Apparently, there is a way to get more out of the same 24 hours everyone has to avail themselves of in a given day. New research suggests that this can be accomplished by syncing your biological clock to your daily schedule. By doing certain things at peak periods of energy and activity, there’s a chance you’ll be able to improve your productivity. Let’s take a closer look:
Your Biological Clock
Every person has a built-in biological clock, which is responsible for regulating the timing of many biological functions, such as when you sleep to when you reproduce. The Circadian rhythms within your biological clock manage daily cycles such as sleeping and waking, contributing to how much energy you have at given points throughout the day.
Shift workers, for example, constantly have to adjust their daily routine to meet the demands of their work schedule. Similarly, travelers may experience disturbances to their sleep-wake cycles that lead to a feeling of jet lag.
Do you notice how you’re seemingly more energized at certain times of the day? That’s because your body clock is responsible for far more than just the sleep-wake cycle. Mental alertness, hunger, stress, mood, heart function, and even immunity are also influenced by the body's daily rhythms.
The demands of daily life, such as school, commuting, work, and social events, are all responsible for disrupting your body’s natural cycles. Although making changes to your schedule might not always be easy, there are clear health benefits to doing so. Not only will doing so allow you to make better use of your time, but there are potential health implications too. Avoiding disruptions to your circadian rhythm make you less likely to suffer negative health outcomes such as depression and diabetes.
Your biological clock plays a major role in controlling your sleep-wake cycle. Your schedule, bedtime routines, and even your age can also play a role in affecting the cycle. The body’s natural sleep-wake cycle changes as we age. As people approach later adulthood, their cycle tends to shift toward rising early in the morning. In fact, it’s quite common to see older adults that prefer to go to bed earlier and get up earlier.
Seeing as most people’s energy levels take a dip in the early afternoon, it’s a great time to take a nap. Even if you’re not able to take one due to work commitments or otherwise, taking a quick break from what you’re doing might be beneficial.
A study conducted on mice determined that when the mice had their meals restricted to particular times, they were protected from excessive weight gain and metabolic diseases. Further research also suggests that eating times can also play a role in resetting your biological clock. Altering your eating schedule can also help you to reset your body clock to match a new daily routine.
This differs for many people, however as a general rule, we tend to be sharpest in the morning. Studies suggest that we tend to be at the height of our cognitive power during the late morning, so you might want to tackle any mentally-taxing activities you need to do before lunchtime.
There’s also a suggestion that alertness and attention levels wane after eating a meal. That’s why you’re likely to find it harder to concentrate at work after you’ve had your lunch. Concentration levels dip the most between noon and 4 pm. In fact, many people find themselves in need of an energy-boosting pick-me-up during those hours.
Tips for Adjusting
In spite of the fact that everyone’s biological clock functions differently, here are some tips for establishing a more productive daily schedule:
• Establish a sleep schedule: Set an alarm and go to bed at the same time each night. Wake up when your alarm goes off—no hitting that snooze button over and over again.
• Give it some time: Getting used to a new schedule may take a while, but stick with it until it starts to feel more natural.
• Pay attention to your energy levels: Try to arrange certain activities around your peak energy levels. Not everyone is the same, so your own energy levels may follow a slightly different schedule.
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