We make mattresses, so obviously we love everything about sleep and getting the “best” sleep possible. Here’s a great take on how to achieve optimal sleep, written by my amazing, holistic healthcare practitioner, Eutimia Cruz Montoya.
You’ve heard about Yin and Yang. They represent the duality that is present in all of nature. Yin represents the female principle; it is cool, solid, yielding, dark, water and earth. Yang represents the male principle; it is hot, moving, forceful, airy, fire and sky. Everything on this earth has components of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang oppose one another, depend on one another, consume one another, and transform into one another. Our entire picture of health depends on how we are able to accommodate the shifts of Yin and Yang within our own bodies, and within our environments.
Sleep is a Yin activity. Sleep is restorative and restful. It allows for the renewal of our energy through quiet receiving. Night is also Yin. Night is dark, cool, and quiet. According to the Tao, or, the laws of how all life is interwoven and progressing, we are all always affected by the movements of our internal and external environments. The nature of every season, every food, every emotion, every sound, has an energetic pull on us, and our body, mind, spirit complex. In order for us to be without uncomfortable symptoms, the qualities of these internal and external energetic pulls must be enhancing and balancing one another.
Therefore, my friends, the best, most enhancing, restorative and regenerative sleep, happens at night. That is, we get the most support from our external and internal environments, during Yin processes (like sleep) when we sleep during Yin hours (at night). According to Traditional Chinese Medicine all organs function at their optimal capacities during specific hours of the clock. The blood restores itself at Yin time, in the Liver, between 1-3am. Yang functions, like eating, that require an active process, such as digestion, are more apt during Yang time, during the day. For example, the most optimal time to eat is during Stomach time, from 7-9am, therefore, Chinese Medicine looks favorably upon consuming a large breakfast, as the Yang energy of the morning helps to facilitate our digestive functions.
If it is absolutely unavailable for you to be asleep by around 9pm, you can still create the most conducive Yin environment for your sleep. Make your sleeping space as dark, silent and comfortable as possible; make your space like a safe nest, so your body feels present and in-tune for the Yin process of sleep. If you have a hard time sleeping in general, you can add to the Yin principle of your constitution by participating in restorative practices like deep breathing, foot baths and self-massage. Yang energy, like heat, rises in the body. Therefore, generally, if we are having a hard time sleeping, we must descend Yang energy, and augment Yin energy. This can be accomplished with visualization and some lifestyle shifts.
To get better sleep:
Give yourself a nightly, warm foot bath. This will both send Yang energy down, and rise Yin energy to the Yin organs, offering the feeling of calm and support, and draining the go, go, go, do, do, do from the head, for easier, more restful sleep.
Do not eat before sleep! Digestion is a Yang activity. When we fill our stomach before sleepy time our system will be unable to digest to full capacity. This not only leads to unrestful sleep (with many vivid dreams), but could also exacerbate metabolic and digestive pathologies.
Lay off the spicy foods! Spicy foods have a HOT quality. Once again, heat rises. If we have too much Yang energy up top, it will be harder to fall into the depths of sleep.
Give technology a break before sleep. For the same reason of Yang energy activating the upper region (mind and heart) in the form of fast moving pixels, it will be easier to fall asleep after having offered a more calm (Yin) mental environment.
Consume fewer stimulants. You guessed it! Stimulants are full of Yang energy! Drinking lots of caffeine and consuming nicotine or other stimulant drugs (prescriptions included) will lessen the capacity for fully restful sleep.
Take some nice deep breaths intending energy downward. Deep breaths are known to slow the heart rate on their own. When coupled with intention to release excess Yang energy, and bring in calming Yin energy, our sleep will come sooner and be more restful.
May your sleep be dark, quiet, restful and restorative!
Eutimia Cruz Montoya is a curandera (spiritual healer), herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, and Real Foods Activist. She grew up participating in indigenous American song, dance and prayer traditions, giving her an inborn connection to, and understanding of, Body and Source. Eutimia is a Stanford-trained anthropologist, and has been studying and practicing Classical Chinese Medicine since 2004. Most recently she has come home to her maternal Curanderismo (American indigenous medicine) roots and integrates all aspects of her medical knowledge in her private holistic healthcare practice in Denver, Colorado. As an educator, Eutimia is passionate about reigniting the fire of agency in Personal Well-Being through teaching the importance of environmental influences on whole body, mind and spirit health.
facebook.com/museinmedicine | Eutimia@gmail.com