We all know that getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial for good health. Too many late nights, or sleepless and restless nights definitely take their toll on our mental and physical body, and more so as we get older. We need to sleep to refresh, to rest from daily sensory and emotional stimulation, as well as physical activities. In many countries not only is rest considered necessary overnight but also during the afternoon. It is common in both European and Asian countries for businesses to close down in the afternoon for a few hours so that everyone can take a siesta. Studies have shown that naps improve work efficiency. In Japan some offices even have special rooms for employees to take a rest break.
Rest is a precondition for healing. Animals naturally withdraw, finding a quiet place to sleep when they are wounded or sick. Humans tend to put themselves in denial and carry on working, trying to find some imaginary superhuman power to keep going. This often leads to turning what might have been a mild short-term complaint into a more serious long-term problem. Sleep and sufficient rest are forms of medicine and allow the body to naturally heal itself. Here are some ways to ensure a good night’s sleep:
- The most beneficial times for sleeping for health are between the hours of 9 pm and 4 am, or 10 pm and 5 am. In TCM qi flow is at its maximum in the triple warmer/heater/burner meridian during the hours of 9 pm and 11 pm. The triple burner is said to be in charge of sending energy taken from the air, food and water to different parts of the body. If its function is compromised by stress, tension, or lack of sleep, the body becomes more vulnerable to illness. According to Ayurvedic Indian holistic medicine, going to bed before 10 pm will give a deeper quality of rest.
- Keeping to a disciplined routine for retiring at night and rising the next morning will help you fall asleep more easily. Try and establish the same routine for weekdays and weekends.
- Washing your feet in cold water followed by an oil massage may also promote good sleep. Be sure to stimulate Kidney 1 acupoint at the base of the ball of the foot, between the two pads.
- Drinking plenty of water during peak kidney qi flow time (3 – 5 pm) will help flush toxins and prevent waking up through the night.
- The mind should be calm and positive in order to fall asleep. Studies have shown that the more stressed the mind is when we go to bed, the busier it is overnight, and the more stressed we are the next day! Try a fifteen minute meditation to clear away any worrysome thoughts.