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Circadian Rhythms (Part 2)

The influence of circadian rhythms through the doshas

Benjamin Franklin said – “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Early morning from 2:00 AM – 6:00 AM is the Vata period and is the ideal time to wake up and follow the daily elimination. Vata increases again, so this is a crucial part of the sleep cycle. This is the time when the brain drains toxins into tiny lymph vessels. Many people find it difficult to sleep during these hours. The sense is that they have too much energy, but the reality is most sleep concerns are a result of chronic exhaustion. The nervous system needs the energy to sedate itself and fall asleep. In Ayurvedic practice, we never give sedatives for sleep. Instead, we provide deep rejuvenation herbs to help rebuild the nervous system to reconnect with circadian rhythms. This is the best time to sleep deeply and naturally, waking up before sunrise. 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM is another Vata period given to increased energy, ideal for creative ideas and relaxation. Again, Vata increases, corresponding to the air and ether elements and winter.  This is the best time for mental and creative energy, as the nervous system is more active. Craving sweets at this time indicates exhaustion, blood sugar issues, poor digestion, or that you didn’t eat a good lunch.  This is the best time for a light supper, as heavy suppers do not digest well.

Pitta period is mid-day between 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, an ideal time to eat a healthy, balanced meal and improve metabolism. Eating earlier in the day, including a good breakfast and lunch, has been linked to numerous health benefits, including reduced cholesterol and stress. If you skip lunch, as many people do, the circadian digestive clock still goes off. Hydrochloric acid (agni) in the stomach is still produced, and if there is no food to digest, this can predispose the gut to acid irritation and inflammation down the road. This is the one meal you do not want to miss. Night from 10:00 PM – 2:00 AM is the ideal time to sleep and improve tissue metabolism; Pitta increases again. Many folks get a second wind during this time of night. It is common to be sleepy at 8:00 or 9:00 PM (in the Kapha time of night), but by 10:00, you feel ready to go until 2:00 AM. It is pitta time, and one can get all fired up! Late night, however, is not the best time to try to change the world from your computer; it is the best time to be asleep. During these hours, the liver goes into detoxification mode to prepare the body for the next day. If you are up late regularly, you will disturb this circadian rhythm, and the liver will not effectively detoxify you.

The Kapha morning period 6:00 AM – 10:00 AM is ideal for exercising, eating a light breakfast, and improving creativity and focus. Scientific studies show morning exercise lowers stress hormones, reflecting why so many people prefer exercising in the morning. It makes the whole day feel better. Early is also the time to eat a good-sized breakfast, as it not only provides you a good source of fuel for the day, but studies find eating a healthy-sized breakfast helps reduce obesity and disease.From 6:00 PM– 10:00 PM, Kapha increases again, and it is the ideal time to have a lighter dinner and a natural way to go to sleep. This time, the heaviness is not for physical labor but rather to settle the body and mind in preparation for rest. It is the time when cortisol (the stress-handling hormone) drops.

Forest Road in Autumn Season

The influence of circadian rhythms on doshas and seasons

Late autumn to winter is predominant of Vata dosha. Mid-summer to early autumn is dominant of Pitta dosha. Spring to early summer is predominantly Kapha dosha. Respective disorders will be more during these seasons.

Circadian system on digestive health

The circadian system controls diurnal rhythms in gastrointestinal digestion, absorption, motility, hormones, barrier function, and the gut microbiota. The master clock, located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) region of the hypothalamus, is synchronized or entrained by the light-dark cycle and, in turn, synchronizes clocks present in peripheral tissues and organs. Your body has a master clock set in a control center of your brain.  It runs your sleep-wake cycle. This circadian clock gets set primarily by light and darkness running through the eyes to the brain, along with meal and exercise schedules. Feeding time is the most critical synchronizer of peripheral clocks; gut hormones, notably insulin and IGF1, are essential for communicating feeding time phase information to peripheral clocks.

Time-restricted eating, timed exercise, and Chrono biotics — agents that alter the circadian time system’s phase, amplitude, or period — hold promise for preventing or treating Chrono disruption and its associated diseases. The circadian clock has an impact on many aspects of our physiology. For example, this clock helps regulate sleep patterns, feeding behavior, hormone release, blood pressure, body temperature, and a large proportion of our genes.

Final take-home points:

  • Support Nature and Nature will support you.
  • Follow the biorhythms of Nature.
  • Follow the guidelines of the season.
  • Eat according to season, age, health condition, six tastes in each meal. Connect the mind-body.
  • Enjoy life.
  • Be happy. Don’t worry.

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