Automating an Archived Dream Journal in the Cloud

OK, this is really cool. You might say I’ve done it again…


The Goal

Every single resource on lucid dreaming will tell you that Step Zero is improving dream recall.

This means that before I can possibly explore the riveting dream worlds that I want to, or work on problems in my sleep a la Edison or Einstein’s catnaps, I have to remember more dreams. Got it. And the best way to remember more dreams, of course, is to record them first thing in the morning.

The Problem

Yet, therein lies the #1 barrier that has stopped me from delving into one of the most interesting topics I have ever learned about. (For more on how tiny reasons become huge obstacles in following through on our goals, read Ramit Sethi’s fantastic piece on the psychology of “passive barriers.”)

Write down my dreams first thing in the morning, you say? You mean with a pen and paper? What is this, the Revolutionary War?

Writing down dreams by hand is less-than-ideal for at least 4 major reasons:

  • Writing by hand is inefficient. For longer dreams, it can take over ten minutes to write it all out by the time you’re done going “Oh yeah, but before that, I was at the beach!” Time is valuable.
  • Your records are un-searchable. If you ever want to refer back to the context and exact wording in that one dream where you had that deep conversation with your Grandmother, you would have to flip through a bunch of other handwritten entries, scanning each one.
  • It WILL be illegible. You write messy when you’ve been awake for a total of 10 seconds. Plus…
  • You will likely lose that notebook soon anyway.

Alas, I think I figured out a pretty sharp way to bypass all of these barriers to A.M. dream recall, one that’s completely free and mostly free of any involved or super techy setup. Grab your smartphone and take roughly 5 minutes now to set up your digital age dream journal.

The Solution

  1. Download Dragon. Grab your Android or iOs device and download Dragon Dictation, a free app that transcribes your speech to text. Yes, you can do the same with Siri, but it takes more clicks, and we are going to ask the least possible of our future groggy, half-awake self. For the same reason, once the app downloads, get to draggin’ Dragon to your homescreen.
  2. Set up your Dream Log Archive folder in Gmail. Log in to Gmail and head over to the Settings. Then:Filters tab > Create a new filter > Type “Dream Log” under Subject > Create Filter with this Search > Check off Skip the inbox > Create filter.
  3. Go to sleep tonight with your smartphone within reach.
  4. Open Dragon on your device as soon as you wake up. Hit “Record.” Recount out loud everything you remember about what you were just dreaming.
  5. Once you’ve recounted all that you’re going to remember,  hit “Done.” Dragon will then transcribe your words into a mostly accurate text box. Use the keyboard function to touch up any words that it missed. (It shouldn’t be too many.)
  6. Hit the Share button,  and opt to “Email” the text. Make sure you put “Dream Log” in the subject, per the Gmail filter we set up, and email yourself at your Gmail address.

Congratulations, you now have your first entry in your new dream log of the digital age! You can literally refer back to this for the rest of your life. To see all your archived dreams, simply search “subject:Dream Log” in your Gmail account.

In sum, let’s recap all the aspects that make your journal far superior to the archaic handwritten logs:

  • Permanent. Google is openly on a mission to archive all of the world’s information. Your dream journal will never get lost or deleted.
  • Private. Nobody has access to your email but you. And for argument’s sake, even if somebody did get into your email, we’ve set up your dream logs to surpass your inbox and go straight to archive; nobody is going to search your mail for “Dream Log.”
  • Searchable. Go ahead and find out what Grandma told you in a dream seven years ago. Godspeed.
  • Legible. You will never squint at your dream journal again, analyzing the line curvature in an attempt to figure out “what is that letter?” Now it’s all typed.
  • Dated. What were you dreaming about back in May of last year, when such-and-such was going on? Now you can find out.
  • In the cloud. I believe it was Einstein who proved that people always have the craziest dreams in hotels. Now you can capture and record your dreams even when traveling, to be instantly archived alongside all the rest of them. And to think, there have probably been some luddites in recent history who have actually packed their dream notebooks into a carry-on. God have mercy on their inefficient hearts.

Well I hope you learned something, and invested the 5 minutes up front to set up a system that you can now rely on for the rest of your life. Let me know in the comments if you have any modifications to this or discoveries of your own!