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Three More Sleep Tips for Summer (& Year-Round)

Updated: Jun 27

a cat sleeping on a white blanket

Hi Friends, by request, three more sleep tips to build on the list I sent out in my last post.

1. Avoid Eating Before Bed. This advice is a nice example of East meets West, as both schools of medicine more-or-less agree on this approach. 

In Chinese Medicine theory, the qi (energy) of the stomach is strongest from 7-9am (breakfast time!) which means it’s conversely weakest from 7-9pm. 7-9pm is the time when the Pericardium (Heart Protector) qi is at its peak. 

7-9pm is an excellent time to cozy-in with friends or loved ones for a heartfelt chat, but maybe not the best time for a meal. That being said, the main prerogative here is to not go to sleep with a bunch of food in your stomach. 

For those of us who go to bed at 9 or 10pm, a 7pm dinner is probably cutting it close to bedtime. Some of us have schedules that don’t allow us to eat until later in the day, and that’s ok! If that’s you, you could consider backing up your mealtime by 15 minutes or so and seeing how you feel. 

In Western Medicine, the advice is to stop eating at least 3 hours or so before bed. This gives your body time to digest so that you can settle into sleep (rather than using your resources for digestion). 

There’s also evidence that our insulin sensitivity is decreased at night. This means that if you’re eating later in the evening, your body is less prepared to break down that food, making weight gain and blood sugar issues more likely, both of which can disrupt your sleep. 

If you’re a night owl, maybe it’s ok to have dinner between 8-10pm. Choose the path that makes the most sense for your schedule and needs. And experiment, and see what differences you notice. 

2. Avoid Air Blowing Directly on Your Body At Night. I know that some of us run hot, and I’m definitely not suggesting you sleep in a stuffy room with no air flow. 

But a fan or AC unit pointed directly at your body can cause restlessness and agitation according to Chinese Medicine theory. 

Not to mention that sleeping directly in the flow of cooler air can also cause joint issues and can worsen arthritis and swelling in the joints. That cold air will get caught in the joint spaces, according to Chinese Medicine. 

For those of us who tend to be more depleted, the wind from the fan or AC unit can cause a feeling of agitation and even anxiety. 

An overhead ceiling fan is probably ok, but if you can, please angle your 

bed away from direct currents of a fan or window unit. 

And if this tip sounds silly, no worries! Try lying in different angles of airflow (direct, side, angled) and just notice how you feel. 

3. Keep a Notepad Handy if You’re Anxious, or Inspired. This is a tip I use year-round as I always have a pen and some largish paper before bed. Largish paper is ideal, as I’ve found that scrawling a note to myself in the dark requires a large enough surface that allows it to be intelligible in the morning light. 

This tip will help those of us with racing minds, whether our minds are racing from anxiety or the wheels are turning a bit fast because we’re in a flow state. I must admit that the outline for this entire newsletter came to me recently as I was falling asleep! I was grasping for a moment to hold onto the ideas, but then I just grabbed my bedside notebook and jotted them down, which allowed me to rest into my mattress with a little more ease and less gripping (a tip you might remember from last time I wrote!).

My next letter will reveal my ultimate sleep tip for those of us who have trouble settling. Stay tuned and stay cool in this summer heat. Don’t forget to hydrate.

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