Dream Journaling: Your Key to the Unconscious Mind

Dreams contain a remarkable amount of information relevant to our personal lives.  Depending on what system of dream work you subscribe to, dreams generally manifest this content in the form of symbolism, metaphor, creative imagery, and unlikely scenarios.

But before we can even begin to delve into the meaning and being of our dreaming existence, we have to know about it.  As mentioned in the previous post The Importance of Recall, dream recall is 75% of the journey.  Without memory of our nightly expeditions, we have no ability to reflect on, interrogate, or otherwise benefit from latent dream content.

Luckily for us, modern technology provides us with numerous options for recording our nocturnal adventures.

I am personally torn between voice recording and traditional writing.  I love the feeling of writing out long, cramped dream journal entries filled with flying, sex, and insight, or describing the thought process leading up to lucidity, or otherwise scribbling out a mundane, non-lucid dream.

For the traditional journal, Moleskine creates a quality product that will stand up to some abuse, and looks pretty professional.  The most important point is that the journal resonates with you on some level.

On the other hand, voice recording is sort of a like a dream come true.  Without turning on any lights, basically without thinking, I can switch on a button, garble out the contents of a dream, snap off the recorder, and sink back into dream time.  Below are the pros and cons of both approaches, as they seem to me.

Traditional Journal–Pros

  • Memory.  Writing stuff down just makes it stick better.  Memories are more easily coded into the brain (at least for me) through writing.
  • Wakefulness.  Writing in the middle of the night promotes wakefulness, especially if the dream is long, and you are dedicated to recording it all.  The more awake you are upon returning to sleep, the more likely it is you will have a lucid dream!
  • Ease of Access.  When looking back on journal entries, it is easy to scan and see what you are looking for, especially if you have done drawings to go along with them–much easier than listening to a bunch of files!
  • Aesthetics.  A dream journal looks cool, and your remembering self will enjoy looking at a big, fat dream journal full of your adventures and fun times.


  • Time.  It. can. take. for. ever–especially when you are short on time and need to get to work or school!  You may need to schedule extra time in which to write down your dreams.
  • Sleep.  There are times that waking to write down an entry will cause insomnia, and you will not be returning to sleep.  Hazards of dream practice.
  • It could get lost.  Or stolen.  Or peeked at.  Security is important to consider, but in general, keeping your journal in a safe place (not on your desk at work) will be enough.

Voice Recorder–Pros

  • Sleep.  Since there is no need to switch on a light or really engage your brain (other than turning on the device and talking), it is very easy to return to sleep.  This can help you get the best of both worlds–all the dreams, and all the sleep.  Win.
  • Ease.  It’s so damn easy.
  • Time.  Most of the time, it’s super quick, too–unless you have a massively-detailed dream you are recording.  Which in that case, aren’t you glad you’re not writing?
  • Connectivity.  Some voice recorders have the advantage of uploading entries to Google Drive, such as the Easy Voice Recorder App (it’s great, and free).

This little Olympus voice recorder is pretty good (though a bit dated).  Plugs into a USB outlet for uploading recorded content.  If you are going to use your phone, I recommend Easy Voice Recorder


  • Sleep.  If you are using your phone to record, might want to install a blue light filter to avoid killing your brain’s melatonin production.
  • Memory.  Voice recordings just don’t stick in my memory the same way a written journal entry does.  If this is important to you, go with the journal.
  • Noise.  If you sleep with a spouse, this is a balancing act.  Best bet is to get out of bed (yuck) and voice record in the hall, living room, etc.  If your spouse is a heavy sleeper, shouldn’t be an issue.  Will want to avoid saying their name into the recorder, though, as this might wake them.
  • Dreamwork.  The challenge here is actually returning to a recording and using it for anything at all.  Many of my recordings currently lie dormant somewhere (nowhere?) in cyberspace.  Don’t listen to them.

I have found that a hybrid approach works best for me: voice recording in the middle of the night, and journaling in the morning.  Use what works best for you.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, or suggestions.  Do you dream journal in a different way?  If so, how, and why did you start doing it like that?  Tell me in the comments below!



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