Preparing To Dream
If you hope to have dreams to analyze, it is important to get a good night's sleep. Anxieties from your waking hours can inhibit the process of sleeping and dreaming. The following methods of preparation for sleep and dreaming are based on documented research and on individual experience.
It is important not to sleep during the day if you want a good night's sleep. However tired you are, try to stay awake, so that your mind and body are fully aware of the differences between the waking zone and the sleeping zone. For consistently good sleep, it is wise to go to bed at approximately the same time each night. During the day, try to make sure you get enough exercise, eat balanced meals, and do not drink too much coffee or other caffeinated beverages, such as tea and cola drinks. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes for a few hours before going to bed, as both can disturb your sleep pattern.
The sleep environment
Since we spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping, the environment in which we sleep should be well designed for the purpose. The room should be peaceful and uncluttered, preferably without a television or telephone. It should also be well aired, and neither too hot nor too cold; the recommended temperature is 65? F (18? C). If the atmosphere feels too dry or too stuffy, increase the humidity by placing bowls of water around the room, or damp towels over a radiator, or invest in an air humidifier.
Obviously, the most important item in your sleeping room is the bed. You should buy the best mattress you can afford. It must be firm enough to support your back without sagging, especially as the muscles lose tension during REM sleep, leaving the ligaments to take the strain.
Lighting is significant when preparing your body for sleep. The brighter the lighting, the harder it is for your body to achieve a state of relaxation. Make full use of dimmer switches, low voltage lamps, and gently colored lampshades. Make sure that your drapes are thick enough to block out street lights or sunshine-they can be lined, if necessary, with light-resistant fabric.
Pillows should be soft and comfortable, but firm enough to support your neck. It does not matter if your pillows are filled with synthetic materials or feathers, but allergy sufferers should avoid feathers. The pillow should support your head rather than raise it.
To gain the most from your dreams, it is important to prepare for sleep calmly. Sometimes the associations of a particular smell can induce feelings of comfort. Scented candles are popular for this purpose and are widely available. Or, relaxing aromatherapy oils such as lavender, cypress, rose, marjoram, and chamomile can be added to a bath, vaporized, or massaged into the skin, using a carrier oil such as almond oil. Essential oils are carried by most health food stores and some drug stores as well, and are often recommended for sleep disorders. It is important to use caution when choosing aromatherapy products, however-for example, some essential oils must not be used by pregnant women. Advice from a qualified aromatherapist is recommended.
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