The key to good health is good rest. Quality sleep nourishes Qi (energy), restores rejuvenation, tonifies the spleen and stomach, and enhances bones and tendons
The No.1 enemy of most modern people is sleeping problems. In 2017, reports showed that 69.4% of the total population of the world suffered from poor sleep quality, and the main symptom was that people’s sleeping hours had been clearly reduced over the years (8.8 hours on average in 2013 and 6.5 hours on average in 2018, meaning 35% decrease just within six years). Meanwhile, 38.2% of Chinese people have sleeping problems, 11.2% higher than the global average. Problems include difficulty falling asleep, light sleep, frequent wake-ups and dreaminess.
The report also showed that the average time for people to fall asleep is at 00:07, which means that many people enjoy burning the midnight oil. In fact, we are instead burning our own health. Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as modern studies all prove the importance of sleep.
Wen Zhi, the famous doctor in the Warring States Period, once said to King Wei of Qi: “I give priority to sleep. Both man and animals can thrive when they have enough sleep. Sleep also helps the stomach to digest food. It is the first thing for health preservation. If people are deprived of sleep for just one night, the loss cannot be compensated even by 100 hundred days’ of good sleep afterwards.” Ordinary people also know that “food is a better healing method than medicine and that sleep is the best.”
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, from 21:00 to 23:00, man’s triple energizer meridian, known to connect all blood vessels in the body, is most active. From 23:00 to 01:00, the gallbladder meridian, known to be in charge yang-qi (energy), is working. Therefore, if people fall asleep before 23:00, they will get sufficient yang-qi, and will have a good body and mental state. Most centenarians go to sleep before 21:00 every day.
From 01:00 to 03:00, the liver meridian is most active. According to Huangdi Neijing (The Inner Canon of Huangdi), blood flows to the liver when one lies down. The optical time for the liver to nourish and produce blood is from 21:00 to 03:00. So if someone stays up to 01:00 every day, the blood will not be able to flow to the liver. As a result, the toxic blood cannot be cast out and fresh blood cannot be produced. Without the nourishment of qi and blood, the body’s inner organs will fall out of balance, then diseases occur.
TCM believes that there are five “No’s” before sleep. No over-eating: have light food during the supper and don’t make yourself too full. 70%-80% satiety is ideal. No over-exercising: avoid activities that may disturb yang-qi of the heart, such as watching TV, drinking alcohol and chatting. No over-thinking: calm down the mind before sleep. No over-time: after 23:00, the gallbladder meridian is working and the yang qi is rising, so people become more energetic and find it hard to fall asleep. As a result, the liver and gall qi is consumed and evil qi enters the body. No wind-coldness: close the windows and adjust air conditioners to protect the yang-qi of the body surface.
The next question is how to fall asleep quicker, improve deep sleep and guarantee proper sleep hours. Everyone can explore his own ways, such as feet bathing, a shower, soothing tea, music, aromatherapy, meditation, before-sleep exercises etc.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the methods above are meant to soothe the nerves. To be more specific, they can lead the blood flow to the various parts of the body and thus decrease the blood pressure on the brain. There are even more direct ways known as “ensuring proper downward flow of the blood”.
From one aspect, it means leading the congested blood or normal blood flow downward. The downward position is a comparative concept referring to the half bottom of the body when one stands erectly. From the other aspect, it has further implications, referring to slowing down the overrunning blood flow. TCM, regarding sleep as a way to rest the brain and body, often resorts to foot care to improve sleep quality.
In Yunnan and Guizhou, in the southwest area of China, there is a traditional recipe based on the “blood flow downward” theory to improve sleep quality. It is a plaster mainly containing the plateau medicinal rose, as well as lavender, gastrodia elata, poria cocos, and spina date seeds. Stick the plaster to the Yongquan acupoint at the sole of the feet 30 minutes before you go to sleep and take it off the next morning when you rise. The traditional Chinese medicinal materials contained in the plaster are effective to invigorate the circulation of blood and soothe the nerves. Working through the Yongquan acupoint, it speeds up the blood circulation of the feet and thus decreases blood pressure on the brain so as to make one sleep quicker and improve deep sleep quality. Meanwhile, it also assists the meridians to accomplish their renewing work during the night and makes one completely refreshed the next morning.
Unlike the normal ornamental or dietary rose, the medicinal rose in the plaster is a rare species that is considered both as a medicine and food. It is cultivated in a very strictly regulated environment, far from heavy metals and other pollutants. The medicinal rose is effective in adjusting the flow of vital energy, invigorating the blood circulation and regulating menstruation. The rose’s flower bud is always used to make medicine while its leaf and root also have medicinal values. The small-leafed rose grown on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau boasts medicinal effects 1.3 times more than those grown in flat areas. Now the foot patch made of this plateau small-leafed rose has been launched in the market. It is an excellent sleep assistance product based on TCM theory and you can take it anywhere you go.