In our culture of working hard, playing harder, life, work, and family it is easy to push oneself to the point of exhaustion. Often people come to the clinic wanting to have more energy so they can fit 30 hours of activity into 24 hours. The frantic pace of life then effects sleep and when we don’t sleep, nothing seems to go well. The body responds by using up its resources to match the relentless expectations put on it by the individual. Our precious and irreplaceable “yin” is then burnt up.
So what do we do when we are exhausted but have a million things to do? Stop. Breathe. Nourish the “yin”. The “yin” is the nutritive, the dark, and the time to get some rest. Often when we nourish the “yin” in our patients, they start to get tired more often and feel less productive. Well, that’s OK. It means the body if finally getting a chance to recover from all the years of “go go go” and it’s trying to REST.
Chinese Medicine’s roots are based on the Taosist philosophy of observation of nature and the patterns that can be seen on a Macro and Micro level. The day time, when the Sun is out is “yang” and night time when its dark is “yin”. Activity is best during the day time, and rest, at night. Its not complicated, but its so easy to mess up the body’s internal clock by staying up late repetitively.
I see students staying up too late, in a constant state of grogginess and misery to keep up with their studies. I used to do that but after a few years I realized the I had to treat my school work like “work”. Set up a study schedule, ideally morning is best to study because the brain is fresh and can absorb information better. Then it becomes easier to take the evenings to rest and recover from the day. Cook a nourishing meals and go to bed at the same time every night. One trick that works for me is to get up early in the morning so I get tired earlier in the evening. After a few days, my body naturally wants to get up earlier and go to bed when its dark.
Here are some tips on getting better and more restful sleep.
1- Go to bed at the same time every night, ideally before midnight. Melatonin production begins when it gets dark so when drowsy, go to bed.
2- Do not eat or drink too late at night and cut out alcohol before bedtime.
3-Sleep in a dark environment, turn off TV/ computer screens/ hand held devices that are back lit.
4-If the brain is storming and not letting you sleep, make a note, and tell your brain that you can focus on the ideas, worries and stresses better after sleeping well. Sometimes, it will listen.
Think about nourishing your “yin” everyday, because when it runs out, its gone. So eat nourishing foods, get plenty of rest, and create a schedule that is not exhausting. Life’s quality will improve greatly.