Sleepless nights do more than make you feel lethargic, cranky and generally rubbish the next day; lack of sleep can actually reveal numerous imbalances in your body.
Sleep disorders are rife in today’s world. 24-hour tech, anxiety at living through a global pandemic and/or our frenetic pace of life make for permanent distractions, when we should be winding down or sleeping. Many of us keep our brains fully engaged right up until the moment we switch off the light, and then wonder why we can’t nod off. Your body uses sleep to regenerate. Interrupted, shallow sleep disrupts important mechanisms and impedes healing in the body.
According to Harvard Medical School, sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent. And research shows that even one night of partial sleep deprivation impairs your memory, can lead to weight gain and promotes biological aging in older adults. Looking after your sleep can make the difference between health and disease. While sleeping pills may help Insomnia in the short term, they deal with the symptoms rather than the root cause.
If you can’t sleep, the first assumption in Chinese medicine would be that you have a yin/yang imbalance. Think of yang energy as a flame that keeps you warm, energised, powered up and motoring on all day. At night, yin energy should take over. It is cooling, restorative, nourishing, restores and replenishes you physically and mentally as you sleep.
There’s a protective energy in the body called Wei Qi, which flows on the exterior of your body during the day, when it’s classified as yang. At night, this energy moves to the interior and so becomes yin. However, a sedentary lifestyle or stress will stop your Wei Qi flowing freely, disrupting the pendulum swinging from yang to yin. That will make you miss out on
deep, regenerative sleep.
Sleep can also be affected by your emotional state. For example, if you are stressed or unsettled your liver energy will disrupt your ability to remain in a deep, restful sleep. The liver has a key relationship in sleep patterns and often people wake up in the middle of the night when its energy is strongest.
Sleep is the elusive holy grail for many of us – and there is already a plentiful supply of good wisdom out there to improve your sleep. However, there is also a wealth of techniques to try that are based in the Chinese understanding of sleep.
Advice such as avoiding screens and heavy meals late in the evening, sleeping in a totally dark room and drinking chamomile tea or herbal tinctures is readily available. But it’s combining these with lesser known techniques like gua sha that can really help make the difference in an astonishing way.
So, book yourself onto my Sleep Masterclass to learn the Chinese medicine techniques that could make a profound difference and get you snoozing like a baby in no time.
Please note that chronic sleep problems with red flag symptoms, such as snoring or waking up to pass urine, are often indicators of underlying pathologies, for which you should seek the help of your Western medical doctor.