Daylight Savings & Disrupted Rhythms
A couple of weekends ago was “Daylight Savings Time” here in the States, which means we turned back our clocks an hour. That hour difference always has a significant impact on my body, and it always takes awhile to fully catch up.
I was reminded of why my body has a hard time adjusting as I read through John Douillard’s book — The Three Seasons Diet. John Douillard is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and his writing reminds me why I love Ayurveda so much — The Science of Life 🙂
In his book John compares nature’s harvesting or growing seasons — Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter with the body’s natural changes. He writes about the power of circadian rhythms in the body and “The Daily Cycle” connection.
Every creature within nature, including humans beings, operates according to what are known as diurnal or circadian rhythms – patterns of physiological functioning that repeat every 24 hours.
– John Douillard
For example, birds wake up with the sun and sleep when it sets. Some flowers open their petals in the daylight and close them again at dusk.
In humans, a key hormone called cortisol is released to help cope with the stress of daily life. Cortisol is supposed to increase in the early morning hours, decrease in the evening. When we sleep blood pressure, heart rate and body temperatures drop, then rise again in the morning.
These are all examples of daily circadian rhythms signaling times of waking and times of rest.
I can’t help but wonder…. do my circadian rhythms know that the clocks say it is now an hour early? I think, probably not right away….. 🙂
The Three Growing Seasons in The Daily Cycle
In John Douillard’s book he compares the three growing seasons in relation to the body’s circadian rhythms. This relationship has to do with the qualities of each season in relationship with our internal “seasons”.
The Daily Cycle breaks down as follows….
6:00 AM to 10:00 AM is Spring time. The characteristics of Spring (heavy, wet, etc) brings about sluggishness in the body. To help prevent this sluggish feeling, John recommends exercise during this time. This helps to get things moving inside and out 🙂
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM is Summer time. This is the hottest time of the day and when the body’s digestive juices are strongest. Mid-day is the best time to eat the largest meal of the day.
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM is Fall/Winter time. This time of day is the best time to do tasks requiring brain power or creative juices — much like these seasons provoke 🙂
Spring returns from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM and things become sluggish again. It is best to eat a light dinner before 6:00 PM as digestive juices really slow down after this time. As with Spring in the morning, light exercise during this time is helpful.
Summer returns from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM. This is when the digestion needs a rest as does the rest of the body – so no eating, just sleeping 🙂 This period of time is a key time period for rejuvenation in the body.
Ever noticed the burst of energy that arrives if you don’t make it to bed by 10PM? This connects to the adrenal glands which release around 10:30 PM. If I don’t make it to bed early enough in this time block then I can easily ride this Summer energy wave to 2:00 in the morning 🙂
(Following this pattern all the time, however is not a good idea).
Fall/Winter returns from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM. This is the still part of the day and compares to Fall/Winter as it is light and airy. This is the best time of the day for prayer and/or meditation.
These times are based on sunrise and sunset so they vary as we move deeper into Summer and Winter.
On the Positive Side?
Daylight Savings Time comes on the cusp of a seasonal change this week — March 20th is the Spring Equinox (in the northern hemisphere – “Fall Equinox” in the Southern). This means that the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of the day and night is nearly equal.
Hopefully this natural balance will help kick my body back into balance. While I definitely enjoy more light at the end of the day I wish that I didn’t have to mess with the clock! It definitely throws off my natural rhythms.
However, after writing this post I’m thinking I should probably be rising earlier, Lol. Perhaps this seasonal review shall serve as motivation 🙂 According to John Douillard rising too far after sunrise means achy joints and sluggishness carried through the day. Who wants that, right?
I definitely can relate to the daily cycle and how important it is for me to find a steady rhythm arising from consistency — routine — a glorious thing! 🙂
Do you struggle with the time change too? Do you notice your body’s own circadian rhythms and have you found a steady routine? I’d love to hear from you….
Much love to you lovely 🙂