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Do you find yourself feeling sluggish in the mornings and wired at night? Or maybe you struggle to find focus throughout the day and are low on energy by the evening. These experiences might be due to a disconnect with your natural internal clock, known as your circadian rhythm, and it may be your sign to incorporate morning and night routines into your schedule.

Ancient wisdom traditions like Ayurveda have long recognized the importance of aligning our daily routines with nature and the body’s natural cycles. By mastering consistent morning and bedtime rituals, we can unlock our full potential and experience a greater sense of well-being.

The Science of Circadian Rhythms

Our bodies function on a 24-hour internal clock known as the circadian rhythm (in the human body, each tissue and organ has its own circadian rhythm, but that discussion would require a whole separate article). This complex system, which is primarily regulated by light exposure, influences various physiological processes like hormone production, sleep-wake cycles, digestion, and cell regeneration.

During the day, sunlight triggers the release of cortisol, the “wake-up” hormone (also known as the stress hormone), promoting alertness and focus. As the sun sets, melatonin production increases, prompting relaxation and preparing the body for sleep. Disrupting these natural rhythms through inconsistent sleep schedules or exposure to artificial light at night can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental health.

How Ayurveda Can Help Us Align with Our Natural Rhythm

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine, emphasizes living in harmony with nature’s cycles, including the circadian rhythm. It acknowledges three primary doshas —Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water)—that govern various bodily functions.

Each dosha is dominant during specific times of the day: Vata governs the early morning (4-6 AM) and dusk (6-8 PM), Pitta reigns during midday (10 AM – 2 PM), and Kapha dominates the morning (6-10 AM) and evening (6-10 PM). By understanding these doshic influences, we can create personalized morning and night routines that optimize our health and well-being.

Crafting Your Ideal AM Routine

The early morning hours, dominated by Vata’s light and airy energy, are ideal for activities that promote clarity and focus. Here’s how to craft a supportive morning routine:

  • Rise with the Sun: Ideally, wake up before sunrise (during Vata’s morning dominance) to naturally synchronize your circadian rhythm.
  • Hydrate: Begin your day with a warm glass of water to aid digestion and cleanse the system. Add lemon to really kickstart your digestive fire, known as “Cagni” in Ayurveda.
  • Movement & Mindfulness: Gentle yoga or meditation can help awaken the body and mind while promoting inner peace.
  • Nourish Wisely: Eat a light and energizing breakfast that aligns with your dosha. For example, Pitta individuals might benefit from fruits or yogurt, while Kapha types might prefer warm spices and ginger tea.

Harnessing the Power of the PM Hours

As the day progresses, Pitta’s fiery energy takes over, followed by the grounding influence of Kapha in the evening. Here’s how to create a calming night routine for optimal sleep:

  • Digital Detox: Wind down by turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Artificial blue light suppresses melatonin production, hindering sleep quality.
  • Light Dinner: Enjoy a light and easily digestible dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow for proper digestion. Opt for calming foods like vegetables, lentils, or warm milk with spices like nutmeg or cardamom.
  • Soothing Rituals: Engage in calming activities like reading, taking a warm bath with essential oils depending on your dosha (e.g. lavender for Kapha, sandalwood for Pitta), or gentle stretching.
  • Early Bedtime: Aim for a consistent sleep schedule, preferably going to bed before 10 PM, to align with Kapha’s dominance and promote restorative sleep.

Beyond Ayurvedic Routines

While routines are essential, Ayurveda emphasizes a holistic approach. Here are some additional tips to support your circadian rhythms:

  • Sunlight Exposure: Get regular morning sunlight to stimulate cortisol production and regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: Ayurveda acknowledges the changing seasons. During the colder months, you might naturally feel sleepier earlier. Adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s natural cues. If you feel tired in the afternoon, a short nap during Kapha’s time (around 2 PM) can be beneficial, but avoid napping late in the day.

By mastering morning and night routines that align with your circadian rhythm and Ayurvedic principles, you can unlock a new level of well-being. Consistent morning rituals can energize you for the day, while calming evening practices can ensure restorative sleep. As you become more attuned to your body’s natural rhythms, you’ll experience improved focus, better digestion, enhanced mood, and a sense of balance that empowers you.

Steph R. Long is a Chopra-certified Ayurvedic health instructor, meditation instructor, and well-being coach. She’s also the founder of holistic wellness and coaching company SRL Well-Being and the former Deputy Director of Enterprise for Refinery29 Unbothered, where she oversaw health, wellness, and spirituality content. As a queer Black wellness practitioner who strives toward inclusivity, Steph centers BIPOC and QTBIPOC, who are often underserved by the wellness industry. Her commitment is to help everyone rediscover their inner wisdom, empowering each of her clients to cultivate self-awareness and lead vibrant, purposeful lives.

Switching Up Your Daily Routines Could Change Your Life—Here’s How  was originally published on elev8.com