Sandra Chaloux

| 05/05/2016

How Stimulants Interrupt Your Sleep & Biorhythms with Tuan Nguyen

How Stimulants Interrupt Your Sleep & Biorhythms with Tuan Nguyen

You’ve worked hard all week, and you’re exhausted. You crash on Friday night, and sleep until noon on Saturday. But instead of waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you’re lethargic and still tired. What gives?

Your Body’s Routine and Biorhythm

It’s likely that you’ve thrown off your body’s biorhythm and energy cycle. Our bodies have two systems: the manual and the automatic. Automatic functions, like your heartbeat, breathing and hormone regulation, need an internal clock to help them synchronize and work together properly. That clock is affected by your routine and biorhythm.

The automatic system works according to the biorhythm of the body. Our bodies have twelve main energy pathways, or meridians. Each meridian peaks in energy for about two hours at different times of the day. This cycle of progressively peaking meridians is your biorhythm. That means that if a particular meridian should peak, but your system is disrupted and your biorhythm is thrown off, you can expect a cascading effect the rest of the day like dominos.

How Stimulants Throw Off Your Biorhythm

If you throw off your biorhythm by going to bed too late, the effects will last through to the next day. So when you need to get up in the morning and you can’t, you may turn to a nice pot of strong coffee to help you wake up. The problem is that coffee is a stimulant, and stimulants are like sudden acceleration on the freeway – it can cause accidents.

Using stimulants is also like using a credit card. You’re using borrowed money, and you need to pay it back as you go. But instead of money, what you’re using is borrowed energy. As soon as you use stimulants for increased energy, you need to replenish with sleep as soon as possible.

Many of us use stimulants in place of what we’re supposed to do naturally, like sleeping or eating. You can get away with it for a while. But if you do it long enough, you will drop dead from a heart attack or adrenal fatigue. Keeping your metaphorical debt low by replenishing your sleep can help you avoid these health risks.

The Effect of Stimulants on Sleep

You don’t naturally need coffee (or other stimulants), but our culture has altered our internal clocks and biorhythms so much that we feel we need caffeine. Coffee artificially picks you up, but it also means that you’re staying awake on borrowed time. Since the energy you’re functioning on is artificial, it drops very sharply – that’s the “coffee crash.” Then at night you can’t sleep because you have reversed your body’s timetable.

Keeping to a consistent sleep pattern during the week and on the weekend is important to keep your energy biorhythm working optimally. Likewise, you can’t keep borrowing energy with stimulants and still be able to keep your biorhythm intact. Stimulants are not a replacement for sleep, and using them as a replacement over the long term is a recipe for serious health risks. To avoid these risks and to improve your energy throughout the day; use stimulants sparingly, pay them off with extra sleep after you use them, and keep to a daily routine.

Tuan Nguyen is a third generation acupuncturist and herbalist and the owner of Acupuncture & Herb Clinic, LLC in Sterling, VA. He has been practicing acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine in the United States since 1997.