Journaling is good for your health in more ways than one – but what about a dream journal? Research into what our dreams mean has been contested by significant names in history such as Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Carl Jung (1875-1961) for centuries and, although in many ways we are no scientifically nearer the truth than before, keeping a dream journal can be good for your health.
The Benefits of Keeping A Dream Journal
Many people find it difficult to recall their dreams on waking. However, with a little bit of practice, it can become easier to recall your dreams. Dreams can be a chaotic mess when recalled in fragments and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any sense or order to our dreams. However, a few of the benefits of keeping a dream journal include:
- you might learn a little bit more about yourself
- good for your psychological and emotional health – dreams may help you to work through unprocessed material of your waking life and help you to come to terms with a situation. Psychologists believe that there is a scientific link between our minds and our behavior; dream journaling can give insight into our mind during sleep
- increases your creativity – several people have claimed that their idea for a book, song or other project came to them in a dream. Paul McCartney of The Beatles claims to heard the song Yesterday in a dream
- you might begin to notice a pattern in your dreams when, written down, begin to make more sense to you
- as with every day journaling, writing is therapeutic; studies have shown that journaling can increase emotional health which in turn leads to increased physical health and decrease in disabling conditions such as arthritis and asthma (source).
How to Keep a Dream Journal
There is no right or wrong way to keep a dream journal but the following tips might help you to get the most out of dream journaling:
- keep a pen and notepaper handy next to your bed so that you can begin to write down your dreams as soon as you wake up
- when you first wake up, lie still for a few minutes; this helps you recall more details of your dream before it starts to fade away
- write down as much detail as you can about the dream and then later assess the more important points of the dream; take special note of numbers, colors and events.
(source: The Complete Book of Dreams and Dreaming, Pamela Ball)
Types of Dreams
People experience different types of dreams. In 1953, the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep showed that this is the period of time when you experience the most vivid dreams; REM sleep showed a link between eye movement and the electrical activity of the brain. Dream recall and imagery was most accurate immediately after waking from this particular period of sleep (source: The Secret Language of Dreams, David Fontana).
Some people are also capable of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer is able to “control” what is going to happen in the dream. However, this type of dreaming takes practice.
How to Interpret Your Dream Journal
There are many different books written on the subject of dreams, including several dream dictionaries. Dream dictionaries interpret various images, numbers and colors that appear in your dream. However, meanings can vary from book to book and there is no scientific proof as to what each element of a dream means, only theories.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, you can still learn a lot from your dreams using a dream dictionary. You might begin to notice a pattern in your dreams, for example a specific color or event, that relates to your waking life. Or, it might help you to work through a particularly stressful period of your life, such as when coping with the death of a loved one.
Although science has barely touched the surface on the link between brain activity and the dream state, keeping a dream journal is therapeutic to your health. It might help you to work through various emotional and psychological problems, learn to be more creative, empty your head of “clutter” and help you to lead a more effective waking life. Dream journaling can be just as therapeutic as regular journaling – whether you get the answer to your dreams or not.
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