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Your journey to better health

Health Tip #8: Go to bed at the same time each night.

Today we continue with our Top Ten Health Tips for Everyone to promote health and wellness. Today's Tip:

Health Tip #8. Go to bed at the same time every night. So many patients that we see have sleep problems, regardless of what brings them in to acupuncture in the first place. Many patients don’t feel tired at night when it is time to go to sleep, while others are exhausted and go to bed early but then wake up during the night. We cannot stress enough the importance of getting into a healthy routine around sleep…if you don’t have any issues with sleep, then this is the time to do so! It will prevent years of fatigue and frustration down the road. If you do have sleep issues, getting into a regular bedtime routine can help dramatically (although the body takes time to unlearn old patterns of being, so be patient.)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on observations of the natural world, and attuning our bodies to those rhythms. Humans are not nocturnal animals - we are supposed to sleep at night. If we really want to adhere to TCM wisdom and be in tune with the natural world, we should go to bed early after the sun has gone down and get up with the sunrise. However, you and I both know that is in no way practical for most of us living in urban and suburban environments, and holding regular 9-5 jobs. However, it is very important to get to bed in the early portion of the night, before 11:00 pm. This allows your body to sync up with the natural day and night rhythms of the planet. In TCM, during sleep, your body produces the blood energy in your body, which you need to function optimally (or at all) during the day. Symptoms of a deficiency of blood energy include fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, problems with a women's cycle, trouble concentrating, problems healing, and many chronic diseases. So it is vital that you get enough sleep, and going to bed before 11:00 pm each night (if you don't work a night shift) can go a long way to allowing your body the time it needs to clean your blood, restore your blood and energy, and get you ready for the next day.

According to the American Psychological Association, the following behaviors can promote healthy sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
  • Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
  • Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

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