Ayurveda gives high importance to both preventive and curative aspects of health. We all are familiar with the definition of health according to the World Health Organization.
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Ayurveda has been adhering to this definition for more than 5000 years now. According to the Ayurvedic scholar Sushruta, the definition of health is as follows.
“sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha
Prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”
It means one is in perfect health when the three doshas ( Vata, Pitta and Kapha), digestive fire ( digestion, assimilation and metabolism), all the body tissues and components (dhatus), and all the excretory functions (the physiological functions of urination and defecation) are in perfect order with a pleasantly disposed and contented mind, senses, and spirit.
In order to maintain perfect health, Ayurveda scholars have explained in detail about dinacharya (daily regimen), rtucharya(seasonal regimen), achara rasayana (code of conduct) and others.
One of these concepts for preventive health mentioned in medieval Ayurveda textbooks is ‘ratricharya‘ or night regimen.
Let us look at what the classic Ayurvedic medical texts have mentioned about ratricharya.
The popular Ayurveda textbook Bhavaprakasha has mentioned certain actions that have to be contraindicated during the evening hours.
Here, evening time to be more precise is sandhya kala which is said to be the joining /junction period between the end of the day and beginning of the night time, a concept similar to ritu sandhi.
The concepts mentioned here would be more relevant in the ancient times since there was no source of power or light at night and the only source of light was moonlight.
Exposing yourself to moonlight is beneficial according to Ayurveda.
Sleep (nidra) is one of the main pillars of good health in Ayurveda and is as important as diet in sustaining a quality healthspan.
Ayurveda cautions that poor sleep patterns can be debilitating as it triggers age-associated pathological conditions that can hasten the aging process.
Research studies indicate that insufficient sleep can disrupt circadian rhythms that result in negative health outcomes, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment.
Poor sleep quality not only disrupts the circadian rhythms but also triggers metabolic diseases including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. 1
Ayurveda advises to sleep in the left lateral position and Sushruta advises walking 100 steps after dinner before sleeping.
Read More: This is What Happens When You Don’t Sleep
Sleep hygiene is defined as a set of behavioral and environmental recommendations intended to promote healthy sleep and was originally developed for use in the treatment of mild to moderate insomnia.
During the sleep hygiene education, patients learn about healthy sleep habits and are encouraged to follow a set of recommendations to improve their sleep (e.g., avoid caffeine, exercise regularly, eliminate noise from the sleeping environment, maintain a regular sleep schedule).5
Although research has demonstrated links between individual sleep hygiene components and subsequent sleep, evidence for the efficacy of sleep hygiene education as a treatment for insomnia has been limited and inconclusive.
We all know about the importance of maintaining consistent bedtimes for children.
Children with optimal bedtime routines have been found to perform better in tests of executive function, working memory, inhibition, attention, and cognitive flexibility.
Ayurvedic concepts of daily routines have had major implications for health research and helped establish a growing field of science called chronobiology.
Scientists are only now beginning to understand the importance of routines, biological clocks and circadian rhythms and their role in aging, well-being, and morbidity.
See Also: Sleep: Ayurvedic Home Remedies + 10 Tips To Improve Sleep
Researchers studying chronobiology have noticed that increased longevity and improved health can be achieved by time-bound routines.
Furthermore, disturbances in the circadian rhythm can trigger fatigue, disorientation, insomnia and increased susceptibility to cancer.2
Summarizing, a peaceful evening devoid of any contraindicated activities, a wholesome and nourishing dinner followed by a walk, brushing and cleansing the body and herbs like triphala, ashwagandhaand others along with a good night’s sleep ensures your ratricharya is complete.
Consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying any of the guidelines, routines, and herbs mentioned in this article.
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