According to Ayurveda, a large percentage of our health can be won or lost in how we live our day-to-day life. It is our patterns of eating, sleeping, exercise and what we do daily to rejuvenate ourselves that can determine whether we stay healthy throughout our lifetime.
Ayurveda recognizes the importance of our relationship with the universe around us: if we live in accord with the laws of nature that structure our environment, we can keep our mind/body system functioning efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.
One key element in living in tune with our environment is when we go to bed and when we get up in the morning. There is a saying, “The day begins the night before.” Only by going to be early in the evening can the next day’s activity be fully in accord with the rhythms of nature.
When we are in bed by 10 P.M. we gain the deepest level of healing and rejuvenation from our sleep. This is because during the 4 hours before 10 P.M., kapha dosha is increasing in nature. This enlivens the qualities of heaviness and dullness in our mind and body and allows us to fall asleep more quickly and to experience deeper, less interrupted sleep.
After 10 P.M., pitta dosha starts to become enlivened. Pitta is involved in metabolic cleaning. The body needs to be inactive at this time so that the physiology can focus its intelligence and energy on metabolic cleansing and rejuvenation. When we stay up past 10 P.M., many people experience a “second wind”. Instead of being directed internally, pitta creates an increase in energy, creativity and, too often, hunger. This accounts for the infamous scourge of midnight snacking. While many busy adults feel that they are grabbing valuable “me” time in the late hours of the night, they are, in fact, robbing themselves of a valuable opportunity to heal and rejuvenate. In the long run, night owls may find themselves with deep-seated imbalances and ill health.
Ayurveda recommends that one wake up before 6 A.M. Since it is ideal not to be startled awake by alarms, the best way to spontaneously get up early—and feel rested— is to go to bed early.
The period before 6 A.M. is the time when all of nature is waking up. At this time vata dosha is most lively in the environment. Starting the day during vata time means our mind will experience more of the qualities of balanced vata throughout the day— increased energy, clarity, intelligence and alertness.
The longer we sleep past 6 A.M. the more we are asleep while kapha is dominating the environment. If we sleep in until 7:30, for example, we are lying dull and dormant for 1 and 1/2 hours of kapha time and we will wake up imbibed with those same qualities.
This simple adjustment in routine can make a huge impact on our health. If you are in need of extra “me” time, better to go to bed on time and wake up an hour earlier in the morning.
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