15 Nov Salt foot bath – The perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep
15 Nov 2022
There are very few things in life that are as comforting as a good night’s sleep, so it is no coincidence that sleep is one of the most important biological functions for health maintenance and healing. Sleep is crucial for proper physical recovery, brain development, and maintaining memory and concentration. It’s also essential for cardiac function, metabolism, cellular repair, hormonal health, and many other things. This salt foot bath recipe is a wonderfully soothing way to ensure you’re sleeping effectively.
In order for your body to access all of these wonderful processes, 7-9 hours of quality sleep is ideal per night. Otherwise over extended periods of time, you may experience symptoms such as lethargy, muscular tension, poor concentration, stress and slow recovery. Other symptoms such as weakened immunity, weight gain, moodiness and irritability, hormonal imbalances, and more can occur. If sleep is not your forte, I am sure you are very familiar with some of these symptoms!
Sleep disorders can occur due to several causes.
Minimising factors that inhibit your ability to fall or stay asleep are essential.
A few things to be mindful of include:
– Minimising or avoiding caffeine in the afternoon
– Reducing or avoiding screens and blue light stimulation before bed
– Ensuring you get some sunlight exposure during the day (even 10 mins or direct sunlight will help)
– Expending enough energy through the day
– For reducing stress and overthinking: journaling, meditation and exercise may be helpful
– Enjoying a nice cup of herbal tea in the evening; chamomile, passionflower or a night time blend are particularly calming
We often hear of the body clock being out of whack, which controls our circadian rhythm, but have you head of the Chinese Organ clock? This clock is rooted in the theories of Chinese medicine and helps to give an insight on what may be going wrong internally. Each of the organs are associated with a two-hour interval of day, so if an organ or acupuncture channel is not functioning properly, we may have certain issues at that time of day.
One of the main culprits for sleep disturbances is the Liver, which governs the hours of 1am-3am. Between these early hours you should be enjoying your deepest sleep while the Liver goes to work. It is responsible for detoxifying the blood, processing emotions, and helping the cells and tissues recover. If you find yourself waking approximately between 1am-3am each night, your Liver may be under some strain, or exhibiting disharmony, and won’t be able to perform its functions effectively, leading to sleep disturbance. Symptoms associated with a Liver imbalance include irritability, outbursts of anger, stress, muscular tension, headaches, chest distention, blurred vision, eye floaters, PMS, breast tenderness and digestive issues to name a few. If you have any of these Liver associated challenges, then seeing your acupuncturist to get your Liver in its best place is a great idea, where they will provide acupuncture treatment and prescribe herbs to help. Book now with Veronika or Peter if this sounds like you!
In Chinese medicine, night-time is also associated with Yin, so any imbalances of Yin and Yang (such as imbalances in the divisions of the nervous system) can disrupt this process. To help restore our sleep, restoring our Yin is a great place to start. A technique I often recommend to my patients is a salt foot bath. The feet are the meeting point of the leg acupuncture channels (including the Liver Channel). The soles of the feet are governed by the Water element and the Kidney/Bladder organ system. Salt foot baths help to warm the acupoints of the feet, support the Yin and Water element of the body, and draw excess energy (Yang hyperactivity) away from the head. This helps settle the nervous system and encourage sleep.
Salt foot bath directions:
- Fill a bucket with enough warm water to cover the feet (the warmer the better without being too hot)
- Add a small handful of Epsom, Himalayan or sea salt to the water
- Soak the feet for 20-30 minutes before bed
- Dry your feet with a towel and go straight to bed. If you need to move around the house to tip out the bucket of water, make sure you put on some socks or slippers first to keep your feet warm
– Optional; you can add a few drops of essential oils for an extra calming effect. For example, lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile or clary sage oil
– If the water starts to get cool, you can keep some hot water next to you and top up as needed. Be careful not to burn yourself
– Reduce stimulation while doing the foot soak (e.g., mobile phones, bright lights)
– Focus on slowing down and deepening your breath, even play some relaxing music to really help you unwind
Article written by:
Chinese Medicine Practitioner