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Is Yin Fire Keeping You Up at Night?

In today’s fast-paced world, we are consuming our vital substances at an accelerated rate. How can you prevent this from adversely affecting your life?

To fully understand the answer to this question, we first must examine the relationship between Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are two fundamental concepts which describe the dual nature off things in the universe.


For our purposes, we will focus on the relationship between hot/cold, dry/moist and day/night. Day, beginning at sunrise, is the Yang portion of the day, gradually increases in magnitude until noon when the sun is at its peak, which is considered “Absolute Yang”. After that peak until sunset, Yang is in gradual decline. At sunset, the Yin portion of the day begins and increases in magnitude until midnight, which, in turn, is termed “Absolute Yin”. Then as the night turns to day Yin gradually decreases and the cycle begins anew at sunrise. The human body’s systems mirror the environment that surrounds it. Our internal biology follows the cycles of the day and disruptions in the pattern will have far-reaching repercussions on our health. During the day – which corresponds to activity and energy – we are working, playing, thinking and completing our daily tasks. At night – which is passive and resting – we should be resting and allowing our bodies to recharge for the next day’s activity.

In the daytime, our body’s systems are fueled by the Yang. Its strong motive force provides the “oomph” that gets us through our daily activities. If we continue to labor at night, when Yin is predominant, the extended activity begins to consume the Yin to provide the energy we need to keep going. Think of this as a machine which can be powered by both solar and battery power. During the day, we are solar powered and should not be running low on energy. At night, if we wish to continue on as we did in the day we need the same level of energy production, only now there is no more sunlight to generate that power. We must, therefore, tap our battery reserve to access that energy we need. The catch is that this battery cannot be recharged through our solar energy, it must recharge at night. And as we consume our Yin, along with it we reduce the cooling, moistening capacity of the body.

Think of a car engine that is low on both coolant and oil. How much hotter is that engine going to run? How much faster is that engine headed for a breakdown or even a total failure? This is essentially what is happening day after day as we work and play later and later. When the body is suffering from consumption of the Yin we begin to see symptoms such as: insomnia, restlessness, irritability, dry mouth and eyes, headaches, constipation, poor digestion and low-level hypertension. While these symptoms are generally associated with heat syndromes there is no true heat in this condition. What has happened is that we have a deficiency of cool in the body. If the original levels of Yin and Yang are both 100, and now we consume 20% Yin through our lifestyle, then the new levels are Yin: 80 and Yang: 100. What we have here is essentially a 125% surplus of Yang – heat. But in reality we need to increase the Yin not decrease the Yang. This relative heat causes us to become restless at night and, unable to sleep, we develop irritability during the day, which in turn may lead to headaches. This syndrome cascades through all the systems of the body as the body continues to lose the cooling and moistening abilities it needs to function.

Aside from a “night owl” lifestyle, there are other factors that can damage and consume Yin. Many foods, spices and supplements can adversely affect the levels of Yin. Chief among these are spicy foods, caffeine and nicotine. Drugs, both pharmaceutical and recreational, will damage the Yin especially if taken over a long period of time. Fevers and infectious diseases will gradually cause damage to the Yin as they run their course.

So, late at night as you toss and turn, unable to achieve a good night’s sleep, what can you do to solve this problem? The body’s Yin must be replenished and restored. Acupuncture and herbal medicine offer effective solutions that are safe and non-habit forming. However, in order for it to be most effective, you must undergo some lifestyle changes in addition to your treatment plan.

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