We all know that in terms of health, prevention is better than cure, but how do we prevent disease and maintain good health? We do this by developing good habits and avoiding bad habits.
How do we promote good habits? We do this by living in harmony with nature. In Chinese philosophical language we might call this ‘living in accordance with the Dao’ or ‘being in harmony with yin and yang’.
Nature works in regular cycles and our bodies are no different. Our bodies love routine. This is called circadian rhythm (1). There is a proper time to sleep, a proper time to wake and a proper time to eat. Every morning, dawn is the birth of yang. This is not the best time for sleeping. This is time to wake up and get moving – a good time to warm up the body with exercise and a good time to focus and sharpen our sleepy mind with meditative practice. After this we should be awake, fresh and ready for a good breakfast to fuel a productive day ahead.
As the sun goes down in the evening, this is the decline of yang and the birth of yin. As we come to the later hours, this is the time for us to wind down and relax and prepare ourselves for a good restorative sleep. If we find ourselves lying in bed with mind racing, thinking about 10,000 things, then we need to work on improving our evening routine. Sometimes it is a good idea to set an alarm to remind ourselves when bed time is approaching.
This is an especially good idea for the workaholics and internet addicts among us, allowing us time to break away from the activities that we are engrossed in and prepare ourselves for sleep. There are various different bedtime rituals which can be great to help us transition into a good night’s sleep – maybe taking a shower, doing some stretches or some quiet meditation before bed. My best general suggestion for people without a good bedtime ritual is to google ‘sleep hygiene’ and do some research of your own. You’ll be glad you did!
In the modern world, everybody has their own unique needs and their own unique set of challenges. Not everybody can live by the same ‘perfect’ routine but at least we all should have a routine.
Without routine, life is just chaotic and good health can’t be sustained from chaos!
(1) Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock, https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-