Healthy Living from the Perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Improving your Sleep

Sleep is indispensable and a way for the body to rest and recover. As one of the pillars of health, quality sleep can become more and more difficult due to aging or disturbances in one’s personal or work life. Unfortunately this often leads to a vicious cycle of poor sleep and poor health that is difficult to break out of.

Here are some health tips to help you improve your sleep onset and quality. If you are experiencing more serious sleep issues it is best to consult a practitioner to tailor a plan for you and make sure you are on the right track.

  1. Avoid Overeating before bed

At night the digestive system is weaker and eating large meals just before bed causes the food to sit in the stomach. This affects sleep onset and also leads to indigestion, weight gain and feeling tired upon waking. If you feel hungry, eating light snacks before bed is advisable and you may take short walks after meals to help peristaltic movement.

  1. Calm the emotions before bed

As the sun sets, people should also start to wind down and do less activities. This also means the emotions should be calm before sleep to help the spirit relax. Some people do heavy exercise at night to force themselves to feel tired. It is best to avoid this as the condition will become more severe as the body becomes weaker over time. The cause is usually irritability and so stress relieving activities such as meditation, light walking and passive exercise are advisable.

  1. Avoid talking excessively before bed.

This can disrupt the spirit and lead to overthinking and excessive dreaming. Of course this depends on the contents of the speech. It is best to leave the troubles of the day to tomorrow.

  1. Take a footbath before bed

This helps to improve sleep onset and is especially beneficial if you are prone to overthinking, working nightshifts or elderly. In traditional thinking when your mind is active, the energy is concentrated in the upper body. A footbath brings the mind’s focus down to the feet and so helps to reduce overthinking. Having a relaxing foot massage also works and is good for those suffering from hot feet. As a bonus, a footbath warms the feet which is helpful as cold feet can affect sleep onset.

You may also use herbs in the footbath to increase the effect. Here are a few suggestions:

*Black tea: Good for cold symptoms, reduce sweating in the feet

*Chrysanthemum: Good for stress related insomnia, red eyes

*Lavender: Good to relieve stress, calming

  1. Warm the stomach before bed

This is a traditional technique to help calm the emotions and improve sleep onset. You may drink ginger tea or barley tea (no caffeine) which helps to warm the body. Please note that drinking too close to bedtime will cause you to wake up for urination. At least 45 minutes or 1 hour before bedtime is sufficient. Alcohol is not advised as the warming function is too strong and disturbs the spirit leading to restless sleep.

Experiencing sleep issues?

Reserve a session with our acupuncturist Jack at Mona Vale to see how we can help you!

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