Love Your Liver: A Story of Sleep
3AM: Cat fight! Screeching, hissing, and an occasional yowl drift up from the backyard.
I stare at the ceiling, wide awake.
Sound familiar? Okay, maybe not the cat fight part but how about the lying wide awake, staring at the ceiling, cursing fate...
... And then cursing the woman who cut you off on the freeway and your boss who just doesn’t seem to get that, yes, you do actually need to eat lunch.
Why do we get so angry in the middle of the night?
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that qi, or energy, moves through the body on a 24-hour cycle. 1-3AM is liver time.
The liver is associated with anger and frustration. If you are waking up at 3AM, gnashing your teeth and replaying the day’s frustrations, your liver is trying to tell you something.
What to do:
Give Your Liver a Voice: Before you go to bed, spend fifteen minutes letting it out. No, don’t put this in your journal; we self-edit in our journals. Use a piece of scrap paper so you feel free to scrawl any nasty, ugly, insecure thoughts or emotions that cross your mind. Do NOT re-read this piece of paper (you just got it out, why would you put it back in?). Rip it up or burn it to get those emotions good and gone!
Work with Your Daytime Energy: A more moving regimen is to use lemon, cypress, or rosemary oils. But don’t do this at night! These oils will create too much energetic activity for bedtime. Instead, use them throughout the day (you can create a blend in a little jojoba oil and rub it on the soles of your feet or put the oil or oils of your choice in your diffuser) to help keep your liver moving so that by bedtime you've processed your fiery emotions.
Sniff Your Way to Sleep: If you feel like your liver is storing years and years worth of your frustration and anger, try making smelling salts from these oils by combining one drop of each is a small vial of salt. The shape of the salt crystal holds the scent for years if you cap your vial tightly. Sniff these salts throughout the day. This will stir up emotions (not make them disappear) so be sure to use write-and-rip as well as breath work, exercise, and plenty of water to move those emotions out!
Create a Bedtime Routine to Prepare for Sleep. Wind-down a half-hour before bedtime. Turn off the computer, t.v., cell phone, and tablet. Candlelight is a lovely way to transition between electric light and the darkness of night. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea.
If you carry a lot of tension in your musculature and find yourself laying in bed, stiff as a board, add a little hops to your tea. You might be familiar with Hops as the main ingredient in beer. The herb, even in tea form, can give some people a slightly hung-over, woozy feeling in the morning, so be sure to experiment and see what feels good to you.
Back to that Bedtime Routine: While you're waiting for your water to boil for your tea and then for your tea to steep, you can do your write-and-rip (or write-and-burn). This is also a great time to make to-do lists for the following day so you don't wake up at 3 am anxious about forgetting something which needs doing in the morning. Spend the last 10 minutes before bed, sitting quietly, sipping your tea. You’ll find yourself ready for sleep and far more able to dream through the night.
On Herbiary owner Maia Toll's Blog:
- 6 Little Questions That'll Change Your Life: Six questions to help you on a journey of self-growth.
- The Sacred Pause: A Simple Way to Step into Daily Magic: Not a fan of committing to daily rituals unless it actually brings you peace and happiness? Explore these steps for creating the sacred in your daily life.
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