How To Remember Dreams: 10 Tips on How To Improve Dream Recall

how to improve dream recall

Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman

Knowing how to improve dream recall on a nightly basis can add another layer of fulfillment to the experiences of life.

Our minds create wondrous lands of creativity and fantasy when we sleep every night that are tangible and real. The laws of physics are erased so that we can literally see or do anything.

Want to fly? Travel to different stars? Imagine what life would be if different decisions had been made? This can all happen.

These tips can help you to improve your dream recall so that you can remember every dream you have from now on.

#1. Make sure you have enough time for sleep 

how to remember dreams

This is the key to knowing how to improve dream recall.

You must be getting enough sleep every night in order for you to remember your dreams. Continual sleep deprivation makes the mind shut down non-critical components so it can restore the areas of functioning you need to use every day.

When compared to your heart beating or your lungs processing oxygen, remembering a dream just doesn’t compare.

Give yourself a minimum of 7 hours to sleep every night. You’ll want to include a 30-60 minute relaxation time before you plan on going to bed. Going to bed at the same time every night can also help to establish a pattern of rest.

Some people may need 9-10 hours of sleep before improving their dream recall.

If you’re just getting 4-6 hours of sleep nightly, you will struggle to remember your dreams.

If you do have a sleep debt, it can be erased by adding some extra sleep every night until your body catches up.

Then you’ll be able to remember your dreams more often because your mind is rested, restored, and happy.

#2. Encourage your mind to stay consciously active 

When researchers looked into why some people can recall almost all of their dreams while others could not, they discovered something interesting.

Those who tend to have high memory recall also see large dips in the alpha waves that their brains generated during a sleep cycle.

You have at least two different types of alpha waves that can be generated. The first is the one you’ll find discuss most often: relaxation waves.

When your eyes are closed and you’re relaxing, alpha waves are generated by the occipital lobe. These waves increase as a person relaxes, but is not fatigued enough to achieve sleep.  These do not have an impact on your dream recall.

The second type of alpha waves are different.

They occur in the central front portion of the mind and occur only during REM sleep. We don’t know why these particular alpha waves appear, but it is these waves that are reduced in people who have a high recall of their dreams.

This indicates that those who remember their dreams frequently tend to be in an alert state of consciousness more often.

Researchers found that those with reduced alpha wave levels awoke up to 30 minutes on average every night. In comparison, those with high levels of REM alpha waves only awoke at night an average of 14 minutes.

How can this be used to know how to remember dreams?

Try using recordings or music that utilizes your name. When people hear their name when sleeping, this naturally lowers the REM alpha waves.

In return, your mind reaches a state of consciousness where it can better remember the dream environments it created.

#3. Keep a journal by your bed 

is there a way to remember your dreams

How many times have you been awakened from a startling revelation in your dream?

You sit there, begging your mind to remember what happened as you drift off back to sleep. The only problem is that when you wake up in the morning later on, all you remember are the emotions from that dream.

You can change this by changing how you keep track of your dreams. If you wake up, quickly write down what you remember from your dream in a journal.

Keep the journal by your bed so you don’t have to completely wake yourself up to hunt down a paper and pen. This allows you to actively engage your memory centers so the memories within the mind are boosted to the conscious surface.

Don’t try to substitute notes on a tablet or smartphone for real writing. Although the mechanism is the same, the electronic screen time stimulates the mind and can make it difficult to go back to sleep.

#4. Focus on your nutrition 

how to control your dreams

Sometimes the reason why we don’t remember the dreams we have every night is because they’re dull and boring. Our minds literally reject the dream because it isn’t interesting or engaging.

By focusing on your nutritional health, you can limit these boring dreams.

Vitamin B6 is the most important component to consider adding to your diet, either through eating choices or through supplements. This vitamin has been shown through multiple studies to encourage a deeper vividness and promote better recall.

Why does this vitamin work? Vitamin B6, which is also called pyridoxine, helps our bodies be able to make two chemicals: norepinephrine and serotonin.

It also helps to form the myelin protein layers that protect our nerves. More pyridoxine means more sleep trigger chemicals.

That’s why adding this vitamin is a needed step in the right direction if you want to know how to improve dream recall.

The best thing you can eat is rice bran to naturally improve B6 levels. It contains 4x the amount of this vitamin than any other food choice.

Pistachios, tuna, and beef liver are also good eating choices that provide at least 50% of a daily recommended value.

#5. Don’t start your day right away 

The best time to remember a dream is the moment that we first wake up in the morning. There is a 90 second window where the mind attempts to establish itself in relation to its surroundings.

As it does this, any dreams you may have had can become permanent memories.

Far too often we just roll out of bed and start our day instead of giving our minds the chance to transition from sleep to wakefulness. Will delaying your morning routine by 90 seconds ruin your day?

To take advantage of this transition so that memory recall is encouraged, do your best not to move after waking up. Just let the automatic functions of your body work.

Any muscle movement changes the transition so that current events instead of dream events become the focus of the mind.

Stay in the position you find yourself when waking up. Keep your eyes closed if you can. You may just find that the dreams you had the night before become wonderful memories.

#6. Drink some water before you go to bed 

how to dream more often

If you’re finding it difficult to wake up at night, even if you’ve tried reducing REM alpha waves, then you need to encourage your body to do it for you.

The urge to go to the bathroom is a strong enough urge to wake most people up from any stage of sleep. By drinking water right before bed, you will encourage your body to wake up and remember the dream.

It can be difficult to find the right balance here. You don’t want to drink so much water that you wake up before reaching the REM sleep stage, but not drink so little that you don’t wake up at all.

Start with 4 ounces of water before you go to bed. Consume the water during your 30-60 minute relaxation period because water can stimulate the body, making it difficult to sleep.

If that doesn’t work to improve dream recall, then increase by 2 ounces each night until you do reach a level that wakes you up at night.

You’ll also want to keep a journal close so you can write down your dreams immediately.

The muscle movement required to make it to the bathroom can make dream memories go away quickly. You may also want to consider keeping a journal in the bathroom so you can jot down memories as they come to you.

#7. Turn your dreams into stories 

We are conditioned to remember stories more than we remember generic facts. Even with our real-life memories, what we recall most often are the stories of an experience rather than the tangible sensations that happened.

If you want to know how to improve dream recall, then start thinking of your dreams as a story that deserves to be told.

What draws people to an engaging story? A title that is inviting.

By giving your dreams an actual title, you’re creating a formal story that the mind will want to tell. This helps to improve dream recall because it creates excitement about the experience.

When you think of the title of your dream, you’ll begin to remember specific details about it. Keep expanding on those details with conscious thoughts and you’ll remember some amazing things.

#8. Keep your journal in pictures instead of words 

The expression that a “picture is worth a 1,000 words” can be very true. Some people are gifted with their use of language and can create flowing pictures through words.

Images can do the same thing. If you aren’t keen on writing down memories, trying drawing a key image from your dream instead.

Just as words can jostle a memory, these dream images in a journal can do the same thing. Your mind will go back to that point in the dream and you can go backwards or forwards in your dream timeline from there.

If more images come to you, then draw them as well.

You don’t have to create a gallery-quality work of art for this technique to work. As long as the image is reflective of your memory, then it will become a trigger to help you remember the dream.

#9. Eliminate any stress or anger you’re taking with you to bed 

how to lucid dream in one night

Sometimes the reason why we don’t remember our dreams is because our minds are preoccupied with other issues.

Stress and anger can stop the mind from remembering dreams because it is using that dream time to cope with those issues. 

It’s problem-solving. That’s not a bad thing, but it also means you won’t remember any dreams you had during that time. 

If you’ve tried these other tips and they haven’t worked, then there could be hidden stresses or emotional triggers that need to be resolved.

There are a number of ways that you can begin this process,  but meditation is by far the fastest and most effective tool to use. 

Meditation helps the mind be able to find and label thoughts. You can literally “see” these thoughts in your mind and understand their significance.

Some thoughts are going to be difficult to see. Once they are seen and understood, the stress and anger will be released so the mind can focus on the dream. 

It is important that you cope with these emotions or stressful events instead of distracting yourself from them. Listening to music or watching TV can be relaxing, but the instant you stop these things, the bothersome thoughts and feelings return. 

Instead of running away from these things, turn around and confront them. It could be your ticket to knowing how to remember your dreams.

#10. Keep trying 

It can be easy to give up after a few days of trying to improve dream recall without success. Keep trying.

It can take up to 3 weeks to establish new habits. If you keep trying, one day you will notice that you are remembering your dreams more often.

In Conclusion 

If you want to know how to improve dream recall, then use these tips at your discretion.

We all dream every night, but the purpose of those dreams can be very different.

By making the decision right now to begin remembering these dreams in more detail, we can get a little closer to the dreams our minds create every night.

Read next:

1. 14 Powerful Ways to Achieve Your Dreams

2. Best Books on Lucid Dreaming

3. How to Manifest Your Dreams Into Reality

4. Quotes About Dreams and Hopes

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I'm interested in psychology & philosophy. I'm also an enthusiast of meditation & personal development. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you'll find something interesting here.


9 thoughts on “How To Remember Dreams: 10 Tips on How To Improve Dream Recall”

  1. My ex-wife would have funny dreams and wake herself up laughing. I’ve never known anyone else who did this.

    In the 80’s I experimented with Lucid Dreaming and learned to fly in my dreams. It was so much fun, I found myself looking forward to bedtime.

    I appreciate how in your article “How to Remember Dreams: 10 Tips on How to Improve Dreaming Recall” you mention that it’s important to get enough sleep and how essential good nutrition is.

    We have to be healthy, rested and properly nourished if we want to reach our full potential, even in our dreams.

    • Hey, I also never met anybody who was waking up and laughing … and lucid dreaming is great. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this awesome and way informative article post Luke! The type of mind state where you are more conscious can be really be scary especially when its your first time having sleep paralysis or astral projection.

    Remembering your dream can really be a challenge and almost impossible thing to do especially when you smoke a lot. I definitely recommend this article to anybody who is having a touch time figuring out how to condition your body to a state where it will be much much easy to remember a dream and maybe even experience an OBE ,hence write a story about your dream, Thanks again Luke!

  3. Hey Luke, I am deeply interested in dreams as they are a peak into our own subconscious mind and beliefs but just like everyone else find it hard to sometimes remember them. Your tips are very useful I am going to give a shot to keeping a journal by my bed to write down the dreams that I have right away. I am sure it will work, much thanks!

  4. Hey Luke, awesome post!

    I have always had very vivid dreams. Every night is yet another adventure. Last night I was in some mountain country. There were stunning panoramas and lots of wildlife. I was making videos of a family of foxes playing together. And an elk crossed the road in front of my car.

    The only drawback is that I have problems waking up… My dreams are far more interesting and fun than the reality. Any advice on this?

  5. I found this post very interesting. Sometimes, I have a really good dream and when I wake up, I can’t seem to remember anything, and this frustrates me. I’m glad I came across this article. As a musician, I like to make reference to my dreams so I most definitely need to work on my ability to recall my dreams.

  6. Very interesting post. I keep a journal by my bed so I can write down about my dreams. I also would try and interpret them. Sometimes I can only remember part of a dream but I still write it down. I figure my unconscious must know what is going on even if I don’t.

    • I’m also having problems with remembering my dreams. It’s important to write them down before you get out of the bed and start doing something.

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