If you’ve been feeling like a zombie from Spring Forward, then it might be time to master an ancient Ayurvedic concept that doesn’t get nearly enough attention these days. Spring Forward, or the transition to Daylight Savings Time in the United States, can make it difficult to adjust to the new time, leaving people feeling fatigued and disoriented. Sleep is so important to health and longevity, and poor sleep, or lack of, has been correlated with an insane amount of health issues.
Ayurvedic scholars wrote about a way to improve health and longevity through creating a ratricharya. Ratri means night and charya means behaviors. So ratricharya is your night time routine. We’ve all been told from the time we are children that we need to brush our teeth before bed, and yet, sometimes people spend their evening munching in front of the TV, falling asleep on the couch, and often forget even the basic hygiene practices. Ratricharya is important for not just hygiene, but also to ensure a good night’s sleep.
If you’re learning about Ayurveda, or wellness in general, then you may have heard about the importance of a morning routine. That idea comes from a word that’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic practice: dinacharya, or the daily routine. But the evening routine is just as important as the morning routine. When either the daily or evening routines become disrupted or corrupted, then this is where health issues are born. Daylight savings corrupts our evening routine, and creates a sleep deficit, much like sleeping during a storm, having a newborn baby or puppy, or having too much on our minds might also do.
The best way to recover from Spring Forward is to follow a consistent evening routine, and avoid a drastic shock from the time change.
Importance of Evening Routines
I assume you are already doing all the hygienic things that humans need to do before bed, like brushing your teeth and flossing. Don’t skip those in the evenings, ever! I don’t care how tired you are after binge watching three episodes of The Witcher. Don’t fall asleep in front of a screen. Don’t get too lazy to care for basic hygiene. If you love yourself, please do your self-care at night.
I recommend saving something like oil pulling for the mornings because your tissues need to properly drain afterwards, and they will do that more efficiently during the day when you are talking and moving your jaw around. If you wear a fair amount of makeup, which I hope you don’t have to, then remove it before bed.
You can also stretch, turn down the lights, and do anything else that relaxes you because you want to be tired and not easily aroused when it comes time to fall asleep and stay asleep. One practice I love is tratak, in which you gaze at a candle for a few minutes. It’s a great practice for people who struggle with traditional meditation, as well as people who can sit forever.
Recently, I suggested to someone that she schedule a nervous breakdown for herself every evening before bed. I was half-joking. I really think it’s important to release any pent-up emotions from the day, even if you feel like you are over it because you are home and in your own space. Oftentimes, our brains tell us we’re okay so we can get on with all the things we have to do during the day, but meanwhile, our bodies are clenching somewhere that we haven’t dealt with yet. That means doshas are being trapped in the body instead of flowing properly.
Dress yourself in clothes that feel good, or go naked. Go for a weighted blanket (vata) or a light blanket (pitta and kapha). Whatever feels better to you. It’s important that you get good sleep if you want longevity and a healthy, fertile life.
Here are a few simple steps that can be added to your routines starting the week before Spring Forward.
Make Spring Forward a Breeze
1. Make sure you're getting enough sleep the week before changing the clocks—aim for 7-9 hours per night.
2. Exercise or take walks in the fresh air during the day to help your body adjust to the new time.
3. Eat healthy meals at regular times throughout the day and avoid caffeine close to bedtime.
4. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier every night, and wake up 10 minutes earlier every day for 6 days before changing the clocks.
5. Avoid looking at screens (phone, tablet, television) close to bedtime, as the bright light can interfere with your natural circadian rhythm (body clock).
6. If necessary, take a small nap during the day or early afternoon for a quick refresher without affecting your nighttime sleep schedule too much.
Spring Forward 2024 is on March 10, so paste a link to this page on your calendar or reminders on March 3rd, and get better and better at self-care every year!