The biological routine of the human being.
Ayurveda, which literally means “science of life,” states: ” as is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.” Therefore, our body is a reflection of the universe. At every moment, the body undergoes profound changes to adjust to the continuous alterations of the environment and its recurrent cycles. Ayurveda has a unique interpretation of these cycles: it recognizes three major forces, or energies, each of which exert a significant influence on the body and mind for four hours, twice over a 24-hour period.
From 6am to 10am. First Cycle Kapha.
The first cycle begins with the birth of a new day. Let’s suppose the sun rises at 6am; Between 4:30am and 5am nature begins to wake up. As the sun rises it becomes more active.
Ayurveda calls this period the “Kapha time”, which means that our body is still a little asleep. This allows the body to gather strength and endurance. Whether we wake up with an alarm or not, by six o’clock in the morning the renal glands secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, so the body is set in motion; it is something like a battery that starts a motor.
At that time, sex hormones also reach their highest levels. And, whenever our eyes see natural daylight, the brain increases the production of the powerful hormone called serotonin, which helps us to generate joy and enthusiasm to enjoy a happy, stress-free day. During the first hours of the morning we show a more relaxed and free-flowing attitude, like a sense of calm with our feet on the ground, than for example, in the afternoon.
From 10am to 2pm. First cycle Pitta.
In the morning, the heat of the sun begins to increase as it gains height. At noon, solar energy reaches its highest level. Between 10am and 12pm our attention and cognitive capacity is at its maximum level. At noon, the Agni, or digestive fire, is more effective. That is, digestive juices (bile, hydrochloric acid, enzymes and other digestive substances) are more abundant and concentrated during this period.
The Pitta Cycle runs in parallel to the serotonin cycle, which is not surprising since most serotonin is secreted in the digestive system at noon. An significant serotonin secretion is equivalent to a potent secretion of Agni. On the other hand, deficient Agni leads to a lack of appetite, low stamina and depression.
Consuming only light food when the body is prepared to digest the most important meal of the day is like putting fifteen liters of gasoline in the tank of an automobile when the trip requires it to be full. The body will not have the nutrients it needs to carry out the numerous and complex activities essential to staying healthy and being full of energy.
For this reason, Ayurveda recommends that the main meal of the day be eaten between 12pm and 1pm.
Eating at different times of the day during the week and over the weekend is even worse than consuming the main meal of the day in the afternoon. It is important to maintain a regular schedule in order to avoid creating confusion in the body when it comes to secreting hormones and gastric juices.
Whenever food is healthy and nutritious, the digestive process will give us the maximum vitality and energy needed for the next 24 hours. If we feel tired and sleepy after eating, this is an indication that Agni is too weak to adequately digest the food.
Instead of revitalizing and filling up on energy from food, the body has to expend its energy in processing it. As a result, we have very little energy left to attend to other physical or mental activities. Usually drowsiness after eating is due to one or more of the following reasons:
• The food is too heavy or the combination of food is harmful, for example, fruit with cereals, animal protein with starches.
• Sleep at night has been insufficient.
• The food is consumed much later than 1pm.
• Not enough bile is secreted (Pitta) to digest food well (due to gallstones).
From 2pm to 6pm. The first Vata cycle.
Vata or “movement” is responsible for the physical transport of food through the intestinal tract and for absorbing nutrients and transporting them to the trillions of cells in the body.
Vata or “movement” is responsible for the physical transport of food through the intestinal tract and for absorbing nutrients and transporting them to the trillions of cells in the body. The Vata, or the cycle from 2pm to 6pm, can only perform well and in due time if Pitta (bile and other digestive juices), or the cycle from 10am to 2pm, can act in advance on the food. If we eat late, for example, between 2pm and 3pm, Pitta is altered. Insufficient secretion of bile and other digestive juices leads to poor absorption of food, which is one of the main causes of nutritional deficiencies.
In the afternoon, the Vatta cycle propitiates a higher mental performance and study capacity than during other hours.
On the other hand, if there are problems of intestinal malabsorption and a metabolic imbalance, they are accentuated in this period. A Vata imbalance can manifest in the form of increased irritability, nervousness, flatulence, gas and cravings for sweet foods or other stimulants such as tea, coffee, caffeinated soft drinks, chocolate or tobacco. Cravings, especially during the afternoon, indicate that the body has digestive problems and malnutrition, possibly due to not consuming the main meal of the day on time.
From 6pm to 10pm. The second Kapha cycle.
The sun’s energy decreases considerably after 18 hours, just like Vata activity. This leads to the onset of the Nighttime Kapha Cycle, during which digestion, the metabolism and other physiological activities are diminished.
The digestive fire, Agni, which closely follows the solar movement, clearly declines at nightfall. For this reason, Ayurvedic medicine recommends eating a light meal in the evening, around 6pm. This way, there is enough time for digestion before going to bed. Research has shown that the most important digestive enzymes are no longer generated after 8pm.
Therefore, when dining later than 7pm, food will not be properly digested and instead it will break down whilst still in the stomach. Everyone knows the feeling of heaviness or the uncomfortableness of acid indigestion, which are the unpleasant signs of poor digestion.
In the Kapha cycle from 6pm to 10pm, body and mind become slower and heavier. This induces drowsiness. In fact, it is very beneficial to get to bed and fall asleep before Kapha’s influence stops (at 10pm). Most people feel sleepy or dozy between 9pm and 10pm. That sensation is the result of the secretion of a natural tranquilizer produced by the brain when it wants us to go to sleep. It seems that melatonin has a significant influence on sleep, because the more melatonin we produce in the evening, the more sleep we will have. Individuals who do not feel sleepy between 9:30pm and 10pm have a melatonin production disorder.
At around 9pm the body’s immunity levels begin to decline, as evidenced by the sudden drop in endorphins and corticosteroids, which are the weapons used by the body to fight inflammation. During this period, the body tries to save as much energy and physical resources as possible, and this for good reason, as explained below.
From 10pm to 2am. The second Pitta cycle.
The body encourages us to go to sleep before the Pitta cycle resumes its second cycle in the 24-hour day. The Pitta influence begins at 10pm and lasts until 2am. During that time, Pitta energy is primarily responsible for cleaning, regenerating and rejuvenating the body. The liver absorbs most of the body’s energy at those times and performs a surprising variety of activities that add up to over 500 different functions. Among them is the contribution of vital nutrients and energy to the whole body, the decomposition of harmful substances and the cleaning of blood.
In addition, liver cells produce bile during this phase, which is necessary for digesting food, especially fats, the next day. One of the main functions of the liver is to synthesize proteins that serve as the basic component of cells, hormones and blood.
Since the liver is a very active organ, it needs a considerable amount of energy. The strong metabolic rate of this organ generates a lot of heat, which makes it the main producer of heat in the body. However, if we do not take into account our biological rhythm and instead we stay awake during this period, the energy left for the liver to perform the important tasks is diminished, so that eventually the result is a decrease in liver function, the appearance of intrahepatic calculi and health disorders.
If the individual exhausts the nocturnal energy of the liver by forcing it to digest food or by performing physical or mental activities, this vital organ has very little energy left to accomplish its crucial task. Most Pitta energy should be reserved for the liver and also, to a large extent, for the kidneys. Thus, these can filter blood plasma, maintain the balance of body fluids and normal blood pressure.
While the brain barely accounts for about fifty percent of body mass, it usually contains more than a quarter of the total amount of blood in the body. However, at night, during the Pitta cycle, most of the blood in the back of the brain flows to the liver, where it is stored and purified. If mental or physical activities are performed during this time, the liver does not receive enough blood to perform properly. Nor can it clean the blood sufficiently. The result is the accumulation of toxic substances in the liver and in the bloodstream.
If toxins continue to circulate in the blood, they will eventually settle in the interstitial fluid (connective tissue) of organs and body systems, increasing the acidity and causing damage to these organs and systems, including the liver. A high degree of toxicity in the blood causes the secretion of stress hormones, lightheadedness, injury to capillaries, heart muscles and arteries. Most heart disease is the result of the malfunctioning of a liver that is unable to remove all toxins and harmful substances from the blood daily. When we do not give the liver the energy it needs to carry out its fundamental tasks, we are spreading disease throughout our body.
From 2am to 6am. The second Vata cycle.
The period between 2am and 6am is controlled by Vata. Its morning cycle is responsible for draining the body’s waste products from the liver, cells, intestines and all other parts of the organism and transporting them to the detoxification and elimination organs and systems.
Thus, the lymphatic system neutralizes harmful microbes, metabolic waste, cell debris, useless cells and cells damaged by disease. The rectum solidifies the fecal matter and helps drain the intestine. The kidneys carry urine to the bladder, where urination originates from. The skin also receives waste products that begin to appear during that period. Hence the importance of washing or showering in the morning.
The whole body is set to excrete useless products. Around 70% of the waste material is removed through the lungs, 20% through the skin, 7% through urine and 3% through feces. Any long-term congestion in the colon, liver or kidneys makes the organism into a garbage dump.
At the end of the Pitta cycle, which marks the beginning of Vata time, the body temperature begins to drop to its lowest level around 4am (the apogee of the Vata phase). Towards the end of the Vata cycle between 2m and 6am, when nature begins to become more active, body temperature and stress hormone levels such as adrenaline and cortisol are high enough to start the day in a generally clean state. However, to help make waste disposal complete and effective, the body needs to be awake and upright.
The force of gravity plays a very important role in the circulatory and cleaning function of the organism. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends that we preferably rise before the sun rises or at dawn, but not after the sun has risen. The easiest way to control waking time is to set the time we go to sleep. If we need more hours to feel comfortable, then we should go to bed even earlier.
The draining of the intestine involves the greatest effort of the body and absorbs much of the body’s energy. To help the body to make that effort, we must stand and wake up in the morning. Going to bed early and getting up early is the best health advice you can give.
THE RISKS OF DEPARTING FROM THE NATURAL ROUTINE.
Regular withdrawal from any of the biological rhythms can break the balance of mind and body. For example, let’s imagine that we sleep until 8am, that is, up to two hours within the Kapha cycle (low activity). This means that the Vata removal functions and movements can not complete the transport of waste during the final phase of the Vata cycle, which occurs at 6am. However, since the Vata influence is still very strong at that time, its movement is restricted and reversed, like when the course of a river is interrupted by the wall of a dam.
Because of this, some of the debris is pushed back rather than being excreted. The same situation occurs in the urinary system. Part of the urine goes back and returns to the kidneys, which disrupts the balance of body fluids and causes inflammation of the face, eyes and abdomen. In addition the wastes that the skin tries to eliminate are reabsorbed and begin to penetrate in the lymph nodes and sanguineous torrent. When fecal matter begins to return to the colon, congestion occurs throughout the gastrointestinal tract. The lymphatic ducts become clogged, resulting in edema in the intestines and other parts of the body.
Frequent lymphatic congestion greatly stresses the heart and undermines the heart’s effort to maintain circulation. In addition to other symptoms, it can cause heaviness, numbness, and swelling of the eyes and face.
Ayurveda notes that sleeping during the Daytime Kapha Cycle (6am to 10am) can lead to severe congestion causing respiratory and circulatory problems, mental dullness and generalized lethargy for hours.
A lack of exposure to the sun during the morning hours can lead to a low serotonin secretion. This can cause diminished joy and enthusiasm, and lead to chronic depression. The desire to continue sleeping and not wanting to wake up in the morning are the first signs of depression.
Another side effect of sleeping up to the Kapha period is the reduction of Agni or digestive fire, which creates digestive problems. Agni increases naturally when morning levels of serotonin increase. For this reason, it is best to see the light of the sun as soon as it dawns. This was customary around the world before the invention of electricity and clocks.
The degree of deviation from the rhythms of nature will mark the intensity of the battle within our organism, the discomfort or ailments that we must face physically and mentally.
It is strongly recommended that anyone who suffers any kind of illness begins by living in harmony with the natural rhythms of their body to the extent possible. This will help a lot in the healing process and will help prevent any ailment.
Being in harmony with the natural rhythms of life is one of the best decisions a healthy person can make to maintain health.
The information published on our blog is extracted from the Bibliography used for the development of the Sowen Point software.
- Between heaven and earth: a guide to chinese medicine. (Harriet Beinfield, Efrem Korngold).
- El Equilibrio a través de la alimentación. (Olga Cuevas Fernández).
- Timeless secrets of health and rejuvenation. (Andreas Moritz).
- Holistic health through Macrobiotics.(Michio Kushi con Eduard Esko).
- Fundamentos de Bioenergética. (Carlos Nogueira Pérez).
- Tratado de sanación en el arte del soplo. (José luis Padilla Corral).
- El gran libro de la medicina china. (Li Ping).