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  • 執筆者の写真Naoko Suga












Understanding Sleep with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Why do humans become sleepy?

In the modern world of medicine, sleepiness is not fully understood scientifically. It is said that humans become sleepy because of the accumulation of sleeping substances at night. Sleep is still an unknown field with many unknowns.

An Oriental Medical Approach

Since time immemorial, humans have slept at the risk of their lives. Even if they are unconscious, they always rest their brains every day. From an Oriental medical perspective, sleep is "yin" and wakefulness is "yang. Yin-Yang is a philosophy that originated in ancient China and classifies all things in the universe into two categories, yin and yang, from various perspectives. Oriental medicine, which views sleep from a philosophical perspective, has a completely different approach than modern medicine.

Modern medicine has a sleep disorder called Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder. Sleep-wake rhythm disorder is one of the sleep disorders caused by the discrepancy between the body's internal clock cycle and the 24-hour cycle of the outside world, but there is no ideological or philosophical concept in it.

It is important to maintain the harmony of yin and yang.

In the concept of yin and yang, yang can only be one element when yin is yin and yin is yang. Yin and Yang are merely elements that make up the whole universe. The yin and yang are in harmony with each other, increasing and decreasing, and this harmony is what maintains the natural order. When the harmony of yin and yang is disrupted, it can result in various forms of disorder.

In Sleep, Yin Surrounds Yang

In Oriental medicine, sleep and wakefulness are also viewed in terms of the concept of yin and yang. In harmony with the 24-hour cycle of the external world, the human body regulates itself by repeatedly increasing and decreasing yin and yang. In healthy people, yang rises during the daytime when they are active. At night, yin rises and yang quiets down as yin envelops yang. In this way, yin and yang increase and decrease, but remain in harmony, thus maintaining a healthy body and mind.

However, too much sleep (hypersomnia) or, conversely, too little sleep (insomnia) results in an imbalance of yin and yang, and as a result, various diseases develop from poor physical condition. In healthy humans, yin wraps around yang at night, thanks to the functioning of normal oriental physiology. If body bias exists, the oriental physiology does not function well. For example, if there is a deficiency of yin, yang cannot be enveloped and comfortable sleep is not possible, resulting in insomnia. Conversely, if yang is deficient, yin cannot be contained, and a pleasant awakening is not possible, resulting in hypersomnia. Thus, in Oriental medicine, sleep is also explained by the harmony of yin and yang. Sleep is said to be the yin surrounding the yang...? No wonder sleep is still shrouded in mystery.





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