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Science Says Keeping a Dream Diary Can Make Us More Creative

Science Says Keeping a Dream Diary Can Make Us More Creative

The very act of recording a dream is fascinating. It improves your awareness of the dream state, making it easier to recall dreams and work with them. If you are wondering why you should even bother recalling a dream, well, dreams have been responsible for some major creative and scientific discoveries in human history.

In 1965, Paul McCartney of the legendary pop group The Beatles composed the entire melody for the hit acoustic song Yesterday in a dream. It came back to him in its entirety when he woke up and he quickly replicated the song on his piano, asking his family and friends if they had ever heard it before. He was initially worried that he was replicating someone else’s work.

Similarly, Niels Bohr, the father of quantum mechanics, often spoke of the inspirational dream that led to his most revolutionary discovery of the structure of the atom. Even Albert Einstein, famous for his genius insights, credited many of those insights to his dreams. “Einstein’s Dreams” is a fascinating read about the collage of stories Einstein dreamed in 1905 on the brink of his breakthrough discoveries.

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When you start to successfully capture dreams and begin to keep a dream diary, the following are some wonderful benefits you can expect:

1. Keeping a dream diary provides us a record.

Dreams are quite fleeting. Most dreams get lost shortly after we have them. Often you won’t remember a dream after only a few hours, or a few days at most. Why allow yourself to forget all your dreams forever when you can keep them on record? Keeping a dream diary ensures your dreams are safely recorded and you can go back to them whenever you want in future.

2. Keeping a dream diary can inspire creativity.

Dreams are also powerful tools for creative inspiration. When you read your dream diary and recall dreams, you engage different parts of the brain and trigger your mind to think in a totally different way that you might not otherwise have been able to do. That’s almost always a good thing for getting your creative juices moving, especially when you’ve hit a creative mental block.

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3. Keeping a dream diary can lead to brilliant discoveries.

As already mentioned, who knows what brilliant insights or discoveries are waiting to be unearthed in your dreams. One dream can result in a brilliant discovery or invention that alters not just your world or the world of your loved ones, but also the course of the whole world in general.

4. Keeping a dream diary allows us to appreciate our own mental growth.

Being able to look back on a dream later and think, “Ah, interesting” or “Geez, that was a weird dream” can be a lot of fun, not to mention eye-opening. It could give you an appreciation of your own mental growth a few years into the future looking back and seeing where your mind was compared to where your mind is at currently. For many people, this is enough reason in itself to keep a dream diary.

5. Keeping a dream diary allows us to observe our sub-conscious.

The beauty of keeping a dream diary is that when you read through it, dreams come flooding back into memory. You see details of your subconscious thoughts vividly all over again, meaning you can analyze what was/is going on in your subconscious mind. Even if you are not keen on analyzing your dreams, knowing what your deepest thoughts are is oftentimes quite enlightening. And besides, the simple act of writing down dreams can be therapeutic too, just like keeping a regular diary.

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Conclusion: Dreams are not the meaningless, corrupt or delusional fantasies some make them out to be

Psychologists no longer dismiss dreams as mere fantasies or random neurons firing. Today they recognize dreams as an ongoing thought process that happens while we are asleep. That is why it is a great idea to journal your dreams. If you don’t journal your dreams, you might never know what profound thoughts are happening while you are asleep, and what impact those thoughts might have on your waking life.

Admittedly, though, oftentimes when we want to remember dreams all we have when we wake up in the morning is a vague recollection of a place or the lingering feeling of being upset. It doesn’t seem worth writing down.

If you have trouble remembering dreams, be patient with yourself. Putting too much pressure on yourself to dream or having high expectations to recall dreams will only exasperate the situation and leave you feeling more disappointed or frustrated.

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Dreams are erratic. They will come around in their own sweet time. And when they do come, try lucid anchoring to capture them.

Try this lucid anchoring exercise to capture your dreams

Lucid anchoring comes from the fascinating branch of psychology called Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Just before you fall asleep, pick an item that you can see clearly from your bed. It can be a prominent picture hung on the wall, for example. This will be your anchor.

Look at this picture when you go to sleep, wake up during the night and first thing in the morning. When you look at the picture say to yourself, “I will remember my dreams.” The phrase acts as a trigger for your unconscious brain to associate the picture with remembering dreams. It’s a statement of intent that informs your mind to focus on your dreams and remember them.

Look at that picture multiple times each night to improve the odds of remembering dreams. It’s also advisable to have on hand a book light or pen with a light attached for recording the most vivid images or emotions from a dream right in the middle of the night upon awakening. Don’t trust you’ll remember your dream in the morning—many amazing dreams and brilliant ideas are lost with that assumption.

Featured photo credit: Eugenio Marongiu via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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