Daylight savings has recently begun for another year. This signals for many the beginning of summer days, where the daylight lasts longer allowing us more time to enjoy outdoor activities such as gardening and exercise in the park. However moving the clocks forward into spring also means we have the feeling that we ‘lose’ an hour of sleep in the morning, even if we are going to bed at the same time.
Our body has an internal body clock, which directs certain physiological functions too occur at the appropriate time of the day. This helps establish what is known as the circadian rhythm of our body.
This circadian rhythm is a daily rhythm with a time cycle of approximately 24.2 hours, having an influence on our sleep cycles, metabolism and alertness among other things. The circadian rhythm is reset on a daily basis, in a process known as entrainment, in order for our bodies to be synchronised with the 24 hour (or more precisely 23 hours and 56 minutes) time cycle of the turning of the earth creating what we know as night and day.
Within this cycle, the presence of light and darkness stimulate the release of cortisol and melatonin respectively, which put simply affect our state of alertness or sleepiness. With daylight savings your body is still responding to the natural cues of the natural world around, but your daily activities are fitting into a new routine.
Within Chinese Medicine it is understood that our energy moves through the twelve major energy networks of the body, known as the twelve internal organs, in two hour shifts. This ebb and flow of energy means that the function of a particular organ is strongest at a specific time of the day, and weakest at the opposite time on the clock.
For example, the time of 9-11am is associated with the Spleen, meaning that at this time our ability to digest is at its strongest indicating that the best time of the day to have your largest meal is in the morning. It is also therefore at its weakest from 9-11pm, which is why large and heavy evening meals can be difficult to digest.
This cycle remains the same, even if we shift our activities by an hour as in with daylight savings, meaning our activities become desynchronised with our bodily function. This creates a situation where our routines are out of synch with the rhythm of nature.
This is the same mechanism behind jet lag and why our body takes time to readjust after flying through multiple time zones.
Helping the body readjust
By activating specific acupuncture points at the right time, we can help guide our body into this new rhythm. For each internal organ there is a constellation of points that appear on the body surface. These are the points that are stimulated in acupuncture and oriental massage. By selecting the point that influences the organ at the right time, known as its horary point, you can encourage the timing of the flow of Qi to reset itself.
To stimulate these points, simply massage the related point for 2-3 min during the associated time, ideally at the beginning of it allocated two hour time frame. The time frame should be selected according to the new time zone you are entering (i.e. the daylight saving hour or time at your intended destination if travelling a long distance).