Dream Journal

Dreams are, for some people, one of the more fascinating aspects of the human condition. Many people believe that dreams can serve as a window into our subconscious, providing an unearthing of the themes and struggles we are dealing with in our lives. Dream journals serve as a place to capture, and analyze, these narratives that unfold while we sleep.


Merriam-Webster defines dreams as “a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep.” Often, when we have a dream, upon waking, we can recall it with the same vivid detail we would a memory that we actually lived. However, for many people, as the day goes on, the memory of a dream fades.

Person sleeping

Many of our most vivid dreams occur during REM sleep, a period in our sleep cycle when we are close to waking. Thus, these vivid narratives are often most present in our mind when we wake up. For a lot of people, it’s the dreams that occur in REM sleep that they feel compelled to record by writing them down so that they may interpret them later.


Journaling is a practice of collecting thoughts and experiences in one place. For some people who like to interpret all different parts of their lives — sleep, their relationships to others, their thoughts on food and experiences — journaling can be a practice that assists in creating continuity for recording such things.

Dream journaling

Dream journaling is the practice of writing down your dreams. For some people, this is simply a way of keeping a log of the narratives that present themselves to you when you sleep. For others, it is a tool that is used for dream interpretation.

Dream interpretation is when you, or someone else, studies your dreams and assigns meaning to the themes that present themselves within your dreams. This can mean, for example, interpreting certain objects to be symbolic of a particular thing you’re dealing with in your waking life. For some people, dreams hold deep meaning. They believe that what presents itself in their dreams is an indication fo some truth about their waking life. For those people, a dream journal may be a perfect tool for collecting dreams so that they can be broken down and analyzed.

Start your dream journal — with unlimited entries, photos, and memories — for free. Diarly is private, beautiful, and personal.

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Best practices for dream journaling

If you think dream journaling may make sense for you, either simply as a way to collect the stories you dream up in your sleep or as a way to analyze what presents itself in those narratives, here are some things that may assist you:

  • Have one specific place where you do your dream journaling. Some people keep a notebook by their bed that is dedicated to the dream journal. Increasingly, people sleep with their phones, tablets, or computers nearby. For those people, using a journaling app might make the most sense for a dream journal.
  • Do your dream journaling immediately upon waking. Dreams are notoriously fleeting. No matter how vivid an experience may feel right when you wake up, there is a good chance that by lunchtime — or even by breakfast — you won’t remember it nearly as vividly as you experienced it during sleep. For the best retention of detail, write your dreams down right after you experience them.
  • Don’t be afraid to look back on your dreams — it can be interesting to see if common themes, objects, or storylines appear. Dream journaling can be a really fun practice, whether you’re using it for dream interpretation or not.

Keeping a digital dream journal

Keeping a dream journal on your phone or tablet has a number of benefits. For example, if you are like most people, your phone is almost always with you. That means you don’t have to worry about packing an extra notebook if you’re traveling, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving your dream journal behind on a trip, or having other people reading them — with Diarly, you can encrypt your journal and lock it behind a password, yet easily accessible with FaceID or TouchID.

Person writing in their digital journal in bed

In addition, a digital journal is available during day and night. Particularly when considering where might make sense to keep a dream journal, having the ability to update it in the dark and without waking your sleeping partner, if you have one, may be a big draw. For this, automatic dark and light mode — as well as dozens of themes to choose from — can be a game-changer.

Moreover, if you keep your Apple Watch nearby, you can dictate or record your dreams at any time, without even having to type or look at a screen.

When it comes to journaling, anything that will make it easier for you to contribute to the journal consistently is a benefit. Keeping a journal requires frequent contribution.

Start your dream journal — with unlimited entries, photos, and memories — for free. Diarly is private, beautiful, and personal.

Download on the App Store

What keeping a dream journal may look like

Our editor likes to keep her iPad next to bed every night, so it's available right next to her when she wakes up. Every morning, the first thing she does is open up Diarly — FaceID makes it really easy to unlock without having to think about it. Right away, she records her dreams in her dream journal, and her projections and goals for her day in her main journal. Sketches and drawings can make it even easier to describe places or thoughts, and writing by hand makes jotting down thoughts very fast and natural, so she keeps her Pencil on the side, to have it available when she needs.

In a few minutes every morning, she can get all the benefits of a dream journal — and any other type of journal, thanks to Diarly's separate journals. You could have a journal for dreams, another for affirmations, another for projections and goals, another for relationships, and one more for keeping track of health or fitness goals. With customizable reminders, writing targets for each journal, and different writing prompts per journal, it's easier than ever to set yourself up for journaling success, whether you intend to keep one journal, or many.

Person sleeping next to their journal

Why not tonight?

Chances are good that you’ll have some form of a dream tonight, so why not start keeping a dream journal? Even if you aren’t sure yet what you’d like to do with your record of dreams, you can start building your log right away. You may be surprised at the insights you discover about your own mind in the process.

Get started with Diarly. It's the most private and secure journaling app available, and with password-protection and encryption, even more so than a notebook. You can start for free, with unlimited entries on one journal. No vendor lock-in, no upsells, and nobody can access your data but you.

Start your dream journal — with unlimited entries, photos, and memories — for free. Diarly is private, beautiful, and personal.

Download on the App Store