Nature has a rhythm. An ebb and flow of energy. This flow of energy is primarily powered by the sun. It can be observed in how much sunlight hours that we receive at particular times of year.
In the summer we experience more sunlight hours and warmer temperatures. It is during this time in Traditional Asian Medicine, we say that the “qi” or if you will, energy is more to the surface of the body. Where our qi resides in relationship to the outside world affects how we as Traditional Asian Medicine practitioners help our patients, from the type of acupuncture treatments we give, to food, lifestyle and herbal recommendations.
In following the patterns of nature, the classic texts of Traditional Asian Medicine say that summer is the one season, where we can afford to go to sleep later, without negatively impacting health and well-being. Winter, however is a totally different story. Less sunlight hours and colder temperatures during the winter months, drive the qi of our bodies deeper within. Our bodies have to work harder to maintain warmth and need more rest. Following the patterns of the sun during winter, the classical text recommended that we retire earlier.
While the advent of electrical lighting was an extremely useful and helpful technological gain (we can turn lights on and off whenever we want, which was not always the case in history!), it is important to remember that our hitting a light switch when it is dark outside is man made, not dictated by nature. Darker months, i.e. months with less sunlight hours are meant for increased rest. When this pattern of nature is followed, many people experience increased vitality and robust health. Especially in a day and age where so many of us tend to be on overdrive and burn the candle at both ends, it is important to use the winter to rest and replenish, the same way the earth does, until spring.
Many of us may not have this “luxury”, to get to bed earlier during winter. For example, those who are up with babies during the night, work night shifts, or have other obligations. If this is you, just do your best by getting to bed earlier when the opportunity arises. If you have difficulty sleeping through the night, consider getting to the root of that with a virtual consultation. The same cause that is affecting your sleep, has the potential to affect other aspects of your health as well, so it’s best to get ahead of any potential imbalance.
There are so many things that can make it difficult to get to bed earlier- one last scroll on social media, check of the news, or whatever project that may be on your mind. It is however well worth it to call it a night and pick the activity back up the next day. Sleep is perhaps the most revitalizing, replenishing activity that our bodies do to heal, and is especially important during winter. So get into bed on the earlier side through winter. How early? As close to the time that the sunsets that works for you and ideally no later than 9pm (10pm in other seasons). If you tend to be a night owl, just try to get to bed half an hour earlier for a few days, and then try another half hour until you are in range.
Wishing you rejuvenating sleep.
Love being a woman,