Yin, Yang, and Sleep: How Balance is Critical to Health

Yin and Yang are two energetic states that make up a spectrum of energy in the natural world (on a macro scale) and in our bodies (on a micro scale). They are two aspects of an energetic continuum that balance one another out.

Yin is contraction, cooling, and restorative. Yang is expansive, warming, and energetic. In the 24 hour cycle of a day, each has a period where it dominates. From sunset to sunrise, there is more Yin. Whereas, from sunrise to sunset, there is more Yang. Nighttime activities should consist of less movement and more rest. Daytime activities should consist of moving more and resting less. To be healthy and balanced, humans should synchronize their rest and activities following the daily rhythms of Yin and Yang.

Sleep is the Yin phase of the cycle. It allows us to have energy for the active daytime phase. When we don’t sleep well, we do not smoothly enter and stay in the storage and restoration phase. This affects our ability to engage in the expansive, moving part of the 24-hour cycle.

Trouble with sleep can be summed up as Yang energy not contracting into the storage phase. There can be many reasons for this, but for most people in the modern industrialized world, it often has to do with not taking the time in the evening to slow down, stop “doing,” and disconnect from technology. The overconsumption of Yang foods and drinks, including sugar, caffeine, processed foods, and animal products, falls into this category. Additionally, the underconsumption of Yin foods also contributes. Water, a diet rich in plant-based, whole foods, and lightly cooked or raw fruits and vegetables are all Yin nourishing and can help balance out our Yang tendencies.

Trouble sleeping has become a common problem. Thankfully, it can be treated successfully with the proper perspective and approach.