Know Your Body’s Rhythm

If you have to perform a mentally challenging task, do you prefer to take care of it in the early morning or early evening? Would you rather exercise in the a.m. or p.m.? Which meal do you enjoy the most—breakfast or dinner?

According to Lynne Lamberg, coauthor of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health, 10 percent of us are up-at-dawn, raring-to-go early birds, or “larks.” Larks’ favorite meal is breakfast. Another 20 percent are “owls,” who feel better and enjoy many activities, including exercising, later in the day. Owls prefer dinner. The rest of us do okay both early and late, with some more larkish and others more owlish.

Your biorhythm preference is determined by your genes, so don’t fight it, says Lamberg. Use it to help you work smarter and faster, and boost your mood in the process.

If you’re a morning person, try to do tasks that demand creative thinking and concentration early in the day. Save e-mail and phone calls for midafternoon, when engaging with others can help you sail through a postlunch dip. If you don’t get up to top speed until late in the day, relegate mundane tasks to mornings.

Be aware that if you’re an extreme lark, you may find night-shift work arduous. Anyone who works at night needs to focus on staying alert. Working rotating shifts may trigger chronic disruption of the body’s internal clocks, what some experts call “social jet lag.”

A growing body of scientific studies suggests that persistent social jet lag may harm health. In women, rotating shifts have been associated with a lowered ability to become pregnant and a higher risk of developing breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.

So, for optimal performance and health, get sufficient sleep. Most adults need seven to eight hours every day

 

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