How To Have Vivid Dreams

There is one main difference between vivid dreams and non-vivid dreams...and that is how much you remember. A dream isn’t necessarily remembered because it’s vivid, it’s usually vivid because it’s remembered. 

We all dreams several times a night and most, if not all, of them are usually forgotten. What we do remember is usually just dream residue, vague and incomplete. Most the experience slips from our memory within seconds of getting out of bed.

How can you hold onto your dreams and remember them more vividly? Let's discover when we dream during the night and find out how to easily, yet dramatically, improve our recall.

When Do We Dream?

Most of our dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During this phase, our bodies experience increases in breathing, heart rate, and brain activity. REM cycles typically occur every 90 mins during a normal sleep cycle and are longest in duration during the second half of the night.

Simply knowing that you have most of your dreams during the early morning hours can help you become more aware of your dreams.

Improve Your Dream Recall

Dream recall isn't about having a better memory. It's about being more aware of when you wake up from a dream and having the willpower to write it down. Here are 5 easy steps for dramatically improving your dream recall:

  1. Don’t move. When you awaken from a dream, stay still. Keep your eyes closed. Stay in the same position you woke up in.
  2. Recall the last details of the dream. Where were you when it ended? What was happening? Who was there? What were you feeling?
  3. Work backwards. Don’t try to remember how the dream started, instead work your way backwards through the dream. Piece together how you got to each situation. Notice how the dream changed along the way. Take your time and let the dream come back to you.
  4. Relive the dream. Now that you have worked as far back as you can remember, play out the entire dream one more time in your head…this time from the beginning. 
  5. Write it down. This is the most important part. Keep a dream journal next to your bed just for this purpose. Even if it happens to be the middle of the night, take the time to write it down. 9 times out of 10 you will completely forget everything if you wait until morning.

5 Great Tips for Keeping An Effective Dream Journal

  1. Keep it simple, stupid (KISS). I prefer using a basic college ruled notebook. That way I avoid taking the time to find the right page or having to hold it open when I write. 
  2. Keep it by your bedside. It should be within reaching distance from your sleeping position for quick access. I keep mine on my nightstand.
  3. Don’t worry about penmanship or grammar. This is only going to be read by you, so just write. Reread and edit in the morning. 
  4. Jot down specifics. Write down names of people & places. Describe what was happening, how things changed, what you were feeling, etc. Add a sketch or two if you can't describe it. Then add today's date.
  5. Write whatever you remember. If you can only remember that you were eating ice cream…then write that down. If you remember nothing at all, write “Nothing”. Get in the habit of writing something every day. 

Making Vivid Dreams A Habit

Tell yourself that you will write down your dreams every day for two weeks. Before you start, note how many dreams you typically remember each week, month, etc. This is your baseline.

Now choose a goal to aim for: "I will remember ____ dreams this month."

When I first started writing down my dreams, I wasn't really all that excited about it. I stuck with it for a month and increased my recall from 1-3 dreams per month to remembering at least 3 dreams every night! All I did was follow the steps above. Anyone can do it.


Having a vivid dream is all about what you can remember. By learning how to develop your recall ability, you will soon be able to remember most of your dreams every night. At that point, you might want to consider trying to learn how to have lucid dreams as well! 

› How To Have Vivid Dreams


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