You spend approximately 10 years of your life asleep for every 30 years of life. I need about 10 hours of sleep a night, which means I will spend more of my life sleeping and dreaming than the majority. Your dreams have access to far more information than your limited waking mind. Why not use the wisdom of your sleep to make your life more of what you want it to be?
There are many tips and tricks for bringing your dream memories back to waking consciousness. Below you will find more than 14 of the tricks in my tool bag for clearing the fog and creating stronger bridges between your two realities.
1. You must love your dreams
Love and cherish the ingenuity of these night time adventures. When you do, their memories will come back with you to waking consciousness far more willingly. Look at it this way. You probably choose to spend time with people who like and appreciate you, while avoiding those who don’t. So, why would your dreams want to spend time with you, if you don’t like or appreciate them?
2. Are you getting enough sleep?
Not allowing your body and mind to get enough sleep is a sure fire way to eliminate dream recall. In fact, not remembering your dreams may actually be a symptom that your body is not getting the quality and quantity of sleep it needs for proper function.
Many years ago a friend told me “when I sleep too much, I remember my dreams”. I thought that was interesting. For him personally, remembering his dreams was a sort of reprimand for spending too much time sleeping. My opinion was very different. I thought his remembering dreams was an indication his body, mind, heart and spirit were finally getting enough sleep to pierce the veil between the two realities.
3. As you drift off to sleep make sure to ask your dreams to come back with you
One day I heard Patricia Fripp, who is a professional public speaking coach say “The answer is NO if you don’t ask”. Ask your dreams to come back with you when you wake up. This tells your dreams that not only are they are welcome, but they are desired.
4. Commit to remembering your dreams
You will not remember the dreams you had in the middle of the night unless you record key words or the storyline. I once heard someone say “Dreams are as fragile as a snowflake”. Having your preferred dream recording tools where you will be when you wake up communicates to your whole person that you are ready, waiting and eager to remember whatever dream memories come back with you. Being prepared is an act of commitment.
Your tools maybe a pen and paper, pen light, clip board or maybe an audio recorder. If you have various nesting sites around your house then keep a set of dream recording tools at each location. The easier and more sense it makes for you, the more likely you are to follow through with it.
5. Is where you sleep the source of the problem?
My dream content and recall are greatly affected by the space where I am sleeping. You are probably just as sensitive to your own sleep environment as everyone else is. Take a moment to look around your bedroom and sleeping environment. Is there anything that bothers you, makes you ill-at-ease, jolts your emotions or touches your spirit in a way that is uncomfortable? You don’t have to know why, nor do you have to explain it, but it may be disturbing your sleep, dream content and dream recall.
A few ideas to consider include:
♥ Are your bed linens cotton or synthetic? Can your skin breathe as it needs to?
♣ Does the room you sleep in need better air circulation from something as simple as a fan?
♦ Is the orientation of your bed to your body’s liking?
♠ Do you like your bed and the bed frame? Or do they make noise with the slightest of movements or do you unconsciously feel trapped or enclosed when you are on your bed?
♥ If you share your bed with a partner, then try sleeping alone for a week or two.
♣ Are your washing detergents “Free & Clear” or are chemical detergent residues upsetting your body?
♦ Take a look at your bedroom. Is there something in the room that is personally disturbing or possibly inappropriate? A simple painting, a picture, mirror(s), object or photo that doesn’t resonate with you could be the problem. Remove the item(s) for a couple weeks and see what happens.
One of my teachers began having many problems sleeping and didn’t know why. He tried everything and nothing was helping. He called and had many friends come over and look around. Each and every one of them zeroed in on the rocks that he had recently placed under his bed. He thought they were all a bit nuts for suggesting that his beloved rocks were the problem, but since each friend said the same thing he decided he would remove them. He did and that same night his sleep, body function and dreams returned to normal. To this day he is still perplexed by that, but has a great appreciation now for how an energetic disturbance will traumatize the sleeping self.
My ex-husband and one of my boyfriends were tough bed partners. It was very difficult to sleep well and dream actively while sleeping next to them because of their snoring, on-call work requirements, sleep walking and my need to be partially alert while sleeping to avoid one of their flailing arms or legs. And on certain nights, their poor food choices and food digestion would transform the bedroom into an unpleasant gas chamber.
Sleeping environments have a huge impact on the content, activity and recall of dreams. As soon as you fall asleep your brain activity disconnects from voluntary muscle activity in the body. This means your body isn’t moving when you are sleeping or dreaming. However, in some people this circuitry doesn’t work properly. The familiar name for this is sleep walking, and is now called “REM sleep disorder” among some professionals. Individuals who have “REM sleep disorder” will physically live out the dream they are having while they are having the dream and sleeping.
I had a most interesting relationship with a really wonderful man whose body chemistry would shift when he was pushed beyond his limits in too many areas of his life. I came to learn this about him only the first time it happened.
We were visiting and staying in his parent’s home for a long 4 day weekend. I woke up to the voice of my boyfriend who was narrating his struggle to locate the electrical outlet, so he could finish cleaning. I could hear the concern and stress in his voice. The room was very dark and it was a new environment for me so I didn’t have my bearings on the layout. I did however see the red numbers on the digital clock (that is how long ago this happened) and noticed it was close to 3am. I was completely baffled, still half asleep and I was having a tough time understanding what was going on. I continued to listen to him as my vision adjusted to the darkness. Then suddenly he announced with great pride “I found it”. He then proceeded to vacuum the room with my suitcase. I couldn’t help but laugh because it was such a wacky situation. It felt like a Hitchcock movie.
While you may think my laughter was inappropriate it actually turned out to be the perfect remedy. My laugh, which was something he actually adored about me, gently brought him out of his sleep walking cleaning spree. As he stood there vacuuming with my suitcase when he woke up, he still had the whole dream in his awareness. At that point, he was forced to explain that he had a history of sleepwalking at times of inner conflict and stress. He quickly made the association with this cleaning dream to his worry that I would end our relationship because of his housekeeping skills.
Both inner and outer personal environments have a great impact on dream content, activity and recall. Take a very close gentle look around your sleeping space. Make adjustments and see what happens. Trust your hunches and gut instinct to guide you to the changes that need to be tried. These are rooted in your unconscious knowing which is the same space your dreams are born.
6. A gentle wake-up is less likely to scare the dream away
Make waking up a Zen moment. Resist the urge to leap out of bed, grab your coffee, jump in the shower or look at your cell phone. Each of these will completely and immediately slam the door between your dream and the memory of it. A few more minutes to wake up in the morning can make the difference between having the memory or not.
The best alarm is one that is gentle, yet effective. There are many options to choose from now including aromatherapy, gradually increasing lights, wristbands that vibrate or even choosing a more relaxing sound for your alarm.
7. Don’t be picky, take every and any impression or fragment that is there
You may not have a dream, but if you pay closer attention you may notice details that are even more valuable. A single snapshot image. A sentence or a word. A sensation. A smell. A feeling. Maybe an impression that you were outside alone in a country field in springtime or with a friendly dog in the city. You may have a feeling, body impression or a strong emotion. Or maybe the thoughts in your mind are about a place, person or event that is totally irrelevant to your present life at this time.
Don’t discard anything. Thank those fragments for being present and thank yourself for taking a moment to recognize them.
You may also notice something during the day jars a dream fragment in your memory. Hold that image or knowing for a moment because something more may come. Then jot down what you remember because it can vanish as easily as it appeared.
8. Dreams become a part of your body in the same way that life experiences do
You have probably noticed on some mornings you literally rise and shine with high energy, while other days you wake up cranky or in a bad mood for reasons that totally elude you. Do you realize these are very likely the “side-effects” of the dreams you had during the night?
Dreams are mental, emotional and spiritual adventures. Each dream is having a big influence on your body function, chemistry and hormones which ultimately affects your thoughts, moods and behaviors. Sleep research has even made a link between chronic depression for individuals who spend too much time in REM sleep.
There is no need for me to argue these points. Simply revisit your own dream memories and how they influenced your own body. Your last nightmare may have left you short of breath, heart racing, sweating and adrenaline pumping. Intense longing or grief and loss can have a person waking up with tears flowing from their eyes. Or what about those sensual sexual experiences that encouraged your body to experience a real physical orgasm. I have had people share dreams they had 40 years earlier and their body response when they tell me is just as intense as it was the day they had the dream. Dreams are very intricately weaved into your physical body.
Even if you don’t remember your dreams last night your body, thoughts, emotions and behaviors will be in a sort of post response to what happened. When you rise and shine happy as a clam, then your dreams were probably magical. When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed grumpy then your dreams may have been a bit more personally challenging.
Upon waking, ask yourself:
How is my body feeling? How do I feel?
What kind of dream would that type of feeling come from?
9. Stay peaceful, quiet and motionless upon waking
Dreams are often encoded in the body position you were in when you had the dream. Staying peacefully motionless in the same position can allow that dream memory to join you very easily. Give yourself permission to zone out and tune in to whatever may come as you lay there quietly in the same position you were in when you were asleep.
If nothing comes after 3 or 4 minutes than I invite you to revisit your other preferred sleeping positions, one at a time. Zone out and tune in for a few minutes in each position and take whatever fragments, impressions, images, words or sounds that may come to you.
A word of warning: Be sure to have two alarms set each morning. The first alarm to wake you and the second alarm to wake you if you fall back asleep or reenter your dream.
10. Do you dream non-stop at times, but not at all at others?
When a person dreams a lot or not at all then something is different. What is it? Take some time or a lot of time to figure it out. Radical shifts in dream recall are asking and wanting to be noticed and your whole person will benefit from understanding the reasons behind it.
Active dreaming versus no dream recall at all can be attributed to an extreme shift happening inside your person (thoughts, emotions, body function or your hunches and gut instinct needing to reach you) or it could be something else such as: moon cycles, seasons, weather, humidity, barometric pressure, geographic location/traveling, electromagnetic field exposures, wireless frequencies, dietary intake, air and/or water quality, deficiencies and/or toxicity, dehydration, quantity and quality of sleep, hormones, menstruation, medications, alcohol/drugs/cigarettes, physical activity, life transitions, respiratory problems. Take a look and have a think, then make adjustments if needed.
11. How about a nap?
You may be someone who has better dream recall when you lay down for a mini 15, 30 or 60 minute siesta at lunch time. It might be worth a try.
My car is always ready with a pillow, blanket and my cell phone in airplane mode so I have the perfect alarm clock minus the disruptions. A short moment of shut-eye clears my whole person without an ounce of effort. I accomplish far more during the day, with better results and less struggle.
12. Join a dream circle or dream class
Some people need to be a part of a book club in order to read books on a regular basis. Maybe you need to be a part of a dream circle or dream class to mobilize your dream recall.
13. Make dream sharing a family affair
Dreams fascinate and captivate people of EVERY age. Kids, teens, adults and seniors.
Dream sharing is as sacred to many native cultures as is praying and religious service is to others. Sharing and working with dreams is a powerful way to connect with oneself, friends, family and community. The relationship bonds fostered from dream sharing are far more profound and meaningful than food, sweets, money or material objects. The tools learned for personal growth from working with dreams stays with people their whole lives. It is a great way for parents and grandparents to have more meaningful, active and positive roles in the lives of their kids and grandkids.
14. Jump start your dream recall with my last suggestions
♥ Sleep more lightly so you wake up more easily
♣ Set-up a gentle sounding alarm to go off every 60-90 minutes throughout the night
♦ Go to bed earlier, sleep longer and give yourself time to dream
♥ Wake-up 30-90 minutes earlier then needed, then go back to sleep. When you go back to sleep in the morning after a full night of sleep you are likely to enter a dream state right away.
♠ Drink a lot of water or caffeine free herbal tea before bed so you have to get up to use the bathroom. However, be aware that a full bladder while sleeping may very well become a part of your dream script. A full bladder dream could be a whole dream in a bathroom, your searching for a toilet in an environment you don’t know, carrying a huge container filled with liquid that is about ready to spill or something else relating to the pressure in your bladder and the need for a toilet.
My closing thoughts…
Allow yourself to gravitate towards the tips and tricks that resonate with you and try them. Some may feel uncomfortable or strange at first, but remember that “uncomfortable” is not the same thing as “personally inappropriate”. Be willing to try what is uncomfortable long enough so they can work their magic.
I have met a lot of people over the years who vividly remember their last dream. A dream they had 10, 20 or 30 years earlier. While they have continued to dream every night, unless they had brain injury, it is the last dream their waking consciousness has any memory of. If this sounds like you, then it is possible that you consciously or unconsciously needed your dreams to stay in your dream reality. Here are a few suggestions why this may have happened.
♥ Someone belittled, embarrassed or shamed you for remembering and sharing your dreams
♣ You were told dreams were a waste of time and had no value
♦ Your dreams were so unpleasant, you swore off the memory of dreams forever
♠ You had no way of making sense of your dreams, found the residual dream fragments to be more a nuisance than an asset and decided to have nothing more to do with them
Do you remember what was happening in your life when your dream recall ceased? Why would it have been in your best interest to have no dream recall?
The decisions people make are right at the time they are made, but may no longer be in your best interest at a later time. This may be the case for your dream recall. Simply and consciously recognizing why your dreams were not allowed to come can be the switch that allows the dreams to flow again. Know also that you are now a different person, stronger, know more, have more skills and tools with which to welcome the memories of your dreams back with you upon waking. Meditation, imagery techniques or your spirit guides may also be able to show you the way to rebuilding the bridge between your two realities.
Whether you remember your dreams or not, your dreams are impacting your thoughts, emotions, moods, behaviors, health, decision making process, relationships and life. Any small remnant, impression or dream fragment serves as a pinhole in the veil between the two realities. As you acknowledge those bits and pieces the pinholes become bigger and the veil more transparent because it communicates to your unconscious that your dream memories are welcome. This makes the bridge between your two realities stronger and bigger.
If for some reason your sincere intent and commitment do not foster your dream memories to return and you feel your healing and growth depend on them, then I encourage you to find a wise, kind and respectful person who will accompany you safely through the process.
And while I find dreams fascinating, but dreams are not by any means indispensable for well-being, happiness or a balanced life. Dreams are an optional tool you can use or not use. I encourage you to find, respect and honor what works best for you, above all else that is what is most important.
PS I have dream groups and I also work with people individually on their dreams. See my website and my blog for more information