When it comes to health and wellbeing, there are so many “leaders” with messaging that is often in conflict with another visionary who is heavily armed with their own version of their panacea. Since I have been studying Ayurveda, I have found that the gentle leadership of Mother Nature is the best guiding light for myself and others. Yes, she literally is THE guiding light when it comes to circadian science as studies of light and dark have demonstrated. Whenever I am out in nature it is so easy to follow her gentle cues as she nudges me awake bright and early from my tent or lulls me to sleep as the darkness triggers my own melatonin production.
Healthy circadian rhythm is essential for maintaining the health and natural balance of the body. In 2017 the scientific community recognized the importance of circadian rhythms and awarded a Nobel Prize. To date, there has been increased research on this topic and the scientific community has ascertained that our mitochondria, microbiome, genes, biochemistry, and wavelengths of light are vital aspects of this natural dance.
The ancient Ayurvedic texts describe “Rasayanas” which include various modalities to help to retain and restore longevity and life quality.* Many of these, including ashwagandha, have a prebiotic action which favorably shift the microbiome and consequently improve the function of the Adrenal-Hypothalamus-Pituitary (HPA) axis.* Of the many microbiome studies there are several early studies which hypothesize that the polyphenols in tea and apples may help improve circadian rhythm.* Other polyphenol-containing superstars include rosemary, turmeric, green tea, grapes, chocolate, berries and almost all plant-based foods.
Beyond herbs, we also know that body temperature, activity and eating habits can affect the cortisol and melatonin levels. These daily activities were the focus on another type of Rasayana known as Vihara Rasayana.
Other wonderful holistic practices to nurture your circadian rhythm include:
- Taking a cold shower in the morning will not only wake you up… but help you sleep at night
- If you can, wake up to see the sunrise before the heavy water/earth energy of kapha weighs you down and to kickstart your natural morning cortisol
- Try to get outside for at least fifteen minutes between 7-10am, and when warm, expose your torso for optimum vitamin D production!
- Your digestion and assimilation peaks around mid-day. If possible, eat your heaviest meal between 10am-2pm AND this is the best time to absorb all those supplements!
- Ideally, try to eat a lighter dinner and finish eating three hours before you go to bed to help cleanse, restore and repair your digestive system and liver
- Your sleep quality reflects the state of your nervous system and it is said that the best bedtime routine begins with a morning mindfulness practice
- Manage your stress hormones throughout the day by doing less and doing it slower and with more self-compassion
- Once the sun sets, avoid exposure to blue light by using the many available tools such as special glasses, phone settings, software, bulbs or even candles
- Watching the sunset with gratitude is not only uplifting on many levels but it cues melatonin production
- Consider adding nervine herbs to calm the mind
- Set your thermostat to 65ºF at night for the best quality sleep; One study found that the temperature of the room where you sleep is one of the most important factors in achieving quality sleep
- Get outside and unapologetically play in nature whenever you can
- “Keep calm and drink tea” (but not at night)
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About Joanne Roberts
With over 29 years of experience in supplement formulation and quality control, Jo is passionate about gardening, herbs, and nutrition and enjoys sharing her creations in her free time with loved ones. She is an avid adventurer who finds solace in the forest or bonding with her dog, goats, and chickens. Additionally, she is a mom, author, Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and is currently in the process of becoming an Ayurvedic Practitioner. Fueled by her own health journey, she is devoted to imparting the transformational wisdom of nature through the holistic art and science of Yoga and Ayurveda.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not diagnosed to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.