HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP
(USING TCM CONCEPTS)
Learn to prepare for better sleep and how you can transition your body and mind from a yang to a yin state as evenings nears and you’re preparing to go to bed. Learn some simply Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and how to apply this to your lifestyle and life to create a healthier and more balanced life!
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
How to use this guide:
- Some tips and tricks to help replenish yin and increase yin while yang recedes as part of our evening and sleep routines.
- Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor.
- You can follow this post for what ingredients are cooling or warming for soups and teas as a start.
Some applied TCM concepts to help:
- Drink more yin nourishing teas instead of yang nourishing teas at least 3 hours before sleep. These teas help calm and slow down the body and mind, which tend to be more cooling (as warm teas make the blood speed up and move us into a yang state). Examples of teas are: Honeysuckle honey tea, Chrysanthemum honey tea, white ginseng teas or soup.
- Avoid yang enhancing (or warming) foods right before sleeping. This includes: spicy and fried foods, caffeine, herbs such as garlic and ginger, dong quai, or red dates. These foods increase yang and get your blood flowing, which is not what we want!
- Allow the body and mind to come into a yin state. This means being in that calm, steady, slower flow so that it can really slow down. Don’t exercise before sleep or this heightens the yang in your body. If your mind is very active, like you’ve just had an argument, you were studying, or doing some work, spend some time to help it transition into a yin state by doing some meditating, breathing, counting sheep (now we know why we count sheep!), or anything to slow down the yin in the mind is helpful.
- Reduce the temperature to allow for our body to transition into yin as yang recedes. As Yin is the cooler, slower state, a lower thermostat will allow our body to be in more yin and supporting deeper sleep. Read more here on “Using TCM concepts in our every day lives“.
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For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles. Here are some to read up on:
- Shen, 2007, “Yin Deficiency”, Science Direct [online], “https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/yin-deficiency“
- Ting-Ting Jiang,Ji-Cheng L, 2020, “Review on the systems biology research of Yin-deficiency-heat syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine”, American Association for Anatomy [online], “https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ar.24354″