“Dream recollection is vital in a spiritual life. One must stay close to his dream-wisdoms that he may grow in faith, in truth. The dream-wisdom remembrance is the kind of wisdom that builds the spiritual life.” The Third Music, Ann Ree Colton
First, it will be helpful if you prepare your body, emotions and thoughts for sleep. Avoid alcohol in the evening, as alcohol suppresses R.E.M. sleep. It is also a good idea to go to sleep at the same time every night. Avoid watching upsetting programs on television. Avoid looking at your computer for at least a half hour before bed. Take a hot bath or shower. Anything that relaxes your body and mind is a good idea.
Second, it will be helpful if you pay attention to your sleep environment. You will increase your chances of dream recall if your sleep environment is not disruptive or distracting. Make your bedroom into a peaceful, orderly, well-ventilated, dark, quiet sanctuary. Make sure that your bed is comfortable. Optimally, there should be no light in the room. You can put black-out shades or curtains on your windows and make sure that you do not have glowing cell phones, clocks, computers etc. near your bed.
These days it is challenging to eliminate artificial light in a bedroom, but doing this will not only help your dream recall, it will also greatly aid your physical health! If you can’t eliminate light in your bedroom, you can try wearing a sleep mask. It can also be challenging to eliminate noise from your sleeping environment. If barking dogs, traffic, or other noises keep you from creating a quiet, peaceful sleep environment, you might want to try wearing ear plugs when you sleep. The goal is to completely unplug your senses.
One night, I had set up a lamb stew in a crockpot in the kitchen, to cook overnight. I had to get out of bed and turn it off, as the fragrance of cooking food was too stimulating and was disturbing my sleep.
Right before you turn out your light it is very helpful to speak what Ann Ree Colton calls a “pre-sleep mantram” to prepare yourself for sleep. One example: “When sleep falls unto me, the claims of the day will cease to bind me, for in the night I am free to immerse my heart in the renewing pool of God’s perfect peace.”
Place a notebook, pen, and flashlight by your bed. If you wake up in the night and remember a dream, get yourself to wake up enough to write it down. When you wake up in the morning, don’t open your eyes, don’t move, don’t speak, as doing this might wipe out memories of a dream. (Before going to sleep, remind your partner that you are trying to work on dream recall and ask that they not speak to when you first wake up.)
If you have to use an alarm to wake up, try to have the least disruptive alarm possible. Anything that jars you awake will usually cause instant dream evaporation! (I use the alarm function on my cell phone and wake to a soft harp sound.) If you do remember a dream, lie in bed with your eyes closed and replay the dream in your mind, as this will store the memory of the dream in your brain, and then write it down immediately, if possible. Even if you only remember a fragment of a dream, write it down. Working on dream memory is like exercise – keep at it, and, little by little, you will build dream recall muscle!