If you don’t, you are part of a large group of Americans who do not get sufficient sleep. In Chinese Medicine, we say that if you do not get enough sleep you will become out of balance. Sleep is what we call a “Yin” activity. It is a time when your body is rebuilding and nourishing. When you are awake and moving around you are participating in a “Yang” activity. Essentially motion is yang and preparing for motion is yin. The balance of yin and yang is essential to good health.
A recent study referenced at Health.com, October 2012. discusses the link between sleep deprivation and obesity. http://news.health.com/2012/10/15/sleep-deprivation-insulin-resistance/ The researchers discovered that lack of sleep can increase obesity and Type II Diabetes. Inadequate sleep can actually increase insulin resistance. To make sure you understand what that is, read on…
A Lesson in Hormones, straight from Wikipedia:
Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. Cells are not able to take in glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Thus, glucose, fatty acids and amino acids ‘leak’ out of the cells. A decrease in insulin/glucagon ratio inhibits glycolysis which in turn decreases energy production. The resulting increase in blood glucose may raise levels outside the normal range and cause adverse health effects, depending on dietary conditions. Certain cell types such as fat and muscle cells require insulin to absorb glucose. When these cells fail to respond adequately to circulating insulin, blood glucose levels rise. The liver helps regulate glucose levels by reducing its secretion of glucose in the presence of insulin. This normal reduction in the liver’s glucose production may not occur in people with insulin resistance.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Just one of many conditions which are affected by lack of sleep is overweight and obese bodies. In brief, insulin is a hormone that manages the processing and balance of sugars in the body. High plasma levels of insulin and glucose due to insulin resistance are a major component of metabolic syndrome, a relatively-new scientific description for the disease of obesity. Scientists are still unclear of the precise mechanism that triggers the cells to be up to 3 times as resistant. But they have slapped a label on the problem. There is serious speculation that the hormones are involved. And lack of sleep is a culprit. It seems that, at night, hormones do work they cannot do when we are in “Yang” mode.
So What Can You Do about Lack of Sleep?
All the usual culprits need to be considered. Do you have a wind-down time? Are you having food (and the wrong kinds) too late? Do you have a fairly standard bedtime? These are all important lifestyle issues to examine.
In Chinese Medicine, the lack of sleep creates a Yin deficiency, and then the Yang functions do not work properly. This includes diminished Qi (energy in the body) and blood flow and a reduction of all of the active body processes that we need to keep us happy and healthy. We treat sleep deprivation with herbs (including special chocolate which has also been proven to reduce fat cell inflammation by 34% in one dose), acupuncture, lifestyle, and dietary choices. If you find yourself consistently not sleeping, remember that alternative medicine can help.
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To Your Health,
Doctor of Oriental Medicine