Sleep is best described as a return to the most basic level of awareness. As such it can be seen as the creative fount of all evolution, the source of all the fantastic changes and amazing variety of living creatures. We often feel we are unconscious in sleep, and without any awareness of having identity or personality. That is only partly true because some people have managed to carry awareness into the depths of sleep. See You Are a Dual Being – Deep in Sleep – Criticism –  Answers To

If you can understand that we always get back to our core self in sleep, and that dreams are a half way house between our core self and our personal self, we can see that dreams are a communication between the two. Also, seeing that our core self is fundamental to our existence, it suggests that while we sleep we experience death – the loss of personal awareness – and so the experience of death or near death experiences are a form of dreaming, still clinging onto the image usually of the old body we call ‘me’.

To dream of being asleep, is to be unaware of something. It is literally saying there is something you are asleep to, something you are not aware of.

Sleep is one of the most mysterious of human experiences. It is the polar opposite to waking awareness, with its focused sense of personal existence and external sensory impressions. From this point of view, there are several levels of conscious life. The first is waking awareness; the second is dreaming sleep – immersion in symbolic representation and the acceptance of these as real; the third is lucidity within a dream – the awareness of dream imagery as symbols and recognition of the symbols being personal creations and not external reality; the fourth is dreamless sleep, or awareness beyond ego, symbols, thoughts or emotion.

American sleep research laboratories in recent years have pointed out that the invention of the electric light bulb has disoriented normal sleep patterns. Millions of people suffer sleep disorders or sleep starvation. According to the National Commission On Sleep Disorders Research, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was the result of the third mate falling asleep while piloting the ship. Similarly, the melt down at the Three Mile Island atomic power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979 almost led to a massive nuclear explosion, and was due to a technician being asleep and failing to hear an alarm.

40 million Americans are estimated to be chronically ill with sleep disorders. Few people recognise their condition and its cause however. Signs of it are chronic tiredness needing constant stimulants to keep going during the day; constant falling asleep during work, talks, driving, inability to wake easily in the morning. As sleep plays an equally important part in healthy long life as nutrition and exercise, it is important to assure its quality. If our pattern and quality of sleep is disturbed, we may fail to notice the influence of such drinks as coffee, chocolate and alcohol, all of which disturb sleep.

The Daily Express reported that “a nap can be spoiled by a nightcap” and that “a wee dram before bedtime…causes insomnia and robs a night’s rest of its restorative powers”. This research evaluated the impact of drinking before going to bed on heart rate and sleep. The study involved 10 university students, who were given low levels, high levels or no alcohol to drink before bed. Drinking higher doses of alcohol was found to reduce the amount of REM sleep, and resulted in a shallower sleep during the latter half of the night. It also appeared to adversely affect the part of the brain that usually controls the body during sleep. From this, the researchers concluded that the alcohol had disturbed the restorative effects of sleep.

So of course does tea or coffee, or any form of caffeine such as chocolate. People often complain of inability to sleep and yet drink many cups of tea or coffee during the day, or eve drink cocoa (cocoa is high in caffeine) type drinks as a night time sleep inducer. My findings are yet drinking several sups of tea, and particularly coffee, lessens the depth of sleep or causes massive insomnia. Taking sleeping pills to enable one to become unconscious increases the dangers.

One of the major sleep disorders is called sleep apnea. This condition causes the sufferer to stop breathing for periods of ten seconds to a minute or more. The person is therefore aroused to waking state, or near it, over and over during the night. This may underlie the recurrent nightmare some people have of feeling suffocated. This condition, if suspected, needs a doctor’s help.

Insomnia is the largest sleep disorder, and of course it covers all causes. Psychologist Peter Hauri director of the Mayo Clinic’s insomnia program and co-author, with Shirley Linde, of No More Sleepless Nights (John Wiley and Sons) says about 60% of all cases of chronic insomnia stem from mental or physical ailments. These include depression, sleep apnea and periodic limb movements (which usually involve leg jerks, repeated every few seconds for hours on end). Sleepers may awaken numerous times, but so briefly, awakenings go unremembered in the morning.

Example: Since I’ve learnt to die, living has become a different experience. I realised this while I was listening to a friend tell me how difficult it was for him to sleep. Gradually we uncovered that he has difficulty falling in love too, and also in trusting his own spontaneous feelings. In fact any area of experience which calls upon him to let go of his own self-control, his feelings or his certainty, was seen to cause him difficulties. I recognised the common factor as `death’. Lots of us, for example, call sleep “the little death”. Maybe this is because we cannot fall into sleep unless we let go of what we are thinking, of what we will, and even of the way we experience our `self’ during waking. See Opening to Life

To help oneself get a better quality of sleep if you suffer insomnia, use the following suggestions.

Keep a 24 hour record showing good and bad nights of sleep. Closely observe connections between events and sleep. Hauri says one woman suspected her insomnia was triggered by phone calls in the evening, her supervisor’s foul moods and ‘times I felt like speaking up but didn’t.’ Her log showed, however, that she slept badly only after phone calls from her fault-finding mother. No other daytime events, no matter how irritating, wrecked her nights. Develop your own insights or theories about what is causing you to sleep badly from the observations you make. Check how much coffee you drink during the day.

Hauri says chronic insomniacs sabotage their own sleep by constant fretting. The more they worry, the more they toss and turn. The worse they sleep, the more they tend to worry. Some people say their minds start to race as soon as they turn off the lights. ‘It’s not that you worry too much,’ Hauri tells them, ‘but that you do it at the wrong time.’ He suggests scheduling 30 minutes earlier in the day as worry time. Sit in a quiet place. Write each worry on a separate 3 x 5 in. card. Sort the cards into categories. Take each in turn and think about it until you decide what to do. Write that plan of action down.

A period of vigorous exercise or soaking in a hot bath also helps. Both raise core body temperature. Recent research shows that cooling down afterward helps induce and deepen sleep. The timing is important. Exercise three to six hour before bedtime. Take your bath two to three hours before; keep adding hot water as necessary to keep your temperature up.

Reserve bed just for sleep. Do not watch TV, eat or drink in bed. These hinder the habit of associating bed with sleep.

Sex is okay in bed if it leaves you feeling relaxed.

Don’t drink any caffeine or alcohol after 2pm.

Avoid napping during the day. Save sleep for bed unless you find it improves your night-time sleep.

Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. The body is like an animal that loves regular activities. Something I found helped to go to sleep was a breath exercise –

If you are involved in highly demanding creative work, sailing a boat single-handed across the Atlantic, or fighting a forest fire, break your sleep in to short chunks. Even fifteen minutes at a time can keep you going. Do not attempt complete sleep avoidance, tests have shown the drive for sleep becomes compulsive and dangerous.

See: sleep – need for; science and sleep and dreams; Breath Control the 1-4-2 Method


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