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.