What You Need to Know About Your Circadian Rhythm

Circadian Rhythm

You probably heard of the Circadian Rhythm, our inner biological clock. It’s affected by the intensity of light, ambient temperature, and meal times, among other things, and influences blood pressure and body temperature, alertness and concentration, and reaction times. Aligning our schedule to our internal biological clock can help us not only improve our everyday performance, but do what we do in harmony with our inner rhythm.

Here are a couple of things you should know about the Circadian rhythm.

10 AM – Highest alertness/concentration: Great Time to Be Writing/Studying

Our brain needs a bit of time to wake up. Concentration reaches a peak around 10 AM. If you can work or study in the morning, waking up 1 or 2 hours before 10 AM and getting busy is a good recipe to getting your most challenging work done before noon.

12 PM – First Alertness/Energy Dip: Good Hour to Eat or Rest

After the 10 AM concentration peak, performance starts decreasing. Around 12 PM we stop being as alert and engaged, and it’s a good time to take a break. After about an hour or so we can get back to work with renewed energy.

14:30 – Best Coordination Time

This can be a good time to do some light exercising, or just stretch the legs a bit.

3 PM – Second Alertness/Energy Dip

Time for a snack or a nap. You don’t want to take too long with it, though, because…

3:30 PM – Best Reaction Time

If there’s still some work , this can be a good time to continue with renewed energy.

5 PM – Great Time For Muscle/Cardio Training

Around this hour our body enjoys the greatest cardiovascular efficiency and muscle strength. Excellent time for some push-ups and other exercises. You do have to factor in other things, of course, like the weather – it may be too hot for exercising at this hour if it’s the middle of the summer.

6 PM – Onset of Third Alertness/Energy Dip

After this hour the body starts to enter evening mode. Blood pressure rises and body temperature follows suit. Taking it easy in the evenings, instead of trying to get some extra work done, can help us relax so that we wake up early and fresh.

2 AM – Deepest Sleep

To wake up well rested, it’s important to fall asleep before this hour. Ideally, we’d all be in bed and snoring by 10:30-11:00, but it’s not that easy. For my part, I enjoy midnight best, and often I’m more than willing to sacrifice an hour’s worth of sleep for a moonlit walk or bicycle ride, or for some spontaneous handwriting. I find that if i manage to get to bed before 0:45, I can wake up early and fresh.

Not everyone has the opportunity to arrange his or her schedule in harmony with his or her biological clock, but those of us who work or study from home, or else have flexible schedules, can do so and benefit from it.

Even if your schedule is more rigid, you can still implement insight from this post into your everyday life. For example, you can take your lunch breaks or naps during the energy dips, or get the most challenging work done in the morning, when you’re most alert and focused.

10 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Your Circadian Rhythm

  1. This was thoroughly enjoyable to read. I am not in tune with my biological clock. Mine is all over the place. I will try to adhere to these guidelines and see if my mood becomes better throughout the day. Thank you for sharing, a lot of things now make sense 🙂

  2. This is so eye opening! Now my energy is up and I’m ready for some cardio. Ha!
    I will definitely pass this along to my daughter who recently got her personal trainer’s license. I’ve always started on social media, including blogging, first thing and then cut myself off around 9:30, but according to this, I should probably cut myself off at 8:00 and get my “real” writing done before lunch time.
    Thanks for sharing!

      1. Is that because there are too many ideas to sort out? Since stream-of-conscious writing works best right after we wake, I bet our brains are better off without checking the Internet first. Do you avoid email too? I’m up in the mountains, but will try my new routine starting tomorrow.

        1. Yes, and the fact that you have to choose what to follow/read more about/like depletes the brain’s decision-making reservoir. I have such strict personal email policies that in spite of using four or five accounts, no more than 2-3 emails at most reach my inbox every day. It’s bliss.

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