Sleep before midnight
I was chatting to my friend earlier about the importance of getting sleep before midnight. She thought that as long as you got 8 hours it didn’t matter when you got them. But I had a vague memory of something to do with Chinese medicine having a different organ attributed to each hour of the day and had read somewhere that Ayurvedic (Tradional Indian holistic medicine system) practices say sleep before midnight is valuable, but I couldn’t remember why.
So, I’ve done some research and this is what I’ve come up with:
According to Ayurveda sleep is the foundation of staying connected to nature’s rhythms. Not only this but the best quality sleep is available from 10-2am. These 4 hours are a Pitta time and recharge your batteries (helping you build prana). So Ayurveda recommends a bedtime routine. Starting with a sesame oil full body massage —including your head, but not your feet—before your shower or bath. Then get into bed with no TV, computer or exciting novel, rub some sesame or castor oil on your feet, and pull on some socks to protect your sheets. Lights out by 10pm!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) they do attribute body systems/organ systems (their qualification of organs is somewhat different to ours in the west) to 2 hourly segments of the day and night. During this time is when the organ system is at its “peak”. Peak time of an organ happens when Qi energy is flowing through the meridian that affects that particular organ. So whatever you do during that time will effect that organ even more than usual. So, I guess, if you’re asleep the body will use the Qi flowing through that organ to heal it as you rest it. TCM researchers also linked certain emotions to each organ. These specific emotions can hinder or aid a certain organ’s function. Between 9pm and 11pm are the hours of the triple burner, responsible for generating energy on a physical level and the emotions of joy or guilt. Between 11pm and 1am it is the time of the gall bladder, responsible for processing fats on a physical level and dealing with anger on an emotional level.
If you follow the link you can click on each organ system and see the emotional connections.
I think the emotional correlations are really important. We’re often so busy during the day and do not have time to deal with stuff that is coming up, thought processes are not completed due to interruptions or other distractions. I believe that the mind and body completes these processes during sleep so if you’re missing out on sleeping during the gallbladder phase you could be depriving yourself of the chance of dealing with buried anger issues. In fact, what a lot of people do is have an alcoholic drink at this time, which is only going to put more strain on the gallbladder and mask your emotions under the glow of the alcohol.
To briefly look at something more conventionally scientific, Dr Sarah Myhill’s who treats people with chronic fatigue says that it’s ideal to sleep for nine hours, if possible between 9:30pm and 6:30am (during hours of darkness, a bit less for summer, bit more for winter). She says that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after because human growth hormone is (HGH) produced during the hours of sleep before midnight. As we pass 20 years of age, our Pituitary Gland begins to slow down, producing ever decreasing levels of HGH. This decrease is, on average, 14% every 10 years. By the time we are 65, most of us are producing little or no HGH. It is this decline in HGH levels that lead to many of the symptoms that we all associate with ageing; wrinkled skin, expanding waistlines, and less energy and vitality.
Right, I’m off to bed!