We all sleep. Every human being needs some shut eye in order to properly function, but a good night’s rest is often put on the back burner for other priorities. We forget that our bodies need some downtime, and that running on empty is not always in our best interest. We all dream. As we nestle into our beds every night to rest and recharge, we slip into a deep REM rest where our most vivid dreams occur. We dive into a subconscious world that revolves entirely around ourselves. Sleeping and dreaming both largely contribute to a person’s general health, and neither should be compromised or underestimated.
We’ve all heard about the basic benefits of getting at least the recommended 7 hours of sleep- higher cognitive function, lower stress rates, better moods, and better memory- but what about our dreams? Do they carry the same benefits or have deeper meanings imbedded inside of them? Sleep and dream expert Rubin Naiman, PHD., says yes. In an excerpt from TIME- The Science of Sleep, Naiman claims, “dreaming is a second gut”. Some skeptics disagree and claim that they do not dream at all; this is merely because dreams are quickly fleeting and can be difficult to recall. The average person has three to five dreams every night, occurring mostly in the two-hour span of your deepest rest, but they generally leave our minds within minutes of waking up. Keeping a dream journal is an enjoyable and creative endeavor that can help you capture your dreams before they are whisked away and seemingly impossible recollect. It will help you take advantage of amazing benefits linked to remembering your dreams, and you’ll have some fun in the process!
Why Should You Journal?
5 Dream Journal Benefits
1. Cultivate Creativity- Your waking mind is cluttered with thousands of thoughts due to the chaos we often live in. Whether it’s due to an upcoming deadline inching closer or fear of failure holding you back, it is only natural to feel as though your creative flow is being blocked and stumped at times. A dream may just spark your next great idea, but you’ll never know unless you write it down.
2. Boost self awareness- It is no secret that keeping a journal of your waking life has countless benefits, including but not limited to evoking mindfulness and encouraging self-reflection. Writing down your dreams and later reading into the possible symbolic nature of the events that occur can help you find clarity, lead to realizations, and source self discovery. The saying “the answers we seek, already lie within” may hold some truth; try journaling to find out!
3. improve your physical health- A good night’s sleep is crucial to your overall well-being. It gives your body the necessary time to unwind and reinvigorate so you can be the best version of yourself. Studies show that dream journaling and reflection can cause a person’s dreams to become longer, more vivid, and plentiful. As mentioned before, most dreams occur during the REM stage of sleep. The Mind in Sleep, by Arthur M. Arkin, cites a study that concludes that there is a “positive correlation between REM density and the subjects’ active involvement in dramatic dreams”. Basically - if you’re deeply immersed in your dreams, chances are you are getting the rest you need. This does nothing but good for your body, and therefore your health.
4. Improve your emotional health- Neurologist Sigmund Freud’s dream theory suggests that dreams are symbolic of unconscious desires that are repressed from conscious awareness, and through our dreams they are brought to our attention. Writing about and reflecting on your dreams may help you understand the intent behind your thoughts and emotions.
5. You’ll have some fun- Even if psychoanalysis of your dreams does not lead you to a new level of enlightenment, it is above all, enjoyable. It is interesting to see where our mind goes when we’re not in complete control!
Maybe your dreams will help you heal, and maybe they will inspire you. Maybe they will give you insight, and maybe they’ll give you the occasional scare. There’s nothing to lose, so grab your journal and explore the possibilities!