Why Keeping A Dream Journal May Be The Secret To A Better Morning

We'd all love a magic recipe for better sleep, waking up ready to tackle the day, and having sustainable energy from sunrise to the time we tuck into bed at night. Well, the trick might be simpler than you'd think. Instead of reaching for the snooze button or grabbing your phone to check email, text messages, and social media first thing in the morning, what you should be picking up is much more analog. Instead of any electronic device, whether it's connected to wifi or not, keep a pen plus a few sheets of paper on your bedside table for a morning routine that will help you track your sleep quality, greet the rays of sunshine with increased mood, and enjoy a peaceful start to your day.

Dreams are an inherent part of the human experience and for centuries ancient civilizations have developed their own interpretations to the meanings of various types of dreams. We may no longer rely on our dreams to dictate our every decision or define our future plans, but our ancestors were on to something when documenting their dreams, reports NPR. In modern society, the work of Sigmund Freud has brought elements of harmony between the beliefs of ancient societies and today's scientific community. We may no longer interpret our dreams as literally as the humans of early civilization, but documenting what we dream about and our sleep routines can benefit sleep quality and make nights of not getting enough sleep ancient relics themselves.

Learn more about yourself

Humans throughout history have believed dreams to be messages from other realms, and there is truth in the ways in which dreams can reveal our subconscious thoughts, emotions, and experiences. When you begin a dream journal, you're likely to discover that you'll almost immediately begin learning things about yourself you never knew. In the chaos of daily life, we rarely get a moment to ourselves, but reaching for pen and paper instead of your phone first thing in the morning can be a gift of quiet solo time you give yourself at the start of each day. Through writing down your dreams, you'll find that you become more introspective, strengthen self-awareness, and discover what your body needs for better sleep at night. Through journaling, you may discover that you've been holding onto excess stress, avoiding uncomfortable feelings, or simply haven't taken time lately to sit in stillness and just breathe.

Enjoying quiet time by yourself while journaling about your dreams can create positive associations between sleep, bedtime rituals, and acts of self-love. Because you'll start to look forward to this relaxing ritual, you'll fall asleep feeling more content and ultimately you'll begin to achieve a more restful slumber that will have you waking up feeling energized and excited to journal. The introspection from dream journaling may even help you realize that your subconscious is manifesting goals and ambitions you passionately want to pursue. If that's the case, then consider this your sign to pursue your passions!

Spend time reflecting

Purdue University defines reflection as a practice of privately thinking through material and considering how it both relates to the present moment and how it can benefit future experiences. Dreams come from our subconscious, so spending time writing them down while they're still fresh in our minds first thing upon waking can help us tap into the thoughts, emotions, and experiences our bodies are holding deep within. Not every dream is going to make perfect sense, but the act of journaling about dreams each morning can tap into inner dialogues we may not have been consciously attuned to or bring our awareness to things weighing us down because we've been trying to avoid them.

There is no one way to reflect through journaling. Rather, the page is yours to make it what you need, whether you reflect through writing, drawing, or a combination of doodles and words. Try different journaling styles to find the one that works best for you as you might find that you prefer writing on a page with structured lines, using a dotted journal for a mix of doodling with various lettering styles, having a totally blank page so you won't have to hold anything back, or using a journal crafted specifically with prompts for documenting dreams and sleep quality. You may even discover that you reflect in unique ways when using different types of journaling techniques, in which case you might opt for a mixture of dream journals on your bedside table.

Set intentions for your day

Setting intentions for your day is something that most people will likely agree is a good practice, though the thought of sticking to them and following through might feel like adding yet another stressful task to an already never-ending to-do list. Instead, think of intentions as small steps to achieve your goals, rather than massive undertakings. Intentions can be small adjustments to existing habits that are manageable additions to your routine. And if you've gotten into the habit of journaling first thing in the morning or jotting down notes about your dreams, then you're already in the groove of setting daily intentions, even if you don't realize it! 

The act of setting an intention shifts your mindset to one of accountability and brings your focus back to your intention as you come across reminders throughout the day. For instance, journaling about an anxiety-inducing dream might inspire you to set an intention to practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day to quell your anxious feelings. Writing your intention down in your dream journal following your description of the relevant dream can reinforce your internal commitment to the intention. As you become more insightful and delve further into reflection, you'll become more aware of what your mind and body need to thrive. Through incorporating mindfulness tactics like deep breathing, meditation, and stress relief techniques throughout your day, you'll find that you fall into better-quality slumber at night. Remember that journaling itself is an act of mindfulness.

Spark creativity

Journaling and documenting your dreams first thing each morning will get your creative juices flowing and you're likely to find yourself bursting with new ideas throughout the day. Dream journaling doesn't just make you feel more insightful, but it can actually spark increased creativity from your first waking moments of each morning. Psychology Today reveals that journaling can set off a positive domino effect wherein the personal insights and reflection gained by writing or drawing in a journal can shift a person's mindset to being more creative, and feeling creative provides an instant boost in mood and optimism. Think of dream journaling each morning as focusing on the past, present, and future all at the same time. While you're enjoying the contentment and relaxation of journaling in the present moment, you can simultaneously embrace the reflection of your past experiences while increasing creativity to carry you through your day.

Have fun with the creation of your dream journal and allow your creativity to flow as you document your dreams from the night before. Don't be afraid to bring out all of the art supplies you may not have touched since your middle school art class, like colored pencils, markers, and colorful stickers. Indulge yourself by creating a book of uplifting designs, doodles, colors, and imagery that you'll be excited to open each morning. Since your dream journal is intended for personal use and you won't have to worry about anyone else seeing it, let your inner artist shine!