Six to eight hours per day of sleep in a whole life span amounts to about a third of a persons life in slumber. Many pay no attention to sleep and dreams in what becomes a lost third of their lives. Others simply forget.
A dream journal is a way to recoup some of the lost time of sleep and dreams. But there are many other benefits of keeping a consistent dream journal.
Benefit 1: Dream Messages. Psychologist Carl G. Jung (1875-1971) theorized that dreams were a window into the unconscious. While Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) had the same sort of theory, he believed that the nature of the unconscious was different than what Jung proposed. Freud saw the unconscious as animalistic, instinctual and sexual while Jung saw the unconscious as spiritual. Regardless of what you believe the nature of the unconscious mind is composed of, dreams have messages from the unconscious that may otherwise be lost if they weren't written down. Messages that may give insight into the deeper currents that move underneath the surface of the self allowing a level of introspection that rivals any psychiatric session.
Benefit 2: Dream Entertainment. Dreams can be a great source of entertainment, but many people don't recall them. Writing them down can prove to be more entertaining than any sitcom as the night visions are dramas played out on the stage of ones own mind.
Benefit 3: Lucid Dream. Lucid dreaming is a state in which the dreamer is aware that they are in a dream. With good dream recall cultivated by a dream writing habit people tend to have more lucid dreams. Once aware in dreams, it is possible to do anything one's heart desires. The dream becomes like a genie in a lamp or personal holodeck in which wild fantasies come true.
Benefit 4: Amazing Dreams. It is amazing the kinds of dreams that can be forgotten. The some of the few that are remembered are now cultural phenomenon such as the Beatles song "Yesterday" (1965) written by Paul McCartney. McCartney claims that the tune for the song came to him in a dream... needless to say, he wrote it down or rather woke up and played it on his piano. In fact McCartney said: "I liked the melody a lot, but because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it." Steven King dreamt of the concept of his book Misery before writing it. In an interview with Naomi Epel for her book, Writers Dreaming, King says of dreams: "I think that dreams are a way that people's minds illustrate the nature of their problems. Or maybe even illustrate the answers to their problem in symbolic language." Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) dreamt of his story The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before writing it. He described dreams as occurring in "that small theater of the brain which we keep brightly lighted all night long."
One third of most people's lives are forgotten, leaving gems of personal discovery, and a wealth of creative ideas lost forever. Perhaps getting more out of life is as simple as writing and remembering the dreams of a previous night.