Sleep is the body’s opportunity for healing and recovery. Many physiological processes take place during nighttime sleep that cannot take place at any other time of day. Without restorative sleep each night, daytime stresses easily build up and throw the body out of balance.
Insomnia and interrupted sleep are issue for many people all year around, but can worsen in springtime due to the shift to towards the Liver as a focus of the body’s energies. If poor sleep is an issue, there are various lifestyle and behavioural changes that one can make to improve one’s situation:
(1) Right preparation: The evening is a time that should be set aside for winding down and relaxation. Restorative sleep should be understood in the context of a 24 hour cycle of activity. Stimulating activities such as exercise, screen time and even showering should be carried out earlier in the day and avoided in the late hours of evening.
(2) Right position: The ideal position for sleeping for the human body is lying on the back (face up) on a firm mattress with a low pillow. In this position gravity can passively straighten the spine and relieve pressure on the hip, shoulder and vertebral joints.
(3) Right breathing: The general rule is that one should breathe through the nose whenever possible (unless one is eating or speaking). This is especially important at night time when the body’s defences are down and the respiratory tract more susceptible to the effects of cold and dry air as well as airborne pathogens. A trick one can use to guard against open mouth breathing while asleep is to place tape over one’s lips before one goes to sleep.
When behaviour and lifestyle changes are not enough to break the cycle of poor night time sleep, acupuncture can help. With acupuncture it is possible to relax tensions that accumulate as a result of stress. It can also help calm the heart (the Shen) and settle the hyperactive energy of the Liver. Any organ that is weak or exhausted can also disrupt the smooth rhythm of the body’s 24 hour diurnal cycle, causing imbalance and disease. Acupuncture is able to strengthen weak and exhausted organs and help return the body to a state of balance.