“For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.
So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:5-6)
While dreams and visions are the central focus of this website, it might be helpful if we take a moment to discuss several questions that belong to the related domain of sleep. It is well known that the quality and quantity of our sleep has a profound effect upon the quality and content of our dreams. It is commonly recognized in Western culture that sleep is a necessary function within the realm of biology, however, it is little recognized that sleep is also a deeply spiritual activity. For it is during sleep that we open to the spiritual planes, it is during this time that the Christ and the Holy Spirit appear before us and apply a healing balm to the wounds which afflict us while we are in our daytime waking consciousness. If sleep is disturbed, then the Lord and the Holy Spirit are prevented from gaining access to our sleeping consciousness, and the distress and disturbance that we accumulate in the daytime hours will only fester and grow.
Because sleep disturbance and nighttime distress is so widespread in western culture they receive a great deal of attention in popular media. There are almost daily reports in the medical literature and in the popular press that chronicle the difficulties that are encountered regarding the challenges that many people face as they try to achieve deep and restful sleep. These findings indicates that there are, in general terms, three basic issues: 1) an insufficient amount of sleep; 2) an insufficient depth of sleep; and 3) and agitated and disturbed sleep. Now, often these three conditions are inter-related, in that, those reporting agitated sleep will likely suffer from insufficient depth of sleep, and those individuals are likely to experience, over time, a deficiency of sleep. Eventually those who are caught in this downward spiral are very likely to become exhausted, and in the absence of an effective remedy, no small number will experience advanced stages of exhaustion.
If we take an objective view and observe the prevailing lifestyle in western culture it is very easy to see why so many suffer from these conditions. The root cause, from a spiritual point of view, is that many individuals, including many Christians, are estranged from their spiritual nature. While this estrangement manifests in many ways, most often it is characterized by a lack of rhythm, the kind of rhythm that use to be thought of as a well balanced and well lived life, what one might call harmony. These are, for example, the rhythms of breathing, heart beat, and waking and sleeping; three crucial areas of life where modern man has developed an array of vexing disease configurations. We seem to have little appreciation for harmony in our lives and, in fact we often outwardly appear to deliberately seek disharmony. Whatever the individual circumstance, our tendency to disharmony and discord gives rise to poor quality sleep, chaotic and confused dreams, and in the most extreme cased, deranged behavior.
In the western nations, our all too common and pervasive estrangement from basic human rhythms is a result of our habitual tendency to over-stimulate the nervous system. At the same time there is a countervailing tendency to dull consciousness with too much food, alcohol, and entertainment. Each day the average person is abuzz with drug based stimulation and then they crash with food based lethargy; one can easily see that, in the long run, a behavior pattern of this kind will create many, many problems all of which will be detrimental to our spiritual aspirations.
If what we have written here applies to you then you might ask, “What am I to do?” The answer for this is fairly easy, but the implementation will be very challenging for many; with this in mind we offer the following suggestions: Avoid any behaviors that have a destructive effect on your state of consciousness, and at the same time, cultivate positive habits that make sleep a restful and rejuvenating experience. Here are some suggestions which you may find helpful:
Engage in moderate exercise every day.
Make your evening meal very small with foods that are easily digested—it is best to sleep with an empty stomach.
Establish a regular sleep schedule.
Create a devotional setting in your bedroom.
Create a comfortable sleep environment; eliminate distractions and noise; use natural fibers for all bedding (cotton) and bedclothes (silk is best), and always sleep with a window open.
In the time immediately before going to bed, create an evening ritual that includes contemplation, meditation, prayer, and reading from the Holy Scriptures.
Each night just before going to sleep, set the intention to recall your dreams.
It is important to realize that the manner in which you choose to spend your time in the hour or two before retiring in the evening is especially important. In this period it is best to create a protected space, a zone privacy, that allows you to achieve as much peace and quiet as possible.
The amount of effort and time that you devote to this nightly regimen is a matter of personal preference, however, it is important to understand that the quality of the time that you are able to devote is far more important that the quantity of time. An hour of prayer with a highly distracted mind has much less value than ten minutes of prayer with a calm and peaceful mind. Naturally, the reader should exercise good judgment in their lives to ensure that their devotional practices are both fruitful and sustainable for the long run.