Start listening to your internal clock and give your brain and body a boost
In our hectic modern world, we’re often too busy to pay attention to our body’s natural rhythms. But studies suggest that by following our internal clock we could end up having more energy, improving our relationships, and even making better decisions. Here’s how to get the most out of your body’s natural timetable.
6.45am Cut out early-morning caffeine
When we wake up, most of us head straight to the kettle, but having a tea or coffee first thing isn’t the best way to kick-start our brains.
Nutritionist Caroline Blackmore says: ‘When we wake up, our body produces cortisol, a stress hormone that acts as a natural alarm clock to help us feel alert and awake. Consuming caffeine before 8am can interrupt our body’s natural production of cortisol and leave us hitting a mental slump much earlier in the day. Opt for two cups of hot water with lemon first thing instead. This will rehydrate your body, fire up your metabolism and flush out toxins.’
7.30am Have sex
The best time to slip between the sheets is 7.30am — around 45 minutes after you’ve woken up. This is because testosterone levels in men are at their highest, while both sexes have maximum energy after a good night’s rest. Endorphins sparked by morning sex can also lower blood pressure and stress levels, and make us feel more upbeat for the rest of the day.
9am Eat some chocolate
Eating a few squares of dark chocolate in the morning could be beneficial for our cognitive function and memory. Plus, an early morning sugar hit might even help us lose weight by reducing our desire to consume more later in the day.
10am Make your most important decision
The average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day, but if you’ve got a major decision to make, 10am is the best time to do it. This is because our concentration levels peak roughly three hours after we wake up.
12pm Get some sun
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, but it can be difficult to get your recommended daily dose. However, by going out for just 13 minutes at midday, three times a week, you can maintain healthy levels.
2pm Read, read, read
If you want to remember and understand something well, read it in the afternoon. A recent study suggests that between 2pm and 6pm is the optimum time to read something complex, as this is when our brain is better at semantic memory tasks.
Research suggests that muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon when our body temperature is highest. If you work out at the same time every day, your body will adapt to perform best at this time.
6.15pm Eat dinner
The optimum time for dinner is between 6pm and 6.30pm. Not only is your sleep less likely to be interrupted by indigestion, but leaving a longer gap between breakfast and dinner might also help you remain healthier and slimmer too.
If you shower before you go to bed, your skin quickly cools, which can help you drop off to sleep. A shower when you’re tired also helps you to relax and allows for creative thinking, helping you to solve problems you’ve been stewing on all day.
Instead of counting how many hours of sleep we’re getting, we should choose a bedtime that allows us to complete whole 90-minute sleep cycles so we don’t wake mid-cycle feeling groggy.
If you want to get up for 6.45am, aim to go to bed at either 9.30pm or 11pm. This allows you to go through either five or six 90-minute cycles. Calculate your perfect bedtime at sleep-calculator.com
Edited by Stephanie May