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Daily Habits: Sleep

My teachers often go over the daily habits recommended for good health according to traditional Thai medicine. In late summer, with the days finally starting to shorten a little, we've been talking a lot at home about our sleep patterns.

We don't have curtains everywhere, so we get quite a lot of natural light in our home. In the summer, with the sun rising just after 5am and setting after 10pm, it's really hard to get enough sleep. And if we want to watch a movie in the summer, we have to wait for our living room to darken enough for our projection screen to be visible.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected our sleep patterns as well. Although we are not enjoying our usual late-night social activities, some of them have moved online and we try to enjoy those as often as possible. Further, as for most people, it has probably affected our stress levels, which are also affected by personal life events and even normal daily life.

So what does Thai medicine recommend that's helpful in this? Without going into a full list of all the recommendations I've received from my teachers, here are some I might not have thought about.

Do not sleep during the day. Yep, no napping! Matt likes to nap, but has been working on just having a rest time during the day instead of a nap. The other day he commented, "sometimes I feel tired earlier in the evening but then I pep back up and those are the nights I have the hardest time sleeping well." And that leads to TWO other things in this list:

Go to sleep (not to bed, but to sleep) before 10pm. I imagine one doesn't need much napping if one is asleep before 10 every night.

For balancing Wind element: Try to go to bed at night when you first feel tired. If you stay up past the first wave of exhaustion, insomnia is likely.

For balancing Fire: Go to sleep before midnight.

For balancing Water: Wake early and do not sleep during the day.

I know, I know. I have not talked about element imbalances in any detail on this little blog. Let's be super simplistic, here. Wind is movement, and an imbalance can either be too much movement (physical or mental) or too little, which are commonly notable in sleep disturbances. Fire is heat & reactivity, and an imbalance may show you more easily angered or upset, too driven or perhaps not driven enough. Water is liquidity and cohesion, and an imbalance can be demonstrated by depression, too much attachment, unwillingness to move. Again, this is a very very simplistic summary. Do not go self-diagnosing for anything if you relate strongly to anything. If it's a concern, please talk to your doctor or health care professional.

Would you like to learn more about Thai element theory? A good place to start is Nephyr Jacobsen's book 7 Peppercorns. I linked to a description of the book versus a retail link because it is available on most websites, and she would encourage you to buy from your local retailer. She would also probably be horrified by my over-simplification of elemental imbalances.



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