Ancient Wisdom for Healthy Sleep (Part 3)

Sleep is the best medicine. It restores, repairs, and rejuvenates the body.  (Image:  via   pixabay  / CC0 1.0)
Sleep is the best medicine. It restores, repairs, and rejuvenates the body. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Sleep is the best medicine. It restores, repairs, and rejuvenates the body. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is the key to one’s level of function, health, and longevity. Healthy sleep habits involve regular sleep and wake cycles that provide quality sleep at night and alertness during the day.

Key components for a healthy sleep

To ensure a good night’s sleep, modern science has some excellent suggestions based on sleep research. These suggestions are referred to as sleep hygiene. These are key components for a healthy sleep:


Avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee, or chocolate prior to bedtime. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Right time for sleep

In traditional Chinese medicine, a good night’s sleep is also considered critical to health. In addition to the suggestions that modern medicine offers, traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of the time of night we should sleep.

The ideal time for sleep is from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. It is the time when the body’s energy (qi) circulates to the triple-burner (san jiao) meridians, a unique concept from traditional Chinese medicine. The triple-burner involves the organ functions in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

The upper burner spreads oxygen and blood to the rest of the body. The middle burner absorbs, metabolizes, and transforms the food into nutrients for the body. The lower burner reabsorbs water and gets rid of waste from the system.

Therefore, the triple-burner function determines normal body functions. It is extremely important that we take good care of the triple burner.

Energy circulates through a different organ system every two hours. Since there are 24 hours in a day, there are 12 stages of energy cycles. During the last phase of the 12 stages, the body enters the phase of restoration.


People should keep their minds quiet, emotions calm, and activities to a minimum prior to bedtime. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

From 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., energy circulates through the gallbladder and liver, as discussed in Part 2.

In Chinese medicine, the gallbladder and liver regulate digestion, nurture the connective tissues (such as the ligaments of joints), regulate mood and sleep, support bone health, and regulate menstruation and reproductivity.

(Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

A component of sleep hygiene is exposure to sunlight during the day and keeping the bedroom completely dark at night. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Having a deep level of sleep from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. will help to prevent a number of health issues, such as migraines, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, fibroids, and esophageal reflux.

From 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., energy circulates through the lung meridians. Therefore, having a deep level of sleep during this time is also very important. The lungs, in Chinese medicine, are responsible for breathing and spreading qi and oxygen to the rest of the body. They also help regulate water metabolism, and are connected with the function of the large intestines.

Lung energy makes people physically strong and very sensitive to sadness and grief. For people who have frequent upper respiratory infection, allergy, loss and grief, skin issues, and frequent urination or abnormal bowel movements, it is important to have a deep level of sleep at this time.


Sleep well, sleep on time, live long, and live healthy. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Dr. Jingduan Yang is a board-certified psychiatrist and a fourth-generation teacher and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. He practices integrative medicine in New York City, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. His website is

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