A lot of conventional wisdom on remembering dreams insists we should write them down immediately upon
waking, that preferably we should wake naturally, and spend some time in bed letting the dreams crystallise before we get up or even talk to anyone. I agree this is the most likely way to recall dreams. But how possible is this for most of us, most of the time? Chances are, such luxuries are confined to rare holiday breaks or being sick and stuck in bed!
The good news is, that even if we can’t experience the ideal awakening, we can still work on remembering our dreams – later in the day. A dream that has not had a chance to come to light at all can be a bit like a cleanly amputated finger (sorry for the macabre symbolism! Stick with me!) That is, as long as the dream is complete and untampered with, it can actually survive for a limited time on its own. If you try to remember the dream during the day when you are distracted and listening to other conversations or absorbed in other tasks, it can result in the dream being half remembered, confused, and then forgotten. Cut off from the source of your consciousness, it will shrivel and die.
But leave it alone, don’t even think about it, and it can be like putting the finger on ice. Then, when you have all the necessary equipment, which in the case of remembering dreams is primarily space and time to be undisturbed, and you may be able to effect a full recovery. What dream recall needs is your full dedicated attention, but not to be forced. You need to be able to relax, close your eyes, and let your mind drift away. If the dream has not been “bothered” through-out the day, so the memory has no stress or sense of effort attached to it, you may find your dream comes simply floating back of its own accord. (Even if you did leap out bed when the alarm rang or the baby cried and immediately started to think about the 50 million things you had to do that day.)
Dreams can come back later in the day if you invite them, rather than force them. It may be when you have a bath, just go into the bedroom or living room (with the TV off!) and lie down and close your eyes for a few minutes. You may even find that you remember your dreams from the night before just as you are drifting off to sleep the next night. If this is the case, it’s often a good idea to rouse your self and write the dream down then. This will “clear” your mind so that there is space for a new dream to come, and allow you progress with your dreams, instead of trying to revisit the same things night after night because you haven’t had the time to remember.
The important thing to realise though, is just because you don’t remember your dream straight away, doesn’t mean you can’t try and recall it later on. Try and do it the same day though. Dreams tend to have a short life span without being pinned down to paper, and will dissolve in your memory to make way for the next one. So if you think you don’t dream, instead of trying to remember your dreams when you wake up, look out for them making a guest appearance as you fall asleep!