Essential details to include when recording your night dreams – and why.
Are you wondering what to write down when you have a dream?
What information will you need when you try to interpret it?
This article draws on many years of personal experience to explain exactly what details to record and why. It includes a free downloadable dream journal page.
I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.
A bible-based approach to recording dreams
I have previously written about general tips for recording and remembering your dreams. This article is more practical and looks at the specific details we need to record in our journal at the time of dreaming.
Having interpreted my own dreams for many years, I have discovered that certain details are essential to the interpretation process; if we don’t record them at the time it makes it much harder to interpret the dream correctly later. Dreams are often about events that are a few months (or years) in the future – so this is vitally important.
I have based this article from my experience of interpreting dreams within my relationship with God. I have assumed that our dreams will be relevant to what God is doing in our lives and the plans He has for us; so the journal page I have designed reflects this.
Your free dream journal template
I have made a downloadable dream journal page that includes all the details I would normally record at the time of dreaming.
The details I normally record are as follows:
- Key details to aid memory
- Date and time
- Day of the week
- Main feeling and atmosphere
- The dream
- What is currently going on in your life
- What you asked God before you went to sleep or prayed about recently
- Give the dream a title
- Initial thoughts about the meaning
Sign up to get the free template. Click on the image below which will take you to the sign-up page. It is a fillable pdf, so if you have a suitable device/app you can fill in the sections and re-save it. Or you can just keep it as a reminder of what information to record.
Important dream details to record
Here is an explanation of what each heading means and why it is important to record it in your dream journal.
You will notice that the first space on the template is for the title of the dream. However, don’t worry about that initially; this is something to come back to later – once all the other details are recorded.
Follow the steps outlined below:
1. Key details to aid memory
Dreams vanish from our memory very quickly. I have heard that we generally forget them within about five minutes. That means that we must be speedy when writing them down! Therefore, it is helpful to record the significant details first.
It is helpful to record the significant details first.
Some of the details that are easily forgotten are things like:
- Numbers and times
- Names of people and places
- Specific words, messages, or instructions.
These things very quickly disappear from the memory but can be key to the interpretation of the dream. It is very frustrating to find you have forgotten such a key piece of information!
So, use the space provided to jot these things down. Then you can relax and focus on recording the rest of the dream details.
2. Date and time
The date is important, as it fixes the dream firmly in the context of life events, seasons, and things you have been doing. The dream may well relate to things that are happening around the time of dreaming – and you will need to know those things when you revisit the dream.
Sometimes the specific time of waking is also important. Did you wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night? If so, the dream might be a particularly significant one! Or was it a particular time like 1:11 or 03:03? God might be using those numbers to say something. Record the time just in case. You will never remember those details later.
3. Day of the week
Quickly circle the day of the week. This might not be important, but it could be.
If there is something specific happening that day, make a note of it too. For example, if it is the day you attend a wedding or a particular meeting, just note that somewhere – either above the days or at the bottom of the sheet.
Colour and atmosphere are very important in dreams. They can give us a clue as to the source of a dream.
For example, regarding colour:
- Particularly bright, vivid and colorful dreams are a very good indication that the dream is from God, or is about heavenly things.
- Dreams set in normal daylight are usually from God in my experience. If you don’t really remember much colour but it just seemed normal, circle this one.
- Muted, hazy or muddled dreams can be coming from our own soul (subconscious mind). God may be allowing us to have the dream to show us what’s going on beneath the surface.
- Black and white dreams are likely to be from the enemy. If that’s the case, they are usually very noticeably black and white; sometimes they feel monochrome.
- Dark dreams can also be from the enemy or fear dreams. By dark, I mean dark in feeling and atmosphere, not just a dream set at nighttime.
- Dreams set at night can still be from God. Night can represent difficult times, or times when God seems far away. Notice whether everything felt clear and normal, just set at nighttime, or rather whether it was dark and oppressive.
5. Main feeling and atmosphere
Note down anything else notable about the atmosphere and feeling of the dream, and how you felt when you woke up.
This can help identify the source of the dream. But, also, it can help work out what area of life the dream is about – if you can identify something happening in your life where the same emotions are displayed.
Charity Virkler Kayembe explains this well in her DAESI dream work method:
6. The dream (continue overleaf if necessary)
Now is the time to write out the full dream! Check out my article on recording dreams for more tips on how to do this. Take notice of colours, numbers and other details.
If the dream is long, you can continue over the other side of the page. Sometimes it helps to draw the dream or parts of the dream.
7. What is currently going on in your life
After you have written the dream down you can relax! There is no longer a time pressure to write down the dream before you forget it. Now you can turn your attention to the real-life context of the dream.
The biggest challenge of dream interpretation is identifying what area of life it is about. You need to record anything that might help with this. This means thinking about what is going on in your life at the time of dreaming and noting it down. It might be relevant, or it might not; but it is virtually impossible to remember those things, particularly the smaller day-to-day things, after time has gone by.
There could be big things happening, like starting a new job or moving house. But there could be other things on your mind: Maybe you are feeling pressured about something or have just had a big argument with someone.
Write down anything that seems important to you or is playing on your mind.
8. What you asked God before you went to sleep or prayed about recently
Also consider your relationship with God – because dreams are like an ongoing conversation with Him.
Consider what you have been praying about, and other things that are happening in your spiritual life. Note them down.
I wrote an article about asking God a question before going to bed. I often do that myself, and God often answers me! If you did that the night before then make sure to record it now. Many times I have gone back to a dream a while later – and discovered it was the answer to my question that I had on the night of dreaming!
9. Give the dream a title
Now is the time to go back and give the dream a title.
I would recommend sticking to the content of the dream and not trying to include an interpretation in the title. Choose something that will help you remember the details of the dream itself. When you read the title you want the dream to come back into your memory!
When I first started interpreting dreams, I used to title the dream according to what I thought it meant. The trouble was, I would find out later that I had got the meaning wrong and have to keep changing the title!
I try to include key words that are unique to that particular dream.
For example, you might call a dream ‘Going on holiday’, but that is very vague and you might have lots of dreams entitled that. Include some more details to make it specific.
To illustrate this, here are some examples of titles from my dream journal this year:
- Yellow boats dangling over Niagara Falls
- Taking a group to London at Rosh hashana
- Packing up the car after a blue boat trip
- Josh should get asparagus to feed the tortoise
- Visiting our daughter in flat 599
Each one of those titles brings back a memory of the dream itself.
10. Initial thoughts about the meaning
If you like, you can have a go at interpreting the dream. Sometimes you get inspiration on waking, and it is worth recording your thoughts.
Personally, I find I am nearly always wrong at first! I only understand when I come back to the dream a while later with a more objective mindset. Often there is more information, or keys, that need to happen in my life before I understand the dream.
So hold these initial ideas lightly and be prepared to rethink them later.
If you don’t have any ideas just leave this section blank.
In this article we have discussed the details that I have found it useful to record at the time of dreaming. I have also included a brief explanation of each one.
If this all seems a little confusing, don’t worry. It will become clearer once you look at the downloadable journal page and record a few dreams. You can refer back to this article if you need more explanation of any section.
As time goes by, you will develop your own process, and get to know what kind of thing you need to write down.
The most important thing is to make a start!
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I hope you found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to emails to receive regular dream interpretation tips.
The purpose of this blog is to provide biblical foundations for interpreting dreams and encourage others to make their own dream journey. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.
It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here: Requests for dream interpretations.
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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Jennifer Needham disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.
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