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Your Body’s Best Clock For Everything

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Wake Up To Your Best Day. Your body peaks at certain times of the day and night. So when is it best to wake up, to take medication, to study or to head to bed? Sarah Marinos investigates.

During a 24-hour period our body’s natural cycles and rhythms mean there are certain times when it might be more efective to eat, sleep, exercise, concentrate, take  a break or go under the knife. Here, we’ve looked at what the research says about when you should be doing what.

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Daybreak

SEE THE LIGHT

Expose yourself to morning light because it’s good for your mood. “It also speeds up the body clock so it will be easier to get to sleep again at night,” says Dr Sean Cain from the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University. But avoid turning on lights in the middle of the night if you go to the bathroom as your body will think it’s daytime and this upsets sleep patterns.

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6am HAVE SEX

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To be precise, you should aim to make love at 5.48am – this is the time when a man’s testosterone level is high  and puts him in the mood. Women have higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin in their blood at night, but during the

early morning their testosterone levels are also rising and increase libido. Morning sunlight also boosts testosterone production, say UK researchers.

7.30am HAVE BREAKFAST

“You should have something within a couple of hours of waking. People who eat breakfast are a healthier weight and have better nutritional intake across the day,”  says Tania Ferraretto from the Dietitians Association of Australia.

Your body fasts overnight and breakfast boosts blood sugar to get the brain and muscles working.

8am SEND AN IMPORTANT EMAIL

If you have a pressing email to send and want a swift response, send it between 8am and 10am, say researchers. Emails are more likely to be opened and to generate  a response in the morning. Between 3pm and 4pm is also a good time, according to  a US study of 21 million email messages If you have a pressing email to send and want a swift response, send it between  8am and 10am, say researchers. Emails are more likely to be opened and to generate  a response in the morning. Between 3pm and 4pm is also a good time, according to  a US study of 21 million email messages.

9am HAVE AN OPERATION

Patients operated on late in the afternoon are more likely to experience problems  such as nausea, vomiting  and wound infection. Most problems occurred in operations started between 3pm and 4pm – the safest time was around 9am. Our body clock hits a low point during late afternoon and this could make theatre staf less alert, suggest US researchers.

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10am TAKE A QUICK BREAK

If you’re at work, you need a 17-minute break every 52 minutes to be productive. A study by a social net working business found the most efficient employees took breaks at these intervals to reboot psychological energy. “All efforts to control behaviour, to perform and to focus draw on that pool of psychological energy. Once that energy source is depleted, we become less effective at everything we do,” says organisational behaviour expert Associate Professor John
Trougakos.

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12.30pm EAT AN ENERGY PACKED LUNCH

Have lunch about five hours after breakfast. “Include  wholegrain carbohydrates for energy – such as wholegrain bread or salads with quinoa – and to keep up blood sugar levels,” says Ferraretto. We also need some lean protein, like tuna or chicken, to keep us full for longer.

2pm MAKE A DIFFICULT DECISION

We make better, more reasoned decisions on a full stomach, so leave important decision-making until after lunch. A study of Israeli judges found they became more arbitrary in their decision-making the closer cases got to lunch and dinnertime. Researchers say probably a combination of tiredness, hunger and dropping glucose levels were to blame.

3pm TAKE ASTHMA MEDICATION

Our body clock aff ects how well some medications work, including oral steroids or asthma inhalers. Asthma symptoms peak at about 4am, says US researcher Dr Richard Martin, and preventive medicines need to be taken at least 12 hours before symptoms occur.

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4pm HAVE YOUR LAST COFFE

Cafeine is a stimulant so now is the time for a last cofee if you need a wake-up boost. If you have cofee any later it will be hard to get to sleep. “After 4pm try a herbaltea instead,” says Ferraretto.

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5pm EXERCISE AND BREATHE

Whether you walk, swim or lift weights, lung function is best later in the day – peaking between 4pm and 5pm, making it easier to breathe when you work out. “As a result, exercising or engaging in other physical activities in the late afternoon may help us to achieve optimal performance,” says US researcher Dr Boris Medarov. Blood glucose levels also drop to a healthier level when we exercise later.

6pm BRAINSTROM

We’re more creative and better at problem-solving later in the day – if we’re a natural early bird. In a study, night owls and early risers were given problem-solving tasks and the early risers tackled them with more success and were better at thinking outside the square when they started to get tired. This is the time when our brain’s inhibitory processes or brakes are at their weakest, so our thoughts can be freer.

carrot

6.30pm HAVE DINNER

Eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime to avoid relux and indigestion. “Most food will be processed in that three hours,” says Ferraretto. “To  avoid raiding the snacks later, have a dinner plate that is half vegetables or salad, a quarter lean protein and a quarter carbohydrates.”

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8pm DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Our brains functions well between 8pm and 10pm when our body clock sends our brain a wake-up signal.”That’s why a lot of people get that second wind at the end of the day because the res a signal from our internal clockto be alert;” says Dr Cain. “Get tasks done that require some thought, such as studying or organising a to-do list, but don’t do things that create anxiety because that affects your sleep.”

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8.15pm TALK TO YOUR PARTNER

If you need to discuss something serious with your loved one, this is the time to do it. A U K su rvey found men are more willing to listen to what their partner has to say around this time, after dinner, as they are feeling more relaxed and at ease. But avoid trying to chat during a football game – 92 per cent of men said they won’t talk while watching a game.

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8.30pm DIM THE LIGHTS

Dim the lights about two hours before you go to sleep to encourage the release of melatonin, a natural chemical and signal for sleep. Dimming the light Includes switching off the TV, mobile and iPad as they produce blue light that upsets our body clock. They also encourage what researchers calls ‘bedtime procrastination: People who lie in bed using an electronic tablet take 10 minutes longer to fa II asleep, their sleep quality is poorer and they’re less alert the next day.

9m HAVE A BATH

A warm bath or shower helps your body temperature rise and then drop and this drop induces sleepiness and reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. An evening bath or shower is also good for your skin. Our face produces most of the natural oils that can clog pores around 1 pm. So an evening shower helps to prevent pores clogging during the night.

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10pm TAKE ALLERGY MEDICATION

“Taking your allergy medication at night ensures that it will be circulating in your bloodstream when you most need it, early the next morning” says Dr Martin. Allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and watering eyes peak in the morning. “Try to associate taking your medication with something you always do at night, such as brushing your teeth,” says Dr Martin.

10.30pm WARM YOUR FEET

We need seven to nine hours’sleep a night but nearly one in five people sleeps less than six hours anight. Around 10,000 serious workplace injuries and more than 25,000 road crash incidents are due to poor alertness through sleepiness, says the Australian Sleep Health Foundation.

Warming up your feet may help you fall asleep faster. Swiss researchers found having cosy feet may send a signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep.

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