Lack of sleep severely impacts our body’s ability to function, regulate appetite and be defended by its immune system.

Your ability to go to sleep is not just dependent on what happens at bedtime but also what you have done during the day. Therefore, preparation for a good night involves having a good day where you pace yourself, avoid stress, have physical exercise, enjoy natural light and, ideally, have self-care practices such as mindfulness built into your day. Non-caffeinated drinks and stress-reducing herbal teas through the day, such as those found under Your Day, may be helpful in preparing you for a good night. For more information about the body’s stress response, effects of caffeine and foods to include or exclude for a good night’s sleep, keep reading below and download our free guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

 

All things in Traditional Oriental Medicine originate in the relationship between yin and yang. As night time is yin time, yin must be healthy in relation to yang in order for one to stay asleep. If yin is deficient, the heart (mind) cannot settle and yang may ascend.  This may have you feel wired and tired, anxious and irritated. Blood must be abundant in different organs (e.g. heart and liver) for one to have deep, nourished sleep. Imbalances in qi, blood or yin can make for sleep disturbances such as frequent waking, dream disturbed sleep, sleepwalking and inability to fall asleep. 

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Coming back to yin: your guide to getting a nourished night’s sleep

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getting a nourished night’s sleep

Food

Adding foods to the daily diet that tonify the blood, gently move qi, anchor yang and nourish the yin is a great place to start for preparing for a good night’s sleep. 

  • Chinese dates & goji berries can nourish blood as calm anxiety. See our blend for porridge in our guide to ‘Getting a Good Night’s Sleep’.

  • Ashwaganda is an adaptogen that is gentle & calming. Please see our recipe for a delicious chai (no caffeine) you may have before bed in our guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. 

  • Caffeine, the world’s most consumed drug, is a potent brain stimulant & its effects are still being researched (1). Studies show some caffeine intake may be neuro-protective in the long-term. However, it should not be taken in the second half of the day & must be avoided altogether if you are experiencing ongoing insomnia. Try drinking TranquiliTea in the evening & some non-caffeinated calming teas from our Your Day collection during the day.

  • Alcohol is best avoided in the hours before bed. Even though it may make you feel drowsy, alcohol disrupts sleep.

  • Avoid eating fatty or spicy foods & any large meals 3 hours before bed. Foods containing the essential amino acid tryptophan (e.g. turkey, eggs, chicken, fish, pumpkin & sesame seeds) may promote sleep. Since carbohydrates make tryptophan more accessible to the brain, an evening snack could consist of turkey on a cracker. 

  

Light and Electrical Devices

Light exposure can cause our biological clock to advance or delay, which affects our sleep and wake cycle. Since the invention of the electric light bulb in the late 19th century we have been altering our natural daily pattern of light exposure, exposing ourselves to more light during the evening than at any point during our evolution. Now, our digital devices - mobile phones, iPads, TV and computer screens - are the modern curse to good sleep. These devices emit blue light, the type of light found naturally during daytime. So, when we look at a digital device, our brain is fooled into thinking it is daytime - our body stops releasing the sleep hormone melatonin, which normally starts being released a couple of hours before bedtime as our body’s signal to help us wind down. To help your body synchronise its biological clock:

  • Aim to get a good amount of natural light during the day

  • Reduce light during the evening, dimming household lighting where possible

  • Avoid screens during the evening & certainly for an hour or two before bedtime. This is essential for children & teenagers too.

  • Wear a sleeping mask or use black-out curtains in the bedroom. It has been shown that even a small amount of light can disrupt serotonin, a precursor to melatonin, the hormone essential for good sleep.  

 

Other holistic ways to promote sleep 

  • Soaking feet in warm water & a couple of drops of lavender oil eases one into parasympathetic mode to prepare for good sleep. 

  • A spritz of diluted lavender oil onto one’s bedsheets or pillow can be deeply calming. 

  • Mindful breathing, even if done for as little as 5 minutes before bed can also help to bring you into a parasympathetic state. 

  • Delicate self massage on specific acupressure points can aid in preparing the body for sleep. Please see our video explaining acupressure points.

  • Practicing gratitude before bed is helpful to bring the mind to a positive & peaceful state. You may state out loud or write down (possibly in a journal) one or more things you have been grateful for that day. Ending your day with gratitude & positivity, along with a cup of TranquiliTea, should set you up nicely for dreamland.

 

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/06/29/three-things-caffeine-does-in-your-brain/#5227ed8c1876 

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