If you have been doing everything you can about eating and living healthy, consider one of the most important things you need to do, that is to have quality, deep sleep. We often focus on nutrition and exercise but the timing and hours that we sleep are really crucial as they do more for our body than just rest.
Rejuvenation And Restoration While You Sleep
A few important things happen to your body when you sleep:
- Your brain organizes and sorts data collected during the day, putting away “useless and unpleasant” information, whilst helping you to recall important information that you want to remember. With lack of sleep, recalling information becomes difficult.
- Your body continues to burn fats from the exercises/physical movements you do during the day.
- Your body is relaxed and many functions are slowed down, allowing energy to be used for repairing tissues instead. Healing and regeneration take place, using the nutrition you consumed during your waking hours.
- Your digestive system and peristaltic movements are slowed down during sleep, so it is always advisable not to have a heavy meal after 7PM. This is necessary to “save energy” for the “more important” work of restoration.
- When sleeping at the right times according to your body’s Meridian Clock, hormone production is regulated to keep your body functioning smoothly, improve your immune system, and to keep you feeling wakeful and alert during the day.
- During deep sleep, the skin’s metabolic rate speeds up cells production for the repair of damage from UV rays and other environmental toxic factors, improving skin appearance in the morning. That’s your beauty sleep for you!
- Your detoxification organs take turns during the night to process and filter out toxins for elimination. This is why you will need to visit the washroom in the morning when you are awake.
There are many more functions and processes that go on in the body when we sleep that we may never know about. Our wonderfully-designed body is very intelligent and complex. When we give it the adequate sleep and rest that it requires, together with the right nutrition, it can heal itself.
As you can see, there are many rejuvenation and restoration that take place while you sleep. Depriving your body of sleep will retard most of these processes, making your body “sluggish”.
Circadian Rhythm And The Meridian Clock
Circadian rhythms are biochemical, physiological and behavioral cycles in our bodies, which period is approximately 24 hours. Most of our body’s major physiological functions work in conjunction with the time of day.
Day And Night
For example, during day time according to our internal biological clock, that is between 6AM and 6PM (“Yang” in TCM) activities include working, exercising and eating.
During night time, that is between 6PM and 6AM (“Yin” in TCM) activities include relaxing, sleeping and healing.
Ideal Time To Sleep
Although people who work night shifts and those who sleep late don’t like to hear this, in an ideal world, falling asleep by 11PM will do wonders for your health, according to the Circadian Rhythm and TCM’s (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Meridian Clock. In the long run, your health suffers when your body is not getting the rest it requires in the right amount, and at the right timing.
The Meridian Clock
According to the Meridian Clock—which is a reliable tool used by ancient TCM to guide people back to health—each meridian comes into its highest action at a certain time of the day, in blocks of about two hours. Understanding these timings and honoring them, honors your body’s optimal healing ability.
The study of the Meridian Clock is a very complex but interesting concept. Here’s just a brief overview of what the timings mean and what you need to do in response:
1AM to 3AM Liver: Our liver is one of the most important detox organs and it is crucial for us to be in bed by 11PM in order to get to deep sleep status by this time. Not honoring this time in the long-term may cause premature aging and hormonal imbalance. Other symptoms affect the reproductive system, liver diseases and depression.
3AM to 5AM Lungs: This is when the meridian that services the lungs is strongest. Of course, we are always breathing but during these hours the lungs are given a boost of energy and are replenished for the day ahead.
In order to breathe, the body has to be relaxed, so waking up during this time could indicate a blockage or inability to go with the flow and relax into the direction that life is taking you.
If you have a cough or respiratory problem, you may often wake up about this time as your lungs are expelling toxins.
The lungs also symbolise where we process grief and sadness, so if you have been feeling emotional you may also wake around this time. In order to ease any emotional feelings at this time, try to release control over events and have more faith and trust in the flow of the Universe. You may also benefit from taking deep, conscious breaths.
5AM to 7AM Large Intestine: A normal healthy person would have the first bowel movement of the day following this detoxification time. It is not a good time to drink coffee as it is diuretic and may hinder evacuation. Drink a glass of warm lemon water (or just warm water) to help the bowels to move along. Not honoring these may cause problems like sinus, weight gain and skin allergies.
7AM to 9AM Stomach: Stomach energy is highest during this time, so eat the most important and quality meal of the day to optimize digestion and energy for the day. See some breakfast ideas.
9AM to 11AM Spleen: The spleen supports metabolism of food and is responsible for converting nutrients into energy. When you skip breakfast, then there is no new energy converted, putting the body into a “stress” mode. Insulin levels will fall, adrenaline levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. This leads to weight gain for eating the wrong things at the wrong time, and a host of other health issues.
11AM to 1PM Heart: This meridian is not only about the organ that circulates and maintains blood pressure, but it is also about your mood and mental wellbeing. It’s a time to connect with people, your loved ones, and doing something you’re passionate about. On the opposite end, at 11PM to 1AM is when the heart is at its weakest. Most heart-related incidents occur during this reversed energy time, so take things easy.
1PM to 3PM Small Intestine: The protein foods you ate in the morning will be fully digested by this time, with all the other nutrients being assimilated and distributed as appropriate. If you did not eat a healthy breakfast, this is about the time that you would experience an energy crash and may reach out for caffeine or sugar.
3PM to 5PM Bladder: Tea time! You might wonder why we have tea time just about this time. It is what your body calls for. Metabolic wastes from the day’s food intake will be cleared. Have a drink of quality herbal tea, or just plenty of water to help your bladder move along. These fluids are also beneficial for kidney cleansing in the next phase. People working sedentary jobs may feel fatigue and lower back pain at this time.
5PM to 7PM Kidneys: If you have an impaired kidney, some symptoms might show at this time—fatigue, poor circulation, cold limbs, water retention, dizziness and lower back pain. This is the best time to have a light meal before preparing for bed.
7PM to 9PM Pericardium: The pericardium is not just about the heart, but also about the brain and the reproductive organs, a feel-good time. This is not a good time to have a heavy meal but instead it is advisable to commune with family, friends and loved ones. It’s also a great time for making love!
9PM to 11PM Triple Warmer/Burner: This meridian relates to your functional energy system that is largely the endocrine glands and hormonal distribution systems. It is responsible for fighting off illnesses in your body. If balanced, you will experience a stable and contented mind that is at peace. If you are not able to relax by this hour, then you know that your triple burner is overloaded and you may feel some anxiety. Avoid eating after 9PM as your intestinal peristalsis is slowing down to shut down digestion.
11PM to 1AM Gallbladder: This is a time of cleansing of all tissues to process cholesterol (burning of fats) and preparing for liver detox at 1AM. It’s a cycle! If you have gallbladder stones, you may experience some discomfort around this time.
1AM to 3 AM Back to the Liver!
Our natural environment is filled with cyclical patterns and rhythms that ultimately originate from the configuration of our solar system. Just as the earth rotates around the sun, and the moon around the earth, our human brain also has its own cyclical behaviors.
By understanding how our Circadian Rhythm and Meridian Clock work, we can take advantage of doing the right thing at the right time, instead of working against our body’s rhythm. Every day or night that we do not honor this rhythm, little health issues are accumulated and causing us problems and we don’t realize that we are really inflicting sickness upon our own body.
Live a responsible life!