Cara O. Frank
Sleep and the Winter Season
During the winter, it is natural to feel a little sleepier, slower and less motivated. It’s the season of stillness and conservation. It’s a period of hibernation and our time to rest, slow down and revitalize our reserves. Winter is the perfect time to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, conserve our strength and heal on a deeper level.
From the Nei Jing*- The Inner Canon:
“During the winter months all things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls. This season is a time when yin dominates yang. Therefore one should refrain from overusing the yang energy. Retire early and get up with the sunrise, which is later in winter. Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued as if keeping a happy secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered. Avoid sweating. The theory of the Winter season is one of conservation and storage. Without such practice, the result will be injury to the Kidney energy. This will cause weakness, shrinking of muscles, and coldness; then the body loses its ability to open and move about in the Spring.”
During the winter, it is important to conserve our energy. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter: rest, reflection, conservation, and storage. The “downtime” that winter provides allows us to slow down, check-in and take account as to how our lifestyle supports or detracts from our health, and to recharge ourselves.
It is always healthy to get some form of exercise daily, but during the winter months, it is best to participate in gentler, less exerting exercises, such as yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, swimming, walking, and other low impact sports. Save the extreme exertion activities for the spring and summer months.
Here are a few easy tips on how you can support and promote your health this time of year:
• Sleep. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise. Go to bed early and if possible, wake up after the sun appears in the morning. Extra sleep will also benefit you if you feel as though you are coming down with something. If you do become ill, naps may help you recover faster.
• “C” it. Load up on Vitamin C and other multivitamins. These can help support your health.
• Drink water. Heated homes are dehydrating! Every cell of your body requires this liquid gold to keep it lubricated to run smoothly.
• Avoid the consumption of excessively cold foods such as ice cream and iced beverages. If possible, drink liquids at room temperature. Too many colds foods, especially during the colder months, can disrupt your digestion.
• Take herbs that support immune function. Astragalus, Reishi, and Shitake mushrooms are helpful. These have been used for thousands of years by acupuncturists to keep people healthy and strong.
• Come in for acupuncture Acupuncture and herbs work exceptionally well when you have a cold, and also as a tune-up to stimulate the healing capacity of your body. If you begin to get the sniffles, body chills, or feel under the weather, give me a call. Call us; we may be able to help!
About Cara Frank, L.OM.
Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised in a health food store in Brooklyn, NY. When she was 8, she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 37 years, she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. 1n 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered.
Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of the office. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.
*translated by Maoshing Ni, Shambala Publications ISBN 1-57062-080-6 © 1995