What can you do to recall your dreams more often and interpret them more clearly? The experts offer these tips:
1. Incubate an idea. Before you go to sleep, consciously think about a topic or a person you’d like to dream about. Pose a question that’s troubling you and see how your dream responds to it.
2. Keep track. Next to your bed, place a pad and pen, or a tape recorder or laptop, to record your dreams as soon as you wake up.
3. Try to awaken naturally, without the help of an alarm clock or barking dog that can disrupt your dream cycle. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to sleep in during the week, begin your dream journal on a weekend or during a vacation.
4. Wake up slowly. For the first moment after you awaken, lie still and keep your eyes closed, because your dream may be connected to your body position while you slept. Try to recollect the dream and then store it in your memory by giving it a name like “Late for an Exam” or “My Date with Ashley Judd.” When you rise, immediately write down as many images, feelings and impressions as you can.
5. Connect the dots. To better interpret your dreams, try to make connections between your recalled dreams and recent events. Do you recognize people from the present or past? Can you detect any themes from the dream? Look for patterns over several dreams that might help explain an individual dream.
6. Change the outcome. If you have recurring nightmares that make it difficult to sleep, try to change the endings. Once you awaken from a bad dream, visualize a change in the action to create a more positive outcome. If you are trapped, try to fly. In your dream, you can do what you want!
7. Be patient. It may take days or weeks before you’re able to recall your dreams in detail, but the experts advise to keep practicing. Dream memories are fragile, and trying to recall all the plot twists and turns on consecutive nights seems to have a cumulative effect.