5 Ways Chinese Medicine Can Help with Shorter Days

by Dr. Eric Karchmer, PhD, MD (China), LAc |

5 Ways Chinese Medicine Can Help with Shorter Days

Do you want peaceful sleep on the weekend after a hectic work week? short term benefits of gaining an extra hour may not outweigh the long term implications of this weekend's time change: shorter days can be challenging for many people, particularly the ones that are further away from the Equator.

Studies show that there are health implications to Daylight Savings Time and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called to end DST, writing that “the seasonal times switching should be eliminated in favor of implementing a constant, national standard time throughout an entire year.”

Lack of sleep and mental health are concerns in the season of spring and fall respectively. Following the adjustment of clocks, losing even an hour of afternoon daylight can give rise to mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression.

  • A Danish study found an 11% increase in depression cases after the time change.
  • An Australian study found that male suicide rates increased the days after both the spring and fall DST shift.

If you struggle with the shorter days and winter blues, here are 5 ways Chinese medicine can help:

1) Incorporate Acupuncture into Your Routine

If you find any imbalance in winters and consider that you are getting vulnerable to seasonal changes, then an acupuncturist helps to manage your root cause other than curing your symptoms. For the coming years, you must begin your treatments in summers. In this way, practitioner can help eliminate the root cause before your troubles with the shorter days begin.

2) Don't Forget: Yin Now, Yang Later

Sleep early so you wake up early and soak up sunlight during the day as much as you can. Work next to a window. If you live where it’s cold, bundle up and get outside for a brisk walk during the day. Plan your day in a way to be at maximum exposure to sunlight. Channel your inner sunflower: face the light.

3. Align Your Day with the Chinese Medicine Clock

Western world does not focus on the clock. Quarantine during the pandemic have made work, school, and home life the same. If you’re feeling like your life is reactive as opposed to proactive, you’re probably not wrong -- or alone. Staying at homes means you eat whenever you feel hungry. You can exercise when you find time between meetings. If you are supporting kids who are distancing learning, then evening hours can become work time too.

The Chinese medicine clock can help re-sync your day, even when things become tough. Planning a day in this modern world can be hectic but can prove to be healthy for you in the longer run. Choosing specific mealtimes, creating a proper sleep cycle, and timing your activities can help you to restore your balance and improve your health - which is even more important than ever. Acupuncturist Jen Ward explains the Chinese Medicine Clock in more detail in this article.

4) Eat Warming Foods

Consumption of cold and raw foods makes the body to work extra and expend more energy that should be otherwise reserved for the winter months. Lightly cook your vegetables, incorporate soups, stews, and warming spices into your diet will keep your stomach at 100 degrees and support your “middle burner.” Additionally, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains to get your vitamins and minerals, and supplement if necessary (especially Vitamin D, which so many lack).

5) Herbs

Herbal supplementation helps place body in a harmonious balance during the tougher winter months. Studies have shown the popular herbal formula Xiao Yao San can help with depression, which as we mentioned above, can be triggered by the shorter days. In Chinese Medicine theory terms, Xiao Yao San helps to calm the liver, energize the spleen, nurtures the blood, and removes any liver fire due to blood scarcity. DAO Labs’ offers Emotional Balance which is a unique blend of 8 popular herbs and fuses together refreshing apple and cucumber. These help support anxious and stressful minds, ease mental tension, and irritability.

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on hello@mydaolabs.com

Dr. Eric Karchmer is a practicing Chinese medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and co-founder and Chief Doctor of Chinese Medicine for DAO Labs. From 1995-2000, Eric studied at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and today is both a licensed acupuncturist and professor at Appalachian State University. Eric can be reached at drkarchmer@mydaolabs.com.

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