Ratricharya (Night Time Routine)

Not long time ago, before the invention of electricity, when the sun went down and the last candle burnt down, humans would also retire to bed, so people used to live much more with the rhythm of nature. Today, however, people are getting more and more disconnected from nature, which leads to many diseases.

In Ayurveda we practice a daytime routine, which takes place from 6am to 6pm and is called Dinacharya. Similarly, we also have a nightime regime, which takes place from 6pm to 6am and is called Ratricharya. Having a proper night time regime ensures that we can wake up early and start the day full of energy. It is important to know that the day actually starts the evening before, because our choices in the evening determine how we feel in the morning.

The night is divided into three periods: 6PM-10PM is kapha time, 10PM-2AM is pitta time and 2AM-6AM is vata time.

6PM-10PM is kapha time.

During this time we should practice the following routine:

  1. Take evening bath before sunset (Srimad-bhagavatam 3.33.14 purport). Do not take bath soon after taking meal or late in the evening. You can use some natural powder or soap for bathing.
  2. Do not eat, sleep, engage in sexual intercourse, walk for a long distance in the evening (4PM-6PM) or in sandhya kala (sunrise, noon, sunset).
  3. Have a light dinner between 6PM and 8PM [1]. Bhojanam Prathama Prahara Antare. Acharya Sushruta recommends to take food twice a day: one time in the morning (around 11am) and one time in the evening (around 6PM). An  Indian proverbs says that a yogi eats once a day, a bhogi (enjoyer) eats twice a day and a rogi (sick person) eats thrice a day. 6PM-10PM is dominated by kapha. So our dinner should be kapha balancing. Kinchit oonam Samashniyaat – make dinner the smallest meal of the day, eat less than during lunch. According to Ashtanga Sangraha Sutrasthana Acharya, food should be laghu (light to digest) and hita (wholesome). Durjaram Varjayet. Intake of curd at night is strictly prohibited.[2] We should not take oily food, sweets, junk food, heavy food, cold or frozen food. Some examples of food that is light to digest are moong dal, cooked vegetables. Make sure that you can digest the food before you go to sleep. 
  4. Take hot milk. A perfect choice for dinner is hot milk. To prepare it, boil the milk from protected cows three times. If you add a little grated fresh turmeric or turmeric powder, the milk will be easier to digest. And if you add a little bit of ghee, it will improve immunity, digestive strength and give other health benefits. You can add a little bit of sugar in the milk. Milk should be sipping hot, in this way it will retain its nutritional value. Take it at least 1.5 hours before sleep. Adults can take 250ml-500ml of hot milk, children 500ml-1l [3]. Milk does not combine well with most other foods, exceptions are dates and almonds. 
  5. Wash your hands thoroughly after dinner. Pani prakshalana.
  6. Touch your eyes with moist fingertips. Netra sparsha.
  7. Brush your teeth. Danta shodhana. Brush your teeth with natural toothpaste and clean your tongue with a bronze or silver tongue scraper, remove food particles from between teeth using teeth picks.
  8. Gargle the mouth. If there is coating or bad odour in the mouth, one should gargle the mouth with sterile water or oil.
  9. Take 100 steps in the moonlight. Gamana.Walking outside will allow your meal to get digested. Moonlight has a good and healing effect on one’s body. Therefore, it is good to be exposed to Jyotsna or moonrays.
  10. Switch off your electronic devices at least 1 or 2 hours before sleep. Otherwise, staring at electronic devices will disturb your sleep.
  11. Practice gratitude (prayer) to the Lord.[1] Thank the Lord for all of the good things that happened during the day. Offer obeisances to your teachers and guides.
  12. Read a book in a well lit place and/or meditate. This will calm down the mind and let you sleep better. Mantra meditation is especially helpful.
  13. You can also do pranayama or yoga. Similarly like we do sun salutations in the morning, we can do moon salutations in the evening.Brahmari (Buzzing Bee Breath) & Sama Vriti (Box Breath) Pranayama just before you sleep helps calm the mind, draw the attention inwards and balance vata dosha. 
  14. Massage your feet (pada abhyanga) with ghee. It will help to remove pitta from the body and help you to become more relaxed. According to Ashtanga Hridayam foot massage is recommended daily.
  15. Take triphala mixed with honey and ghee half an hour before you go to sleep [4]. It will strengthen vision, remove toxins, help to maintain health and cure the diseases, also promote elimination next morning. 
  16. Apply ghee in the nostrils. Put 2 drops of Ghee Nasal Drops or regular ghee in each nostril, preferably before going to sleep at night. Lie on your back. Avoid pillow and drinking water for the first 15 minutes. If water cannot be avoided, drink warm water.
  17. Go to sleep early, latest by 9PM. Sleeping in the kapha period gives you the best quality of sleep. If you go to sleep earlier, you will be able to wake up earlier and be well rested and full of energy. Sleep in a dark room. If your room is not dark, the put eye mask. Prefer to sleep in left laternal position. According to Ashtanga Sangraha Sutrasthana Acharya, one should sleep with the head towards East or South. Pleasant sleep is the source of good health and pleasure.

10PM-2AM is pitta time.

It is important to be sleeping during this time, because this is the time of internal cleansing.

2AM-6AM is vata time.

This is the best time to wake up. It is especially recommended to wake up in Brahma Muhurta (1.5 hours before sunrise). The early morning vata time is not a time of creativity, but rather of receptivity. Yogis discovered long ago that this time of day, when air and ether dominate, is the best time of day for meditation, prayer, chanting and other spiritual practices.

Implement these practices gradually

Try to gradually implement a few of these practices. Remember that taking a new habit takes a little efforts but you will see a big difference in how you feel in the morning and how easily you can wake up and dive into your activities in the day.

[1]. Dr.BulusuSitaram,Foreword by
Prof.K.C.ChunekarBhavaprakasa of
bhavamisra (original text along with
commentary and translation) Vol 1,
published by Chaukhamba Orientalia,
Varanasi,Reprint edition 2015, Chapter

[2]  Charak Samhita with Charak Chandrika Hindi commentary, by Dr. Tripathi Brahmanand, Chaukhamba Surbharti Prakashan, Sutra Sthan, 2007; 7(61): 187.

[3] Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation—New Vrindaban, June 24, 1976

[4] Astangasangrah by Vagbhata, English Commentary by Dr.Vishwavasu Gaur, published by chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, First Edition 2010, As.sa.Su.Chapter10/20.

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