How to Keep a Dream Journal – Benefits, Apps and Examples

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In today’s society, dreams are largely dismissed as nothing more than something your mind does when you’re asleep. Sharing them with others is usually met with polite remarks and your words forgotten soon after.

If you want to dissect what your dreams mean, or you always seem to forget your dream and just want to remember them, keeping a dream journal could prove to be more beneficial than you think.

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What is a dream journal?

A dream journal, also known as a dream diary, is an ongoing record about the dreams you have while you sleep. The purpose of a dream journal is to help you recall your dreams, so you can analyze them later.

Sometimes, dreams can be a way for your subconscious trying to tell you something you aren’t aware of. Certain stress dreams for instance, could be a sign that you’re overwhelmed at work or perhaps you’ve feeling guilty about something.

In order to understand your dreams, you need to start by actually remembering them. But here’s the problem. According to, the average person dreams four to six times per night, but forgets over 90% of those dreams. How many times have you told a friend, “I had the wildest dream last night. But I can’t remember it!”

Dream journals are your best tool for making sure you can immediately jot down your dreams when you wake up, so you don’t forget them later on.

Benefits of a Dream Journal

1. Better problem-solving skills

Studies show that we are smarter when our minds are well rested. In this state, you can cope better with the day’s stresses after 6-8 hours of sleep. For an even better outlook on life, taking time to assess your dreams will put your mind at ease. That is because they are how your subconscious mind makes sense of life when you’re awake and conscious. Interpretative dream journaling signals to your brain that dreams are important.

As you continue journaling, you’ll find that your dreams play a beneficial role in your life. Your night visions will educate you as it puts together the puzzles in your subconscious mind. You’ll be able to problem solve life’s hurdles quicker because you’ll have more insight and a better understanding of what needs doing.

2. Overcome anxiety and stress

Everyone dreads nightmares. They do however help reveal our innermost fears and allows us to find safe and healthy ways to cope with them. With every dream enter into your journal, the better your ability to recall and note underlying themes, character, and events.

Once you realize your areas of anxiety, it provides the opportunity to do something about them. That’s one of the advantages of journaling- many people go around life stressed and anxious, and they don’t know why.

An applicable example is if your dreams revolve around losing a relationship or a job, you can take steps to cope and improve. Practice positive thinking and make changes to mitigate the potential of a break-up or being fired.

For the awakened mind, dreams act as the window to your subconscious mind and the soul. It’ll also give you a better understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and actions. These insights aid you manage your life better.

3. Lucid dreaming

This type of dreaming has become a healthy hobby for some people. It is when while you’re asleep, you’re aware that you’re dreaming. It is said to have significant mental health benefits. In this state, people opt to consult with spirit guides who offer advice and predictions that prove useful in the real world.

4. Spiritual awareness

Ancient Egyptians believed dreams were a way for the gods to communicate with them. This practice was not limited to them- it was equally well adopted in the Greek civilization and other cultures that were said to have dreamers, seers, and oracles.

For those who wish to remember past lives, dream journaling can help reveal to you information about your ancestors. Like eye color, dreams and memories can be passed down through a lineage.

Dream journaling isn’t limited to a single faith or belief system. Depending on your guiding principles, you can use what you write as points to reflect on. Meditating upon them will give you awareness of yourself that is not limited to the outside world. If you’re not sure what your dream means, some guides will point you in the right direction.

5. Improved dream recall

Whatever you give your energy to grows. This same principle applies to the ability to remember your dreams. If you say you don’t dream, you’ll be particularly surprised when entries of “no dream recall” turn into full narratives. The simple act of dutifully journaling will tell your subconscious mind that recalling dreams matters. In time, a shift will take place and you’ll have full access to your dreams.

Keeping a journal increases your awareness. Once you’re conscious of recurring patterns, your mind will automatically help you realize you’re dreaming. In this space, you enter into lucid dreaming.

If you want to cultivate psychic or prophetic abilities, dream journaling is the way to go. Approach it as a way of connecting with an All-Knowing Supreme Being who’s not constricted by time or space. This way, when something you dreamt about comes to pass, it’ll affirm that a connection between you two exists. It becomes almost impossible to dismiss experiences as mere coincidence

6. Tap into your creativity

When dreaming, science tells us that the logical part of the brain shuts down, letting your creative mind take over. As with everything new we learn, your mind creates neural pathways allowing you to remember things as well as see ‘old’ things differently.

If you write or make creative content for a living, your dream journal could act as a reservoir of new ideas to explore.

7. You get to know yourself better

The subconscious mind is vastly untapped, yet here lies information about us, others and the world. With access to this area of your brain, you’ll be able to uncover hidden gems that you never thought existed. Once you begin journaling, if you work on and live by what you discovered, you’ll transform into a better version of you.

How to start dream journaling

When you’re starting out, the first thing to decide is what medium you want to use for journaling. Some people prefer a dream journal app, while others prefer going the old school way using pen and paper. You could also use a voice recorder and transcribe it later.

For beginners, we recommend starting with a physical dream journal. You don’t have to start with a regular journal with just blank pages. We love this dream journal we found on Amazon.

dream journal

It comes with questions and fields to fill out for each journal entry, which is perfect if you’re new to journaling or just want a little guidance on what to record.

Once you’ve selected a journal:

  • Write your dreams down every morning right after you wake up. Even when travelling, don’t forget to take it with you.
  • Don’t fuss over spellings, grammar and punctuation. Doing so will affect how well you recall a dream.
  • Write out all the details, no matter how trivial.
  • Indicate the quality of sleep and the time frame. These factors can influence the type of dreams you have.
  • Keep the journal next to your bed to reduce distractions.
  • Once you’ve made an entry, look for recurring themes and focus on those.

Dream journal examples

If you’re new to dream journaling, it can be a little confusing trying to figure out how to start. Staring down out a blank sheet of paper when you wake up can be a lot to take on. Since everyone expresses themselves differently, and no two dreams are alike, there are limitless ways to write in a dream journal.

Here are some examples of dream journals for inspiration:

  • John Dubois’ dream journal: John Dubois was a software engineer that kept a public dream journal. Notice that his journal is organized by both date and theme.
  • Andy Zaitsev’s dream journal: Andy recorded his dreams for nearly 10 years. The interesting thing is the dreams are scattered, and are categorized as lucid and non-lucid dreams. His dream journal also includes analysis as well, which you can feel free to do in your own as well.
  • Rob Vincent’s dream journal: Rob is a writer and creator that kept an online dream journal up through 2014. One interesting thing Rob did in his dream journal was to record his mood with each journal entry. That’s helpful to see if there’s a correlation between your mood and your dreams.

As you can see, there is not “wrong” way to keep your dream journal. It all depends on what works best for you. Try experimenting and mixing things up a bit until you find a journaling flow that you like.

Dream Journal Apps

If you’re more of a digital person and don’t enjoy writing on paper, an alternative option is to use a dream journal app. There are several free and paid dream apps for iPhone and Android that you can try out.

Here’s a list of popular dream journal apps:

Lucidity: Lucidity is a lucid dream journal app for Android. Lucidity isn’t just for writing down your dreams, it also has a range of features to help you have lucid dream. Lucid dreams are just like regular dream, except you’re fully aware of the fact that you’re dreaming while you’re in it.

Lucidity dream journal app

Dream Journal Ultimate: This dream journal app is like a social network for dreamers. Not only can you record your own dreams (synced across multiple devices) privately, but you can also post your journal entries on the “dream wall” for others to see, and see other people’s dreams as well. The color scheme of the app was also designed for night reading. Here’s a great article from a super fan of this app.

dream journal ultimate app

Awoken: Awoken is another lucid dreaming app with tools for lucid dreaming, recording your dreams and it even has a cool feature called dream patterns. This looks for common words and themes within your dream journal entries so you can spot commonalities and better analyze your dreams.

Awoken dream app

Penzu: Penzu is a general journal app, that you can use for the purpose of a dream journal. The benefit of Penzu is there’s both a desktop and mobile version so you can keep write and read your dream journal entries from anywhere.

penzu journal app

iDream: In addition to being a dream journal, iDream also helps you interpret your dreams. The app has a dream dictionary with thousands of dream meanings for you to browse. Once you write down your dream, iDream analyzes it for keywords to help you find a deeper meaning.

What about online dream journals?

Some people like to keep online dream journals using blogging sites like Live Journal or even WordPress. While that might work for some, there are some things to keep in mind before you go that route.

For one, once you put your dream journal online, it’s open for the public to see. If your dreams are personal, and you want to keep them to yourself, an online journal probably isn’t the best route to go.

Also, you don’t own your online journal. If the website hosting your journal goes down, or goes out of business, you risk losing all your past dream journal entries. If you want to keep a digital dream journal, we suggest using either a private dream journal app, or even the notes app on your phone. But just like with anything else online, there’s a privacy risk with apps as well.

Additional Resources

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About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

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