Why It’s Important To Remember Your Dreams & How To Do It

Do you remember your dreams?

If so, are you actively working with them?


Throughout history, countless cultures have developed practices to cultivate their dreams and help people increase awareness, connect and clarify thoughts and feelings, recognize opportunities and issues, solve problems, optimize performance, and many other things. Never mind predicting the future, though that can happen too. As an artist, dreams help me imagine images, both realistic and surreal. As a writer, dreams help me write – letters, technical articles, aesthetic statements, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. As a musician, dreams help me imagine new melodies, rhythms, and even sounds. Still, the biggest reason to remember your dreams is they’re fascinating. Dreams feel more real and are usually more entertaining, emotional, and insightful than movies or virtual reality.


All people (and many animals) dream. Scientists haven’t figured out all the reasons why dreams are so important for our mental and physical health. But they know we spend just under 10% of our lives dreaming. (That’s approximately 750 hours a year.) On average, we dream 2 hours a night in REM bursts lasting 10 minutes early in the night and gradually extending to as long as an hour.


It’s common not to remember dreams. But there are many things you can do to improve your recall. The number one thing I’ve done to boost my recall is write down my dreams, not just first thing when I wake up, not just in the morning, but also when I wake up in the middle of the night. I do this using Notes on my iPhone; it’s always with me. During the pandemic, I’ve been more consistent than ever, and over 80% of the time I remember at least one dream. I found that when I traveled, I often let my routine slip, and my recall went down. When I reestablished this daily ritual, my recall went back up. Extending my dream practices from notation to journalling reflections and creating things in response to them has made dreams and my life much richer. I wish this for you too.


Many books have been written on dreams. I offer the following list of resources as a way to reinvigorate the journey you started long ago. These resources are not the classic academic books of great historians, anthropologists, scientists, and psychologists. I’ve chosen them because as well as being grounded in this long tradition, they’re also approachable and practical.

Sweet dreams!

Unlock The Secrets Of Your Dreams – Stephen Aizenstat – Free eBook

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28 Quotes On Dreams

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on dreams.

“People need dreams; there’s as much nourishment in ’em as food.” – Dorothy Gilman

“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.” – Jack Kerouac

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” – Abdul Kalam

“If you only look at what is, you might never attain what could be.” – Anonymous

“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” – Robert Kennedy

“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.” – Akira Kurosawa

“A man’s dreams are an index to his greatness.” – Zadok Rabinowitz

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” – Napoleon Hill

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

“Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.” – Victor Hugo

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Dream and give yourself permission to envision a you that you choose to be.” – Joy Page

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” – Erma Bombeck

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

“The world needs dreamers, and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” – Colin Powell

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” – Paul Valery

“When you cease to dream, you cease to live.” – Malcolm Forbes

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

“I challenge you to be dreamers; I challenge you to be doers and let us make the greatest place in the world even better.” – Brian Schweitzer

Find more Creativity Quotes here.

Discover more quotes in my Twitter and Facebook streams.

Experiment – Animals

During my recent South Africa Photo Safari (sponsored by NIK) in Mala Mala, South Africa, I spent several days photographing African wildlife. We saw all of the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo) and many other animals. It was the first time I made a concerted effort to make finished wildlife photographs. I gained an increased appreciation for how moments of peak action (or lack thereof) can make or break some photographs. I made many competent photographs, but only one that I felt began to have an inspired quality. I suspected I would have no intention of using these kinds of images professionally – and confirmed this. But, these images rekindled an old flame.
Making these images reminded me of the many hours I spent drawing animals. I quickly discovered that for what I wanted to depict, portraits weren’t enough, interaction and context were necessary. I was interested in how people, of many eras and cultures, react psychologically to animals and to the archetypal ideas of animals we share. One of my favorite essays is about an animal – the snake. Psychologist James Hillman’s A Snake Is Not A Symbol (from the book Dream Animals.) has an enormous amount to offer about how we respond to images of animals. He suggests we reanimate images, especially those we encounter in dreams, through an extended inner dialog with them.
Days later, after making these images, during which my guide repeatedly warned me about the potential for finding hidden snakes, I had a dream about a snake, which was very important to me personally. For me, it was one more in a long line of dreams about snakes. It’s fascinating to see how inner material resurfaces during the creative process and what we can do to stimulate and work with this process.
What images could you make to help you reconnect with and develop important material in your inner life?
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