Welcome back to the dream world, kids! In my previous post, I talked about the importance of our dreams: what we can learn from them, and how to use that knowledge to better our waking lives. In today’s post, I will share what I have found through my personal experience to be the top ten tips for initiating, remembering, and even controlling your dreams. Without further adieu, let’s get to em!
#1. SLEEP: It’s About Quality AND Quantity
The most important tip I can share to strengthen dream health, and one of the most important tips for increasing general health, is to make sure you are getting ADEQUATE amounts of DEEP sleep. How much is enough? Numerous studies show that adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Think you can get away with only 6 on the weekdays, and catch up with one or two big sleeps on the weekend? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Especially if you want to cultivate an active dream life, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night is essential. I find myself needing around 8 to 8.25 to feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated the next day. I have noticed that my most active dream cycle usually takes place in the early hours of the morning, right before I wake up. Were I to deny myself those last couple hours of sleep, I might miss that dream window all-together.
The quality of your sleep will depend greatly on the extent to which you follow the tips below.
If you are not exerting enough physical and mental energy throughout the day, you might notice you feel restless and wide awake at bed time. It is absolutely vital to elevate your heart rate every day, preferably outdoors. You must also tire your mind with new tasks, challenges, and games, to quicken your voyage to the dream world. I base all of my advice on personal experience, and this tip comes directly from my experience with depression. During those years, I spent most of my time alone in the basement, watching tv. My body and mind were not only confined to the boundaries I had set for them, but those boundaries became smaller the longer I was physically and mentally stagnant. When I tried to sleep at night, I would toss and turn for extensive periods, sometimes three to four hours, before finally drifting off to a light sleep. It was only once I reintroduced physical and mental exercise that I was able to regain my healthy sleep patterns.
Not only is it incredibly important to eat a healthy, balanced, plant-based diet to raise your vibration and heal your cells, but it matters what time you eat as well. As a general rule, you should avoid eating anything within two hours of going to bed. Doing so increases strain on your digestive system. Your body is forced to break down the food instead of directing its energy to your sleep processes. Moreover, you intensify the strain on your system if you consume things that are hard to break down, such as animal products like meat and dairy, or fried, heavily processed, or high-sugar foods. Brandon and I usually eat dinner around 6:30 pm, and are in bed most nights between 9:45-10pm. We occasionally have a small serving of a homemade plant-based, refined-sguar-free dessert around 7:30 or 8pm.
#4. Darkness & Silence
In the modern world, true darkness and silence are increasingly hard to come by. It is an unfortunate reality that the children of the 21st century might never experience the wonder of standing under a sky that is littered with the glow of billions of stars. Light pollution has taken over our lives, and with light, comes noise. I advise people to mitigate these effects as much as possible by adding block-out blinds or curtains to their bedroom, so you are able to sleep in total darkness. Even the light from a wall thermostat or a charging cell phone is enough to interrupt the melatonin production in our bodies. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep and wake cycles, and we have sent it completely out of whack with our addiction to artificial lights and screens. I strongly encourage people to spend at least the last half hour of the day (the longer the better) avoiding screens. Bring a book to bed instead, or play a board game or cards before turning in. These activities will tire the brain, inducing sleep and dreams quicker than by watching television or looking at your phone before bed.
#5. Sleep In a Cool Room
Growing up, my parents (my mom especially) were very energy conservative. Our house was always kept around 18° Celcius (64°F), and slightly cooler when we slept. I found this to be amazing for inducing a solid, deep sleep. When the temperature is too warm during sleep, it causes restlessness. Not to mention, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night multiple times to remove clothing or peel back covers. I recommend sleeping in a room no warmer than 19°C. I have also found through my experience, that while it helps to keep the majority of the body cooler, the feet and hands should be warm. I usually wear thick socks to bed, boxer shorts, and a t-shirt. We live in an old cabin that lacks insulation and is heated solely by a wood stove, so at bedtime the temperature starts around 20°C, but drops off to 12-15°C overnight.
I have been able to make a strong connection between sleeping in a room that is too hot, and the increased likelihood of having nightmares. In fact, I had one last night, because I was so tired when I got into bed that I didn’t even have time to take off my sweat pants before I fell asleep. I awoke in the middle of the night after a terrifying nightmare, and was, not surprisingly, scorching hot. I believe these nightmares are our brain’s way of signaling us to wake up when we are overheating while simultaneously in a state of extremely deep sleep.
#6. Limit Alcohol And Marijuana Consumption
While some people believe that alcohol and marijuana induce sleep, the truth is that they induce a kind of “false sleep”, much like the effect of pharmaceutical grade sleeping pills. (If you are currently taking prescription sleeping pills, I strongly encourage you to get off of them as SOON as possible.) The body tries to process these toxins while asleep, preventing you from reaching REM sleep. I have found that on almost all nights where I consumed alcohol, I had dreamless sleeps. My partner Brandon, who has smoked marijuana regularly for over ten years, has confessed to rarely dreaming. Simply put, if you want to increase your quality of sleep and dream life, you have to limit both marijuana and alcohol intake, especially in the second half of the day.
#7. Start A Dream Journal
The best tip I can give anyone who specifically wants to strengthen the recall pathways to their dreams, is to start a dream journal. Buy a notebook and put it on your bedside table with a pen. First thing every morning, while the memories of your dreams are at the forefront of your mind, write down the details. Even if they are as fragmented as: “Rabbit ducks; fishing for sandals in a river; trying to get to top of a big hill with childhood friends; paper clips on the counter,” writing down whatever memories you have will strengthen your connection to the dream in its entirety. The memories will become more detailed the more often you do this. I now use my cell phone to document my dreams, because I can type much faster than I can write with a pen. I text myself the details of my intricate dreams, then later copy them down in my dream journal. Because of this practice, I am now able to almost completely dissect and decipher every detail of all of my dreams.
#8. Patterns & Routines – Notice And Create Them
The more you can become an investigative spy on your own life, the more insight you will gain from your dream life. This tip is especially important for those who want to start lucid dreaming. I advise people to become creatures of habit, especially around their night time rituals. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Try to do the same thing before bed every night, whether that be a routine of meditation, massage, reading, drinking a cup of herbal tea, or snuggling with your partner. The more you create patterns and become aware of them in your waking reality, the more you will also become aware of them in your dreams. And when you are aware of a pattern in your dream, you can recognize when something does not fit that pattern.
For instance, if you dream about your best friend one night, and they do or say something uncharacteristic of themselves, you can recognize that instance as an oddity. You can then use these compiled observed oddities to increase your awareness of the fact that you are in a dream. Once you realize that you are in a dream, you can begin to control and manipulate the environment. And that, my friends, is the beautiful world of lucid dreaming.
One of the ways I usually realize I am dreaming, is if my space looks slightly different. For example, I had a pattern of lucid dreams several months ago, in which I noticed that the dimensions of my bedroom were smaller or larger than normal, and the doorways were in different spots. This is where being an investigative spy on your own life comes in handy. Although it doesn’t take a detective to realize that an exterior door placed along the wall of a bedroom is an “oddity”, it will certainly test your detective skills to notice that the colours of the painting on your bedroom wall are a slightly warmer hue than normal. Become intimately familiar with all your surroundings, especially your house and your closest relationships, and the likelihood of your dreams becoming lucid will greatly increase.
#9. Focus On It & Affirm It
As you know from reading my Law of Attraction posts, whatever we choose to focus on in our life, grows. Wherever we shine the light, that section of life becomes illuminated. If you want to create a more robust dream life, you have to make dreams a topic of conversation. Share your dreams with your partner and friends. Bring up the topic at work and see what others are dreaming about. Buy books on the subject and watch documentaries dedicated to dreams.
Not only do you have to turn your attention to it, but you have to make your intention clear. Tell yourself every night when you go to bed that you will remember your dreams upon waking. Tell yourself that you are getting better and better every day at remembering and deciphering your dreams. The more you affirm, the more you will start to believe your statements, and the more you will remember.
#10. Patience, Young Grasshopper.
My last piece of advice when trying to enrich your dream life, is also my biggest piece of advice for life in general. I am constantly reminding myself of this, and Brandon reminds me all the time as well. That is – be patient. Be patient with your progress. Know that every stage serves its purpose. Do not try to rush yourself out of where you are to where you want to be. We are meant to marinate in every evolutionary chapter for the purpose of fully learning the lessons that we need to carry forward with us into the next. Appreciate where you are now. Know that you are doing yourself an incredible service just by reading this article and focusing your attention back on your dreams. Forgive yourself if you forget to write in your dream journal. Allow yourself the time it takes to build this self-reflective kingdom. Know that each insight gained from each dream is an incredible tool to have in your pocket. But know that it will take time. If you are starting from a place where you do not remember your dreams, you struggle to fall or stay asleep, or you have other predominant issues going on in your life, be especially patient with and forgiving of yourself. You are not going to be able to remember everything and translate it into wisdom after two or three nights of dream journaling. This is a skill that takes months and years to develop. But, just as with any other skill, the more you do it, the better you will become. Trust in the process. The more you shine your light of attention and intention on your dreams, the more they will flourish. Allow yourself the educational process, and revel in every small success.
The path of evolution is the most beautiful journey I can fathom, and the journey becomes immensely richer and more meaningful when painted by the rainbow of the dreamer’s brush.
Until next time,
All my Love,
Always and forever,
In case you missed the lead up to this post, you can find it here – Dreams: Our Incredible, Powerful Teachers.