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What is Sleep – Really?

Why do we sleep - really?

What is Sleep – Really?


Why do we sleep?

Sleep is pretty mysterious. We spend about one third of our entire lifetime in this state. Why so much time?

And isn’t it strange that we’re not really aware of what’s happening during sleep? If we try to watch what’s happening, well, we’re not asleep any more…


Your appetite for sleep

At the end of the day, you feel weary and tired. Similar to feeling hungry and desiring some yummy food, when you get to the end of the day it’s like you’ve developed an appetite for sleep.

The thought of becoming still and quiet, resting in a soft dark room, becomes very appealing.



Then “you” gradually enter into another realm – resting the body for eight hours or so, it’s not boring at all. “Doing nothing” is not a problem. You’re not aware of what’s outside, not thinking about your to-do lists or trying to have conversations. Now the “you” that walks around interacting with others during the day becomes very small, allowing this other state to arise.


Back into life

Then when the morning comes, you open your eyes and you have filled up with energy. In the evening, you were tired. In the morning, you feel bright and have the physical energy to do another day’s tasks.


The mystery of sleep

Where did this energy come from?

Isn’t that a great question!

If you tried to stay awake to find the answer, then the energy wouldn’t be there.

It’s not coming from just lying down and resting for eight hours. “You” need to enter a different realm to receive the energy.


Hidden connection to energy

The energy comes from a hidden connection with life. In Chinese medicine, this hidden realm is referred to as Yin. It is associated with night, stillness and receptivity. This is in contrast to Yang which is associated with the visible realm, day time, activity and purpose.


What Nature provides during the night phase

During the night time, Nature provides us with bountiful Yin. When we become quiet and still, then we harmonise with Nature and receive the replenishing essence of this phase.

Yin <> Night <> Stillness <> Receiving <> Yin


The opposite of “doing”

We can’t get this quality of energy from “doing”. We must become still and quiet to receive it. Our minds can’t be too busy – they must become less full of thought, letting go. The body must be ready to rest.


Coming up…

During this month we will delve further into sleep and draw on Chinese medicine wisdom to work out how to harmonise with Nature’s cycles in order to receive the most nourishing sleep possible.


Getting help

Sleep problems? Chinese medicine has many solutions for difficult sleep. We differentiate our treatment according to the type of sleep issue.

For example:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking at 1-3am, thinking a lot
  • Many dreams that can disturb sleep
  • Sleeping solidly but waking up tired
  • Night sweats


If you have these, or any other sleep issues, please get in touch to find out how we can help.


This post is brought to you by Lois Nethery, acupuncturist and Chinese medicine herbalist at Ocean Acupuncture in Curl Curl on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Disclaimer - Ocean Acupuncture is a natural medicine centre of independent health practitioners. The views expressed in this blog are the author's only and do not necessarily reflect the views of all Ocean Acupuncture practitioners. The information presented in this blog, and on the Ocean Acupuncture website, is for interest and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for health or medical information or advice. For health or medical advice, please consult your health professional.

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