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The Yin and Yang Balance of Sleep Tsao-Lin Moy



Today I’m going to be talking about the importance of sleep and using it as a way of improving health for your patients.  People are not getting enough sleep, and this was an issue that was happening even before the pandemic.

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Hello and welcome. My name is Tsao-Lin Moy, and I am an alternative medicine acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner. And I want to thank the American Acupuncture Council for hosting these Facebook live events. Um, today I’m going to be talking about the importance of sleep and using it as a way of improving health for your patients. Uh, so, uh, let’s go to the slide.


So one of the, uh, problems that we are facing in these times is that, uh, people are not getting enough sleep, and this was an issue that was happening even before the pandemic, um, that, uh, we have a situation that is really a crisis, um, about a hundred million Americans, which is one-third of the population are sleep deprived. And that means getting less than six hours of sleep per night. And poor sleep has been linked to many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia, and chronic pain. And the studies actually show that if you miss one night of sleep, I means like, stay up, do an all-nighter that you, um, you build up a protein called beta amyloid at two, as much as 5%. And this is, uh, a linked to impaired brain function. And it’s also associated with Alzheimer’s disease. And this is where these beta, the beta amyloid proteins actually clump together and create those plaques.

So lack of sleep, it’s also linked to increased emotional disorders, including things like anger. And later on, I’m going to actually talk a little bit about it, like how it works with the season, right? So seasonal, emotional issues can be linked back to sleep. Uh, what we know is poor sleep has been a problem for weight gain, uh, hormone imbalances in fertility for male and female lowered immune function because of the, the cytokines, which are the inflammatory process and also premature aging. So, uh, many of you, if you have children or have been home and may have been experiencing this, uh, uh, problems, getting sleep, uh, being stuck at home, right? Uh, so what I am going to talk about is, uh, as you, as practitioners, understand the yin and yang, and really what I’m going to do is relate it to sleep because the, of yin and yang play a major role in sleep.

Restorative sleep is governed by the body’s circadian rhythm and the sleep and wake homeostasis. So circadian rhythm is that internal biological clock that regulates wakefulness, metabolism, body temperature, and hormones, and synchronizes with environmental factors, such as temperature and light. And this is also true of the seasons. Uh, what’s interesting is that it also closely relates to the Chinese medicine organ clock. So here’s a picture of the Oregon clock, right? We all, this is a foundations in Chinese medicine. And as you know, if you are a practitioner of, uh, Dr. Tang, that you might also, you look at the clock is how you’re going to treat the different meridians systems, right. Um, okay. So yin, if we look at yin is considered the hormone of darkness or the hormone of darkness we should say would be yet. Um, this is the circadian in the part of the biological clock that signals the release of melatonin.

So melatonin is called the hormone of darkness because it gets triggered when the light is lowered. And so when the sun begins to set, we have melatonin that starts to build up and it signals the body to start to move into a yin phase, which helps you to, to slowly go into a sleep phase. So following these movements and rhythm of the day and nighttime in the evening, the body is going to naturally move towards a yin phase. And that parasympathetic, which is the rest and digest, this is what Phyllis, uh, facilitates, you know, restorative and restful sleep. And so studies show that actually people that work night hours that combat that natural rest period, uh, in terms of light, um, they cause a misalignment of their circadian rhythm. And what happens is they suffer more cognitive problems and they’re at higher risk also for developing diabetes.

Uh, so somebody who drives a truck or is, uh, just, you know, staying has like the night shift clearly related to, um, higher health problems. Um, so it’s important also what time you go to sleep versus not just the, not only the quality, but you look at the time because there is an, and there’s also like how much the quantity we really need at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Now, the thing is, is what we need is really restful sleep. So here’s a little bit of the, the nighttime, uh, the, the yin time. And we see the moon so related in time is related to

Pink. Yup.

We’re looking at is more sunshine and vitamin D. And so in the morning when the sun rises, we actually are entering into that young phase and become wakeful. And this also relates to the circadian rhythm. Sunlight will actually pause that melatonin production, and it’ll also help the body to produce vitamin D. And that also helps with mood and other metabolic functions. So if we don’t get the restful sleep, it will manifest in being tired and wired. And that could also be related that you’re not getting enough sunlight. Right. Um, so, and just as a side note, every cell in our body has vitamin D receptors. And if we look at many of the people that had a severe COVID from had lowered levels of vitamin D, uh, in the U S we have a lot of lowered levels of vitamin D even before, uh, since we spend a lot of time indoors in front of our computers, uh, watching zooms, uh, this is, you know, exhausted. We don’t, we just don’t get out. And we also see with children, they don’t run around and play so much anymore. They are really stuck in doors doing activities. Uh, so what’s really important is for children to actually get out there into the sun and, and play, and also as adults too, we really need to get outside and move around. Okay. So here we go. This is exactly, yeah. Fantastic. Would it feels like to be a kid running around in the sunlight, uh, enjoying, enjoying themselves.

So what causes this imbalance or to this a yin and yang out of balance? Well, as I said, you spoke about it a little earlier. The problem of modern life is that we also tend to ignore and override the body’s inclination for rest. And this can result in like racing thoughts when it’s time to sleep. And I’m sure a lot of your patients report, they can’t get to sleep. They, you know, they keep thinking about what they need to do. So this is really an example of this young energy when it’s really time for the yin to quiet down, or we see people staying up all night long and then sleeping during the day. And that’s really when they are out of alignment, really out of alignment with the Nat, the natural cycle. And what happens is, is that when you do that, your body is, is actually fighting with the, the rotation of the earth, right.

Going and moving towards sunlight. And you’re going down trying to go down and all of the forces of nature are pulling you back up. So what happens is you get very tired and wired. Um, and so really studies they’ve shown that people that work night shifts also have greater health issues. Um, even if they’re getting the hours of sleep, that they need the number of hours so that they there’s more, that has to be looked into. Uh, another thing is also people say like, Oh, I catch up on my sleep on the weekend and you cannot catch up on your sleep. It doesn’t so not getting enough sleep. You create something called a sleep debt, right. And that negatively impacts the, the, the health. So things such as stress, fear, and anxiety, which are like being in that fight or flight mode very young, um, that is often one of the complaints that people have, especially when it’s time to rest.

Uh, so just sitting and relaxing, their mind is still going, which means there’s this disconnection of the mind and body. So not going into calm, being relaxed and stable, which is more of that yin time. So there’s not enough time for recovery. So what we see is is that there may be too much of activity. And then the body just doesn’t get that TA like the focus time to relax. So then we start to have this thing where it, uh, the adrenals get involved and the people are unable to actually rest and relax. They just can’t go into it. And that’s like kicks into their nervous system, right? So when we’re looking at this, we’re looking at the illness is coming, comes from being out of balance with nature, our environment, and how it affects our biology. And so this yin and young balance is reflected.

It shows up in the quality and the quantity of our stuff sleep. Um, so, you know, why are we talking about this? Well, this is addressing sleep as a strategy for your patients. So no matter what they’re coming in with focusing on the quality of their sleep is going to be really, really a good key to helping them to heal. It’s also telling you that something else is going on, right? So most people don’t consider sleep as a wellness or self care practice. They don’t think of it as an activity because they think like, well, I’m just lying there. I’m not doing anything. But the fact is, is that there’s a lot that’s happening when you’re sleeping and you really need to get that quality sleep just as you’re preparing for your day. You know, this is an activity that, you know, during the daytime, very young, you’re very aware of the activities that you’re doing when you’re sleeping.

You don’t need to be aware of those things in your sleep. You need to come that part of your brain down and let that your body take over. So most patients, when they come in with the chief complaint, we know that there’s an imbalance in Ian and young. We can look at the meridians, we can look at digestion, we look at the emotions, right? And then the key is like, well, what can we look at that is really gonna give us, uh, an indication, because it’s really not yin or yang, it’s yin and yang. So that problem that they’re coming in with, there’s gotta be the other side of it. And so this is where we can look at sleep. So if somebody is not getting restful and restorative sleep, their body, you know, their, their body needs to heal if they are getting the sleep.

So even if they report that they get great sleep, um, that there’s a pro you know, sleep is going to be something that’s involved in, cannot be perfect balance if young is out of balance because they’re interconnected. So if someone has a problem, then we know that there’s also going to be the other side in, in the yin aspect. Um, so, and the other, again, I said, you can’t catch up on your sleep, right? We have the sleep debt, and that’s like an, I, those are one of those myths that people are like, Oh yeah, I sleep on the weekend. It’s not. And in fact, if you sleep too much, that you also can cause a problem like the, the, uh, the metabolic waste builds up and toxicity. So sleep quality we’re looking at. So what happens when you have a good night’s sleep, you release growth, hormone growth hormone is what helps maintain healthy body tissue.

It promotes healthy metabolism and is important for maintaining bones. 75% of growth hormone is released during sleep. And it helps to restore your body and muscles from stress experience during the day. So this is really key. If you don’t get into that restful state, this is not happening. And so that is going to be a real clue. If your patients are not healing, right, better mood and positive outlook, sleeping well means you’re regulating the autonomic nervous system to be in a state of rest and digest your body. And mind are able to repair and recover and balance brain chemicals. Poor sleep is correlated with depression, deep restorative sleep results in a more positive outlook on life. So anybody who has depression, you’re going to notice that they probably sleep a lot, but it’s not restful. So that’s where you there. That’s one of the clues of, yeah, well, I get a lot of sleep, but it’s not restful.

And so that means that there’s some other imbalance that’s going on. So immune function studies show that sleep quality and immune function are linked to better health outcomes. So getting deep and restful sleep, you are able to reset and remove that metabolic waste that builds up from stress and in turn reduces systemic formation. So we also know that children require a lot of sleep. Why is that? Whatever they’re learning, they’re growing and learning and their body and their brain needs to be able to integrate and do its functions, right? So this is true for us, even as adults. And, and when people are not healing, we can look at that. They’re probably not getting restful sleep. So you’re, we’re looking at the four seasons, right? The spring, summer, fall, and winter now seasons and patterns of sleep right now, we’re in the spring time. So all in all things, we can see that there’s a dynamic interplay of nature and seasons that are a microcosm of the cycle of life.

So we are influenced, this is, it goes back to the circadian rhythm, right? That we are also, uh, relates, you know, our health is also related to the environment. Uh, so if you look in certain countries where they have like four hours of light, when they’re in the winter, or they have, you know, forever a day, they tend to have a lot more emotional, um, problems. Right. Um, so understanding that the yin and yang of our body is what connects our biology for the need of sleep daytime and nighttime. So that we’re in sync with the movement of the sun and the moon, as well as the seasons where the amount of light will change. So being in rhythm with nature is going to help us with the flow of our own internal clock. So that’s resetting the circadian rhythm and the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis.

So this also applies in the change of seasons because we start to look at people having more health issues at certain seasons. So important to bear in mind that people’s energy will shift depending on those seasons and can show up in pulses and different types of illness. Right? So we always expect in the spring time that you’re going to have a little bit of a winery pulse, and that’s going to be normal in the spring time. Right. Cause your with the seasons, um, we got a little winter, okay. Winter, for example, is considered the most UN time of the year for looking at union young. Um, it’s cooler, there’s less light. Uh, it naturally influences the process of slowing down animals naturally go into hibernation to conserve their energy. And that’s true of us. We tend to feel more sleepy. We gain a little more weight, may not have so much energy.

You want to go and, and, and, you know, sleep. Uh, and so it’s during this sleep that the body temperature actually lowers. So this is something that we, you know, going into a sleep phase, we actually, our body temperature lowers. So we go towards the end, which is why, you know, the first days that are cooler after hot summer people have fantastic sleep. So people are also, uh, sensitive to the seasonal change, right? Experiencing the winter blues, the seasonal, sad, um, their relationship of their internal balance becomes upset by the external changes of the season. And in this case, something like sad in the winter, they may sleep excessively, withdraw, feel like hibernating and experienced depression. Also people with low vitamin D have a higher chance of developing seasonal depression. Uh, so treatments such as light therapy, acupuncture, exercise, and vitamin D have been found to help.

Now, if you’ve been indoors all summer, as winter comes around, what happens is, is that you have lowered vitamin D and you can become more, you know, have, uh, feelings of melancholy and depression, right? And so here is we’re looking at the young time. This is summer, right? So this is the most young time of the year. And so the warmth of the sunlight makes people feel a lot happier, right? We have more energy because we’re getting the energy and here there is a propensity to stay out later. So this is one of the things and get less sleep. Uh, the additional time in the sun is where people also get vitamin D and some of it can be stored in the body, right? That’s what kids do. They run around outside, and, uh, get a lot of sunlight in, in certain cultures where they’re working in the fields, they’re out there getting vitamin D and, uh, they don’t have to take the supplements, right?

Historically we didn’t have supplements, uh, in the summer, but we need them. Now, when you do need them now, uh, for many other reasons, environmental factors that cause us to lose, uh, also, um, important, uh, vitamins and minerals, uh, in summer months, some people experience more anxiety though, and agitation and even mania, right? So that’s that heart energy not sleeping, right. If they’re out all the time, they can actually trip into, uh, having more mania. So summer insomnia, they call it where, uh, that can be very frustrating. And that we see in, uh, in climates where people have like forever song, uh, long days of sunlight, you know, closer to the North. So maintaining a sleep schedule and cooling the environment and, uh, darkness for sleeping is something that can help. So this is where someone has to get really disciplined in the summertime, right?

Because that is actually kicking in their natural propensity for being very up, right? So they need things to do to help, to balance it out. So this is like seasonal illnesses and getting sleep, uh, getting good sleep in the spring is especially helpful for the emotion of anger, right. Uh, we’ve been seeing a lot of outbursts and a lot of stuff going on, at least here in New York city, where I am, you see people, you know, very angry and agitated. Uh, and of course the, the formula of choice is the shallow song to kind of help, uh, to unwind the liver and smooth out the emotions. So this is like that liver young energy people get very agitated as also as the season shifts. So it was at, to look at when there is a shift in season that we’re going to have liver energy is going to be involved to a certain degree.

So not getting sleep is also going to mean the blood’s not stored during the night and results in irritability and angry outbursts, also allergies and itchy skin fall, poor sleep. You can have more worry and anxiety, digestive problems, gas, and bloating, and then you get colds and sinuses and more melancholy, you can get lack of sleep is going to magnify any of these seasonal influences. And also it’s going to magnify the imbalances that are part of that patient’s constitution. So this is a place where when you look at their constitution and look at what’s going on in the season and how it’s relating to their sleep, like what’s happening. And that’s like a, like a, I won’t say a no brainer, but it’s a good start because what happens is people’s symptoms are all over the place and you start to chase them. And so you’re going to know if they’re having emotional problems, that there’s going to be some liver involvement, and you’ve got to look at whatever liver energy involvement and look at whatever else is going on with the season and their sleep, right.

So really to help your patients to cultivate better health. Um, if you’re, you know, diet is going to make a difference, right. With sleep, um, exercise, making sure to move the cheese in blood. And definitely during the, you know, outside, uh, meditation for mindfulness acupuncture is going to definitely help, right. With regulating the nervous system. Um, we’re looking at herbs supplements. They may need support with, like I mentioned, you know, shallow sawn in the, in the spring. Uh, but if you’re a new Yorker that is like, uh, you know, that’s the, the first formula you might think of. Cause new Yorkers tend to get very irritable and cranky and agitated, um, get some bodywork, cause touch is also going to help, right? Uh, again, there’s something when I, I love is the environment with Feng Shui, I’m going to quickly do something with that and spending some time in nature so that you’re able to really take advantage of, you know, the, the earth.

So here are some tips for better sleep, for something that you can do with your patients, mind, body harmony. So worrying and overthinking those racing thoughts are very young and it makes it very difficult to fall asleep and have a restful sleep. So powering down the mind is just as important as lying in bed, a relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercise can help bring the body back into a parasympathetic or you’re a yin phase. Now most, if somebody is very agitated, it’s very hard for them to meditate, right? I’m sure you have patients that say, I can’t do it. Oh my God. My mind races. Um, so what there is instead is there’s that four, seven, eight relaxing breath. Um, and it’s an exercise it’s really simple to do. Um, uh, there’s a link to it in here. And later on, if anybody wants the slides, uh, they can have the slides, right? It’s a, it’s a method of helping to calm you down. You can use it anywhere. You know, it helps with anxiety and actually helped to shift the nervous system. Breathing is also going to help with oxygenating the body and moving the energy, right. With each breath, we know that the cheese is going to move like five soon, right? And, and if we’re, our energy is stuck, we need to be


In time promoting deeper sleep. So in time getting to bed before 10, right? The, the, the Oregon clock, right. We want to make sure we’re in bed before 10. So sleep can occur during the most yin time between 11 and 1:00 AM. So that’s taking advantage of the circadian rhythm and the movement of the earth. So when you’re in rhythm with your own biological clock, as well as with the plan, and then we’re looking hormone of darkness, you some heavy curtains on the windows, block out the light and the noise to help keep your biological clock for you to have a produce the melatonin and the rest will sleep. Right. So this is the thing in studies. If you’re, you’re looking at your, your computer or your TV or your smartphone, they found the people that, uh, expose themselves to room light before bedtime actually suppressed the synthesis of their melatonin. Right? So it means you got to put your phone down probably a couple hours before, at least, um, in temperature, you know, studies also show that the best temperature for sleep is 65 to 70 degrees. So your body will naturally lower its temperature and stay cool while staying asleep. So your body actually does do that.


So, um, young and moving energy, get outside and do a little bit of exercise. Um, this helps the body to synchronize, uh, with the movements of the earth. Uh, we see that, you know, looking at nature, um, here doing a little exercise in the early morning to move the Chi and gather that energy from the sun, uh, and then tips for functions way, you know, removing clutter, uh, distract, like that creates a mental distraction and chaos, um, that can actually interfere.

I got nice thing.

And then here, you know, preparing the sleep environment, you want to lower the lights again, you know, for the melatonin, no TV screens or computers, make sure you have those heavy curtains really make it a ritual for sleeping. Right. And, uh, again, uh, so this is, uh, I’m gonna stop sharing my screen here. Uh, if you, again, if you need copies, uh, you can, or you missed part of this, uh, this is going to be, uh, available to you. Uh, you can, I guess you can email or text, uh, you can get copies of the recording, uh, and, uh, yeah, for a copy of the transcript, you’re going to need to, you can text needle, uh, to the, the number (714) 332-6926. And, uh, I hope this was, uh, informative for you and please join us next week. Uh, when we’re going to have Jeffrey Grossman, who’s going to be hosting, uh, these, this, um, uh, American acupuncture council, uh, Facebook live. And, uh, so I want to thank you all for listening, and please comment. If you have any questions, you can always get in touch with me. And, uh, again, uh, this, uh, you can, uh, get the transcript and I think there’s going to be a replay too. Thank you.