6 Things You Can Do to Control Your Dreams

Updated: Mar. 16, 2022

To take charge of your dreams at night, prepare your mind during the day. Dream experts share their tips on how to control your dreams.

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Blank easel in a white room.

Find a physical reminder

In order to make a particular person, experience, or solution to a problem appear in your dream, you’ll want to focus your mind on that topic in the moments before you fall asleep. If the theme lends itself toward a physical memento you can place on your nightstand, all the better. “If it’s a personal problem, it might be [a photo of] the person you have the conflict with,” Deirdre Barrett, PhD, author of The Committee of Sleep and assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA, suggests. “If you’re an artist, it might be a blank canvas. If you’re a scientist, the device you’re working on that’s half assembled or a mathematical proof you’ve been writing through versions of.”

Two women playing video games and laughing.

Expect common themes

As Sandy P. Marantz, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker at Westmed Medical Group in Yonkers, NY, notes, the themes that appear most often in your dreams are the ones that appear most often in your life. Dreams “tend to repeat unresolved issues until they are mastered by the dreamer. As well, they can represent wishes and desires that we harbor,” she explains. With that said, if there’s a specific person, problem, or idea you’d like to explore more often in your dreams, make an effort to spend more time with it during your waking hours. These are the surprising things your dreams reveal about your personality.

A woman lying on a bed sleeping in her high-rise apartment.

Focus hard on what you’d like to dream about

Now that you’ve got a physical reminder and have tried to spend more time with the object of your ideal dreams during your waking hours, it’s time to settle into bed. Make sure you hit the sack early enough to get ample sleep time, so you wake up refreshed. Now, focus your mind on whatever it is you’d like to dream about. Did you know these strange things that could happen to your body while you sleep?

A woman sleeping peacefully in bed.

Make a statement

To focus your thinking even more, you should actively cultivate a positive mindset. “Make a gratitude list in order to have a gratitude attitude at bedtime,” says Marantz, and “think about having sweet dreams.”

A woman with brown hair working on a laptop.

Check in with yourself during the day

This is important when it comes to controlling your dream while you’re having it—and being in a state of lucid dreaming. “By asking yourself the question, ‘Am I dreaming?’ throughout your day, you will begin to ask the same question while in a dream,” Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zeizel and Thomas Peisel, authors of A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming, have suggested. “Your suspicion of reality will echo into your sleep, bouncing around your mind until—voilà!—you find yourself within the mecca of your own psyche.”

A woman spinning in a circle outdoor with her hair in the wind.

Go wild!

When you wake up, wake slowly, letting your dreams linger. Marantz says that quiet morning reflection, followed by a writing session can help with dream recall. Congratulations—you’re dreaming and you know it! Go ahead and create whatever type of dream world you please.