Dream journaling can change the way you sleep

Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier Sports Editor

Many theories concerning the purpose of dreams range from simple neuron firing, abstract entertainment, and problem resolution. Unfortunately, most people do not get the opportunity to contemplate the message in their dreams, for they disappear from memory the morning after. But we actually have more control over dream experience than meets the resting eye. 

In a high school psychology class, my teacher assigned students to maintain a dream journal for three weeks. Journal entries were to be written immediately following having a dream, whether that is a random 4:00 a.m. wake-up or after an afternoon nap. 

Starting off, I had a difficult time remembering anything other than general ideas from the night before. However, as days went on, I started to recall more and more details, and eventually got in the habit of waking up immediately after my dream and sleepily typing dream contents into my notes. Specific names, places, and even facial expressions were all clear and salient to me after week two. 

The most interesting part of the experience was the control I eventually obtained over my sleep cycle. I was falling asleep, waking up after dreams and writing at the exact same times almost every night. As a result, I also obtained more control inside my dreams. I was able to make decisions and actions on my own doing, as opposed to watching myself react in a usual dream fashion. 

Maintaining a dream journal has allowed me to optimize the eight hours a night (in an ideal college world) that we typically remain unconscious. 

While this variation of lucid dreaming does not occur every night, it provides entertainment during and after the dreams. The notes taken the following morning are often humorous or senseless, for one is usually still half asleep when writing them. 

Additionally, dreams are so obscure, it is interesting and thought-provoking to analyze the kind of situation your brain comes up with when you sleep. I did not realize I had reoccurring dreams until keeping my dream journal. 

I would encourage anyone to pick up dream journaling. While it may take a few weeks to a month to get in the habit, eventually your brain will be trained to take notice of the dreams and recall them later on. 

While you may not resolve the mystery of a dream’s purpose, journaling gives you the opportunity to maybe see what’s on your mind intrinsically. Additionally, it can help regulate a sleep cycle, an often difficult task to achieve in a college setting. But more than anything, it is simply entertaining to find the hilarious, terrifying, or just plain strange images your brain wanders to when you sleep. And, who knows, your dream plot may translate to a great fiction novel or short film! 

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