"Early to bed, early to rise" has been well-regarded health advice since ancient times. An ancient Chinese saying says, "Work since sunrise and rest at sunset." But why is sleep so important? The idea of activity beginning at sunrise and ending at sunset aligns with the laws of nature and the human body's internal processes.
For example, between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., the gallbladder and liver meridians are in full swing, and this is the best time to sleep. During this period, activities such as often staying up late, eating late-night snacks, or drinking alcohol are more likely to damage the liver and prevent it from performing its normal detoxification functionality, which may cause liver and gallbladder complications. In addition, the abnormal bile secretion that follows can also cause digestive tract problems.
6 Benefits of Sleep
1. Boosts Weight LossQuality sleep can lead to weight loss, partially determined by the time you fall asleep. It is also closely related to the hormones produced during sleep.
What hormones are produced during sleep?
The first is growth hormone, produced between 10:00 p.m. and 2 a.m. This hormone helps children grow. In adults, it helps break down fat and promotes anti-aging. Going to bed at 10 p.m. will aid growth hormone production.
The second hormone is cortisol, secreted between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Cortisol can break down fat and sugar. Don't stay up late; avoid interrupting your sleep at night to achieve the best weight loss effects.
The research team collected data on the sleeping habits of 80 randomly selected participants and tracked their weight changes over six years. Previous data show that the average sleep time for this group was usually less than six and a half hours.
2. Prolongs LifeMost people who live long lives value sleep. A good night's sleep can allow organs to get enough rest, maintain normal operation, and avoid illness. Sleep also relieves stress, which can help you keep a better mood and thus extend your life.
3. Improves MoodAccording to TCM theory, the liver oversees emotions. During insomnia, one has a lot of liver heat, leading to a bad temper. For instance, women often have insufficient liver blood during menstruation, leading to poor mood. Therefore, it is best to go to bed before 11 p.m. to nourish the liver and improve spirit and mood.
In the study, researchers asked 42 participants to alter their sleep patterns over a two-week experimental period. The participants started off sleeping normally for five consecutive nights, but after a two-day buffer, they were asked to sleep less than five hours for five straight days. During the sleep-restricted phase, participants fell asleep at about 2 a.m. and woke up at 7 a.m.
4. Clears the MindAfter the brain is fully rested, thinking will become sharper, improving work or study efficiency.
5. Prevents DiseaseThe lymphatic system secretes T cells that can engulf bacteria and viruses. Sleep can strengthen the lymphatic system, thereby strengthening the immune system. This is why doctors often say that when you have a cold, you should rest more and don't stay up late to keep your immune system functioning properly. The endocrine system also balances while you sleep to help the body prevent diseases.
6. Nourishes ComplexionQuality sleep can promote skin metabolism and has beautifying and anti-aging benefits. Studies have also shown that there is such a thing as beauty sleep, and people who don't get enough tend to be less attractive to others.
This study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science involved 25 people, including 11 men and 14 women. Participants first got a good night's sleep two nights in a row. After a week, they could only sleep four hours a night for two consecutive days.
Afterward, researchers took photos of them without makeup. The researchers then asked 122 men and women living in Stockholm to look at the photos and evaluate the attractiveness, health, sleepiness, and trustworthiness of these people, asking, "How much would you like to socialize with this person (in the photo)?"
The raters could tell when someone looked tired; if the person looked sleepy, their attractiveness score would drop. Raters also said they were less willing to socialize with people who looked tired and less healthy.
3 Things That Prevent Quality SleepSo how do you get good sleep and stay healthy?
- Don't touch your phone before bed: Playing with your phone before bed will stimulate you, and you won't feel sleepy. If you play with your phone in a place with insufficient light, the blue light from the screen will also hurt your eyes. Going to bed late inhibits the brain from secreting melatonin, an antioxidant that increases immunity. You don't need to take melatonin supplements because the chemical will be secreted naturally if you sleep well. It's best to naturally boost melatonin production by consuming milk, eggs, bananas, and other foods containing tryptophan. Tryptophan is the raw material that helps the body produce melatonin and serotonin.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night: Go to bed and wake up regularly every day, even on holidays and weekends. When you get used to it, you will naturally go to sleep or wake up at the same time. This is thanks to your biological clock.
- Don't eat greasy food before going to bed: It is best not to eat supper or drink alcohol before going to bed, and do not eat fried food or sweets. Instead, if you are hungry, drink a small cup of warm milk without sugar to satisfy your hunger and help you sleep.
Sleeping Too Much Is Not Conducive to HealthSleeping more than nine hours is sleeping too much. TCM has a saying: “Prolonged lying hurts qi." Lying down for too long will cause blood circulation to lose its natural rhythm, slow the heartbeat and blood flow, affect gastrointestinal peristalsis, and cause indigestion. In addition, if a person has no appetite, he will have no energy. In TCM, this is called qi deficiency, leading to physical fatigue, lack of vitality, inactivity, and drowsiness.
Therefore, sleeping too much will disrupt both your waking and sleep schedules. To stay in good health, you must maintain a proper work-rest balance. As the saying goes: "If you want to live, you have to move." I have found that many Japanese people are still working 70 or 80 years old. They use work to move their joints, promote blood circulation, and make their lives healthier and more meaningful.