tend to inspire you.
  • You have time every, or most, mornings to log your dreams.
  • You have no problems adapting to new daily routines.
  • You’d wish to learn more about yourself.
  • You simply want to try something new.

Benefits of Keeping a Dream Journal

Having a dream diary isn’t just for fun. It can also hold many benefits too!

You’ll Be More Likely to Remember Your Dreams.

Can you recall the dream you had last night? What about the night before that? Or even the night before that?

Probably not.

No matter how weird or exciting a dream may be, we tend to forget it shortly after we wake up in the morning.

For that reason, many of us presume that we don’t dream or that we rarely dream.

In reality, each of us dreams about a total of a month’s worth of time a year. Some of us just have difficulty recalling these dreams.

Fortunately, writing what happened in your dreams may help you recall them.

When starting a dream diary, people feel surprised to discover how many dreams they have.

Your Memory Will Improve Overall.

Being able to remember your dreams better is nice and all.

But did you know that writing them down can boost your memory in general? Absolutely!

Research shows that to better remember our dreams, we must improve our memory in our waking lives.

However, the reverse is also true. If we practice remembering our dreams, it can boost our memory in general.

In order to remember them in the first place, writing them down in a journal can substantially help.

The reason dream journals improve memory is because it “works out” our brains.

The more we aim to memorize something, the greater our memory will become.

Remember, if you don’t use it (in this case, the memory center of your brain), you’ll lose it.

You Can Search for Patterns in the Dreams You Have.

Patterns are everywhere we go. Even our dreams may have patterns.

Some of us have frequent recurring dreams.

Others of us may have healing dreams or even prophetic dreams from time to time.

And we may even dream of a certain place, person, event, or subject often.

It’s hard to know what a dream means unless we take note of them overtime.

Catching patterns can help us see how our mind works. It can also help us decide if our dreams have meaning or intent.

You Can Better Understand Yourself.

The dreams we have can teach us about our psyche and how we perceive ourselves.

For instance, if you frequently dream about being nude in public, you may feel vulnerable.

As another example, dreaming about getting cheated on may resemble a fear in your waking life.

Once you begin to write the dreams you have each night, you learn a lot about who you are.

Dreams can help you discover your fears, desires, flaws, and sources of happiness.

You’ll Become More Creative.

Are you lacking some creativity juice?

It turns out, logging your dreams can help with that!

According to Sleep Advisor, dreaming helps with problem-solving and working through mental blocks.

Dreams can also help us understand old experiences in a new way.

But how can we receive the benefit of creativity if we don’t remember what we dreamt about?

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep track of your dreams in a journal.

A new cognitive perceptive and a little creativity boost certainly never hurt anybody!

Do Dream Journals Help Lucid Dreaming?

Keeping a dream journal alone doesn’t give you the ability to lucid dream.

However, they can act as a guide.

Those who use a dream journal are more likely to actually experience lucid dreaming.

But how do these journals help with the experience?

For one, they boost your awareness of your dream state. This is a critical aspect of lucid dreaming.

In turn, writing regularly in a dream journal can help you wake up during the right moments during a dream.

Not only will you be more likely to lucid dream, but writing down dreams can help you lucid dream more often.

Also, journaling can help you experience a more vivid lucid dreaming state.

How Do You Keep a Journal?

Keeping a dream journal is very easy.

There are many ways to go about it, but here are some tips on getting started today:

  1. First, choose a medium for your journal. Some examples include a notebook, a notepad, a computer document, or a phone app.
  2. Decide how you want to organize each journal entry. They can contain a lot of detail and information or be very simple.
  3. Stick to a particular routine. When will you record your dreams? Every single night? Only when you had a rememberable dream?
  4. Have a way to remind yourself to record your dreams. This may be a sticky note next to your bed or even an alert on your phone.
  5. As you start to log things, don’t forget to reflect. Read back through your dream journal. Search for patterns, decode each dream, and learn about yourself.

Samples of Dream Journal Entries

Below are two different possible ways to write an entry in your journal.

They go to show that there is no right or wrong when it comes to journaling what goes on in your dream state!

Sample #1

Date: January 25, 2017

Title: Lost in School Once More

I had another recurring dream about being not being able to find my way on campus.

This is probably the fifth one in the past year or two.

I was back in high school, even though I’m halfway through college in my waking life.

I was the age I am now, but I wasn’t held back grade-wise. And all my friends were still going to school as well.

I went to check my phone for the time. It was 9:17 a.m.

Then, I went to pull out the class schedule from my backpack to see which class I had next. But it wasn’t there.

The time on the watch kept speeding up.

Then I had an epiphany: it’s time for gym class! That’s right.

So, I made my way to the gym. It took a long time to get to the other end of the campus. And the gym was harder to find than I thought.

The gym had too many doors and different room numbers. I couldn’t remember which one it was!

I went inside one anyway. Then halfway through class, I remembered that I was in the wrong class the entire time.

The second I began to panic, I woke up.

Possible Interpretations:

  • I feel lost in or unsure about an aspect of my waking life.
  • I’m confused about the post-high school educational route I chose.
  • My psyche never really “got over” the stress and anxieties of attending high school.
  • It’s a sign that my social anxiety is getting the best of me.
  • My dreaming state is teaching me to stop being afraid of asking for help.

Sample #2


Type of Dream: Nightmare; recurring

Emotions I Felt: Fear, confusion

Setting: High school campus (not my actual campus), modern times, daytime, sunny

Plot: I was unable to find my next class. I had no class schedule. The time kept moving quickly. I remembered it was time for gym class, but I had trouble finding the building.

I found the building but didn’t remember which door to enter. Then I chose a random classroom to go into, and it was the wrong one. I began to panic, and the dream was over.

Characters: Me, random people, teachers, a few people from my actual high school

Point of View: Third-person (outside my body; viewing myself from above) and first-person

Possible Reason(s) for the Dream: I was talking to a high school buddy a few days ago. I’m also feeling more stressed lately.