For many of us, sleep is something hard to come by. It can be a case of it being difficult to fall to sleep or for some, to stay asleep. Whatever the situation, it can be totally frustrating. Lack of sleep tends to spill over and begin affecting every corner of our health, from our cognitive function right through to how we detoxify. Sleep is indeed the elixir of good health and if you are finding your sleep is compromised, you’ll find great benefit from looking into why.
The amount and quality of sleep depends on the state of the mind according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Further to this theory is the concept that the mind is rooted in the heart. If the heart energy is strong, the mind will easily rest but if the heart is in disharmony, insomnia can be one obvious sign. However, poor sleep or lack of sleep is not limited to inadequate heart energy and may extend to other organ disharmonies. Since, in TCM each organ has a time, be it day or night that it is said to be most abundant. This can be known as the ‘Qi clock’ which maps out the various times of the day and night that each organ is at its peak. Waking at these specific times can help us diagnose internal patterns of disharmony.
This is the time of the Pericardium. That is the protective outer layer of the heart. When there is lack of sleep at this time (if you’re lucky enough to be in bed at 9pm!) or there is an extra boost of energy experienced before bed, it can be an indication that the adrenals and thyroid need some care. Often for women suffering from hormone imbalance, this second-wind can be experienced and they don’t feel tired at all, even though they may have felt fatigued throughout the day. Wind down time is essential if you find yourself in this position, use this time to reset, meditate and prepare yourself for bed.
11pm – 1am
The Gallbladder energy is in full swing during these hours. If the heart and gall bladder are deficient, there can be waking at this time. Characteristics of weak gall bladder energy include being timid, fearful and indecisive. Of course, the gall bladder from a western sense does so much more, it helps us secrete bile to benefit digestion. If there is waking with pain at this time of the night, it’s important to check in with your doctor as it may be an indication of an upset gall bladder and gall stones.
1am – 3am
This is the most common symptom I see in clinic, waking between the hours of 1am and 3am. It is associated with the liver energy and often something experienced when patients have been drinking alcohol. In TCM we say that we may see waking and insomnia at this time if the liver energy is overwhelmed by the detoxification process. Often people who are experiencing liver disharmony will find themselves prone to anger, headaches, and constipation. If this is you, the Liver Cleanse would be ideal.
3am – 5am
Lung energy is in full swing between these early hours of the morning. Often patients may wake coughing at this time and find it hard to get back to sleep, a key symptom associated with lung disharmony. The lungs are also associated with sadness and grief. If there is any unresolved emotion it is important to look into this too. It may be the reason behind your lack of sleep or inability to sleep.
5am – 7am
Waking at this time indicates that your Large Intestine or more broadly, your gut may need some TLC. Many patients who find themselves waking to urgently go to the bathroom in these hours benefit from addressing digestive issues. Working on the gut is something we’re totally across over here at Your Tea – we’ve so much on offer. We’ve got you and your digestive health well and truly covered, start with a Digestive Herbs, formerly Tiny Tea cleanse.
Whilst TCM theory can be a little difficult to grasp, the rhythm of Qi through the channels can tell us a lot about the internal landscape of the body. In my research into sleep, many of these times do match up to physiologically what is going on in the body, especially in terms of detoxification and regeneration. This happens during certain phases of sleep.
If you are finding sleep a challenge, it is essential for good health you get to the bottom of the issue, this will make a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing and have you feeling wonderful sooner, rather than later.
With Love, Nat
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