As a D&D player, one of the things I like is between main events we have those random encounters that always end up in looting, and usually good things that we will need for the next challenge ahead. This being said.
I'm halfway through Etherfields (I think...) and the way the slumbers are designed just takes the life out of me, and the fun of the game (that I love). The new quick route still doesn't satisfy me either. So this is what I'm doing:
1. Between dreams, I display all the acquired slumber tiles and spawn the Entities according to the card suits. This method gives more area to play around and at the same time you never know from where the Entities will come next, specially when all the suits are revealed.
2. I place Ether tokens on the tiles with its symbol (if I already acquired the Winter Card) witch gives me at least a reason to go there and get something positive out of it.
3. Unless an Entity has Deliverance, once killed I remove it from the game (period). The only thing here is the Warden and the Wraith (they don't have an "ending" and I don't know if they will affect the game in the future).
Note: Apart from the Friendly Dogs witch are fun to play, the other Friendly Slumbers they just become annoying after a few rounds of nothingness. I'm consider removing them too.
I like the idea of progressing characters and with all the punishment it's hard to buy new cards or having to lose all the progress over and over again. I even removed all the duplicates from the influence market just to make the mix more interesting when buying new cards and give me the opportunity to be more creative with my game choices instead of playing the same things over and over again. Also, when one player dies in the game I allow the other players to continue the dream until the end (if they can) and only after they awake together (all for one and one for all). I haven't unlock the Sanctuary, maybe there it will be a place to recover life...
P.S.: I played the Slumbers by the rules until the 25th hour of gaming and then I said enough.