Total Harmony Medicine


The Importance of Sleep

In the short term, lack of sleep has an immediate effect on your mental and emotional state, but in the long term, poor sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic physical and mental health problems.

We all know that spending a single night without adequate sleep begins to affect our physical and mental capacity, similar to the situation of being drunk.

Our ability to solve problems decreases with each sleepless night, paranoia, hallucinations, and sleep-deprived psychosis can set in after as little as 24 hours without sleep, mimicking the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Lack of sleep affects our personal and professional life, causing various health problems.

And what are the causes of bad sleep?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), insomnia and other sleep disorders are the result of an imbalance in qi (energy). As qi circulates through the body, it flows through the “meridians” of the body, such as the lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, stomach, gallbladder, etc. Of the twelve main meridians, six are considered yin and six are considered yang, based on the ancient Taoist concept of yin and yang.

During the course of the day, the yin and yang energies in our body wax and wane. At night, yin (associated with coolness) predominates in the body, and during the day, yang (associated with heat) takes over.

Sleep disorders are generally attributed to imbalances of yin and yang within the body. Sleeping too much is a yang deficiency, while insomnia is a yin deficiency and is associated with poor circulation, spleen deficiency, or stress. Nightmares are associated with emotional imbalances or excess of rich foods.

Adults aged 18 to 60 years are recommended to sleep at least 7 hours each night, otherwise, they run the risk of becoming sleep deprived. Ignoring the importance of sleep may have an impact on your overall health. If you make it a priority, your body will reap the benefits of sleep.

When you sleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines that have immune-boosting effects and serve as fuel for your white blood cells. Lack of sleep decreases the production of cytokines and makes you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

Find your motivation to prioritize sleep by learning about why you need to get a good night’s rest.

One of the many benefits of getting a good night’s sleep is that it helps maintain a healthy body weight.

When you are sleep deprived your body alters the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. These hormones include:

  • Leptin: This hormone suppresses appetite and encourages the body to expend energy.
  • Ghrelin: This hormone triggers feelings of hunger.

Both of these hormones are thrown off when you are short on sleep—leptin goes down and ghrelin goes up.

To make matters worse, a recent study found that sleep deprivation can activate the endocannabinoid (eCB) system in our brain—the same areas activated by marijuana—that increase hunger and appetite. Stimulating the eCB reward system makes you more likely to crave junk food.

You are also more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices when you are tired. It is not uncommon for people to drink sugary drinks to stay awake, get takeout instead of cooking, or skip out on exercise. Consuming these empty calories or putting off exercise may be ok from time to time, but if chronic fatigue sets in, this can lead to weight gain or the development of obesity or diabetes over time.

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