As you saw in Parts I and II of this series, we sleep for many reasons. The question now is, how can you make your sleep more effective? How can you get the most out of the time you spend asleep? Here are ten techniques to help you on your way.
1. If you are able, break your daily sleep time into two sessions, preferably evenly spaced from each other. The solid block of sleep we usually use divides up our consciousness too much. Like many others, I believe this way of sleeping is an artifact of civilization, especially artificial lighting. Someday it may become natural, but until then sleeping in smaller sessions does several things.
- You'll probably find you need less total sleep. When I was sleeping during two time periods regularly, I found I only needed about 4 - 6 hours a day. I felt great.
- When you wake, you're more likely to wake up from the dream portion of the sleep cycle. You'll wake up easier and less groggy than when you wake from the deep sleep part of the cycle.
- You won't be totally exhausted when you go to sleep. You'll function at a higher level during your waking time.
- Unlike breaking your sleep into several periods, you have time to go through one or more full sleep cycles. You get all the deep sleep and dream time you need.
- You'll remember your dreams more easily. Remembering your dreams isn't necessary for them to do their work, but one of the main purposes of life for many of us is to integrating our awareness. Being able to work with your dreams is a godsend for this.
- Your chances of having lucid dreams increases.
2. Eat as low on the food chain as you can. This type of food tends to be easier to digest and generates less toxins in your body. In turn, there is less physical recovery needed from sleep.
3. Don't eat or drink alcohol before going to bed. These things have to be metabolized, and interfere with the sleep process.
4. Practice rhythmic breathing. This helps maintain your life energy.
5. Meditate. There is no better aid to integrating consciousness than meditation. It helps restructure the contents of your mind, leading to increased serenity and emotional resilience.
6. The robot, our habit-mind, is there for a reason. Use it. Make a habit of going to sleep and getting up at the same time as much as possible. You'll sleep the better for it.
7. Try to sleep some multiple of the 90 minute sleep cycle. You'll wake up more easily since you'll be waking during the dream portion of the cycle, you'll feel less groggy, and you'll have an easier time remembering the last dream you were having.
8. When you lay down to sleep, find a comfortable position, then use some form of progressive relaxation to release body tension. You'll go to sleep more quickly, and will sleep better.
9. Consciously release the thoughts of the day. A racing mind makes it more difficult to go to sleep, and increases both physical and emotional tension. As a thought arises, acknowledge it then tell it you'll deal with it tomorrow.
10. If you have a special problem, make a decision to dream about it. Ask yourself, or your god, for help with it, then let it go. Part of dreamwork concerns our day-to-day life and the things that concern us. While we sleep we do work on these things. We may not remember a dream, but answers and solutions pop up during natural flow of the day.