A Time To Sleep
I'm sitting on the balcony listening to and watching dawn rise over the SanLucia valley in Gran Canaria. What a pleasure. But I was awake early so am having that modern worry that I've not had 'enough sleep'.
So I'm pleased that Western science has caught up with Chinese medicine and it's only taken a couple of thousand years. Nobel prize scientists have just discovered that not only do we are whole beings work on a circadian rhythm but that our very cells have inbuilt clocks. Apparently in the past decade, scientists have shown that clock genes are active in almost every cell type in the body. The activity of blood, liver, kidney and lung cells in a petri dish all rise and fall on a roughly 24-hour cycle. Scientists have also found that the activity of around half our genes appear to be under circadian control, following undulating on-off cycles.
From the 2nd century BCE a book called 'The Yellow Emperors Inner Classic' was giving advice about how important regular sleep is (and regular other things such as eating and working) in accordance with the cycles of the days and seasons, was to a long and healthy life.
In the 17th century Li Yu in a book called 'Collected Works of an Old Man with a Bamboo Hat' (what a fab title) says sleep can regenerate energy, improve health, invigorate the digestion and strengthen the bones and muscles. In fact regularity is the secret of health.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has always recognised the importance of the time time of day for the functioning of the organs which is why you will always get advice from your acupuncturist about when it's best for you to eat, sleep, work, rest and play.
I'm just concerned that sometimes I'm not that good at following the century old advice. But today, when I think about it, my body has told me that I've had enough sleep and I'm actually waking up in accordance with the natural rhythms of the day. The cacophony of cockle doodle doing seems to suggest that anyway.
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Gaynor Hollis is a Classical Five Element Acupuncturist with a thriving practice in Birmingham. She is interested in all things healthy and life style related not just Chinese and Japanese acupuncture.