Sleep: Pillar of Good Health

The body takes the time throughout the night to do all of the work that it is unable to do during the day while we are busy running around. When we try to go to sleep, it may be difficult if we are stressed and overwhelmed, digesting food from a late meal, or processing intellectual and emotional information. Without enough sleep, toxins build in the body and the system becomes overloaded because the work of the liver is diminished. Here is one explanation of why that occurs.

Chinese Medicine explains the fundamentals of sleep.

In Chinese medicine, every organ in our body has a 2 hour segment in which it has domain over the course of the 24 hour day. These are significant times for our bodily functions. Therefore, the timing of symptoms can help unravel the mystery of the cause and the organ involved. We can put the pieces of the puzzle together by noticing what happens at certain times in the day or night.

Examples of organs and the timing on the clock…

The way this relates to sleep is that the Gallbladder time is between 11pm-1am, followed by the Liver from 1am-3am. Although the amount of time that we sleep is critical to our long term mental and physical health, the timing of when we sleep and rise is similarly significant. There is a saying that for every hour you sleep before midnight, it is equal to two hours after midnight. The Gallbladder and Liver are responsible for this. They want you to be asleep by 11pm so that they can do the work of detoxification. The Gallbladder is the husband to the Liver, or Yang to the Liver’s Yin. The Gallbladder prepares the body for the Liver to do its work. If that doesn’t happen, toxins accumulate and there are repercussions.  

Similarly, the Large Intestine is most active from 5am-7am. It is most beneficial to wake up around 7am and have the urge to have a bowel movement. This is a sign of health and the systems of the body working perfectly together. We all know how good it feels to wake up with a complete evacuation, feeling light and rested! This is followed by the Stomach from 7am-9am, which is the best time to eat breakfast.

How much sleep is optimal?

There are differences in the amount of time we need for sleep but most people are sleep deprived. The majority of us need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The research that has been done on all of the factors to protect our brain from early onset dementia shows that sleep is the number one contributor to having this issue or not and that having a minimum of 8 hours of sleep is the optimal number.

How does this relate to the immune system?

If we get to sleep by 11pm and sleep 7-9 hours minimum, we will be in an optimal state of health with regards to sleep. Our body will be able to detoxify the substance that we create internally and that we are exposed to externally.

When we are unable to detoxify properly, there is more burden on our body. Our immune system is involved in detoxification and fighting infectious disease. It has trouble doing both at the same time. This is why it is not a good idea to do a “detox” when you are sick with an infection. Our body can not tolerate the extra load of elimination while it is fighting an illness.

Ways to create a good night’s sleep:

  1. Stop all screen time at least 30 minutes, but optimally 60 minutes before your desired sleep time.
  2. Light a candle and meditate or pray as a way to address any restlessness that is left over from your day. Read about mindfulness and techniques for body awareness here.
  3. Use healthy, non-addictive substances to help calm the mind and body to sleep if you are having trouble.
    • Melatonin
    • Valerian
    • Passiflora
    • Chamomile

There are many other ways to help sleep. If you need help, please let me know so I can assist you in getting a good night’s sleep!

Wishing you sweet dreams and a restful night’s sleep. Waking rested is the best sign that your body has done everything it needs to do while you slumber. If you are not one of those people who wake rested, please reach out. I would love to help you achieve that health benefit.