Watch Your Body Clock
Does it sound funny ? In fact, our biological clock works at a different pace from the one that is ticking on the wall. Once we learn more about our body, its needs and the way it functions, it becomes much easier to chart our rhythms, also helps us stay healthy and also improve our fitness levels...
There are times in our life when we want to simply keep on sleeping on our cosy beds instead of waking up and starting the day like you normally do? There is nothing wrong in it since it is our bio rhythms that work. According to scientists, almost every human function is affected by the light and dark of the day and night and is simultaneously governed by our internal clocks. Over a period of time, you become so organized that your life falls into a seven day pattern, and your natural rhythms react to this cycle too.
So, we see that every day and every week, our body clock rhythms are so regular that experts have been able to predict common details about our lives with amazing accuracy – details that we thought and believed were ours and ours alone ! We see that some people operate at their best early in the morning and others do so late at night. This hinges on the Circardian rhythm, which is nothing but patterns that your body goes through around the clock.
When we actually begin to look at it in a more detailed and statistical manner, this is what we can come up with...For starters let us take our daily clock !
4 a.m to 6 a.m – Our normal body temperature dips but then starts to rise again, so do endorphins ( the body’s pain killing and feel good chemicals) which increase our pain threshold. However, for those accustomed to waking up early and beginning their routine the body clock works differently.
7 a.m to 8 a.m – this according to many experts is the best and the most stimulating time of the day when you want to cuddle up with your partner, have sex if you desire and generally feel good. This is because your body produces a surge of sex hormones and a stimulating rush of adrenaline.
But for fitness freaks it is the best time to go for a brisk walk , jogging or working out in the gym or do yoga or any other kind of physical activity.
This is also the best time for breakfast since your sense of smell is most acute at this time and experts say that our nose is better equipped to track down food when we are most hungry, normally after a night long sleep. Apparently our hearing too is at its sharpest at this time and may dull as the day progresses.
9 am to Noon – Now that you have had a good morning and your stomach is full, your body temperature too has risen and you have had a energy boost and are mentally alert. Nine o’ clock is a good time for short meetings, briefings and any other preparations that are required for the day.
By mid morning you are best prepared to handle both creative and analytical tasks because Cortisol, a hormone that promotes mental alertness is now at its peak, having started to build up in your body almost 2 hours before you actually wake up ! what an amazing network of system our body has !
Our sight will also be sharper by this time since eyes need time to adjust and focus efficiently. When we sleep, fluid builds up in our corneas and the resultant swelling can cause blurred vision for a while after we wake up. That’s why for some people reading the newspaper first thing in the morning is such a problem. Brush your teeth, have a cup of hot tea or coffee and also read your paper and you find that your vision and faculties are much sharper ! This is how our body has clocked itself .
12 noon to 3 p.m – Normally after lunch and having worked through the morning, energy and temperature levels start to drop, so we see a slowdown in activities. I see my students at their most lethargic in the afternoons and it becomes very difficult to get their undivided attention on any subject after lunch break.
According to experts, the afternoon meal should be eaten earl before 1 p.m so that the food gets processed more efficiently. If possible, it is a good idea to have a quick nap , called power nap ( just 15 minutes to half an hour) to rejuvenate and recharge. But see that you sleep early in the afternoon or you will disrupt your sleeping habits.
Physical activity is extremely effective in preventing the worst of the afternoon dip that we face, so try and be active. Go for a brisk walk or plan to go out for some necessary shopping if you have no work. For office goers too this is a difficult time of the day, so make sure that you eat as sensibly as possible and concentrate on that work which needs your undivided attention. This is sure to keep you awake.
3 p.m to 6 p.m
According to health experts by mid afternoon our energy levels begin to pick up and our mental agility improves as the afternoon progresses and the work day draws to a close. I feel this also has to do with the fact that people are aware that they will be finishing their day at work and can go back home.
Physiologically, our lungs and muscles work well. There is also a release of adrenaline which means that our body is geared for exercise. Some experts even go to the extent of saying that doing exercise in the morning can cause slipped discs because the spinal cord swells at night and in sleeping position and needs some time to get back to normal position.
In addition , legs are at its best during the evening hours having regained all their faculties during the days activities. Also hand eye co ordination is at its peak. Probably that’s why sending students for tuitions in the evenings became a routine since memory retention too is supposed to be at its best during the late afternoon hours.
6 p.m to 9 p.m
As the evening progresses apparently the levels of endorphins and corticosteroids (our body’s natural anti- inflamatories) drop, and any pain from illness or injuries will probably be stronger now.
This is the best time to relax and recoup. Most people would like to have a bath , then a drink since liver can get rid of alcohol more quickly as the body starts to unwind slowly. You have dinner and generally relax during this time and unless there is some other stress related event most days in most households , this is the pattern that is normally followed. The entire family gets together, discuss their days events , watch some tv, have a drink or two and browse the net, have dinner, watch some more Tv and so on..of course the lady of the house her own routine of cleaning and catering to the needs of the her family.
9 p.m to midnight
Our short term memory is at its peak at about midnight because the body temperature is lowest (unless you are in a place that is steaming hot day and night ) and a cool mind does genuinely memorise more effectively. So students can cram away for the next day after nine until they feel sleepy, the best time to study and absorb.
Our body goes into hibernation when we are nearing the end of the day (or night) and begins to process more melatonin, the sleep hormone and our adrenaline levels fall. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing slows down. While we sleep, Lymphocytes which is popularly known as our immune system’s soldier cells, swell in ranks as bedtime approaches. Sleep deprived people have lower immunity and experience more illness.
Midnight to 6 a.m
Don't drive between three and five a.m since your body is at its lowest in performance. Nature has made this time totally for rest and relaxation so that you are ready to face the next day refreshed .
More babies are born between these hours than at any other time of the day. One explanation is that nocturnal births are a throwback to primitive times when childbirth was easier at night because the major predators were asleep.
Resetting the clock
So, now the question is can we rest our body clock? Yes we definitely can do so...Try to snooze half an hour earlier every night and wake up at the same time as usual for the first 2 days, then wake up 15 minutes earlier and finally half an hour earlier. Sleeping early is easier than waking up early and if you are determined to make a positive change in your routine you need to do it right. Soon your body will adjust to the new routine. However, try not to spoil the routine during weekends by sleeping too late or waking up too late because it becomes difficult to get your routine back into gear during the week.
To keep yourself healthy try not to change your rhythms and routine too dramatically. Any change should be gradual with enough forethought given to the outcome. Most of us are behavioral owls who can benefit from the simple remedy of a consistent wake up call.
The message is clear : The clock that we are born with is as resettable as the one we buy in shop. And that means there is hope yet ..
Mothers were right when they yell at their growing offspring to switch off the lights because it is a biological fact that they really need more sleep to keep them physically and mentally alert and active. During teenage years the clock sometimes becomes sluggish because of the hormonal changes that are taking place within the body and the tendency is to go to sleep late and wake up late. We see that most teens and twenty somethings hit the sack in the wee hours and still have to rise and shine and be ready for their classes at nine !! This is also what is called as delayed sleep syndrome..
It is also an interesting fact that when due to circumstances ( like sickness or extreme fatigue ) when people don't know what time it is, tend to sleep at least an hour later than their usual bedtime.
Staying in touch with our body is of course the whole key to keep up our rhythm and sleep pattern. Sometimes it so happens that your body and mind may be out of sync and the functioning might go wrong. So the best way is to optimize ones energies according to the body clock schedule and relax on a daily basis ( this also keeps stress at a bay).
Make a must do list and follow it up without fail each week and each day. Take care of yourself all the time, while driving,walking on the street or while shopping since things can easily go wrong and throw your life off gear.
Eat healthy meals especially breakfast , which is the most important meal of the day. Make sure that you also work and have enough physical activity to burn out all the excess calories that you consume .
Some of us are early sleepers and risers , while others only see the crack of dawn when they go to bed. If and when yu want to change your sleeping pattern carefully consider , whether your sleeping pattern is a matter of choice or design? If you choose o stay up late and are happy in that habit, it is hard to change into a morning person. According to researchers , everyone has a certain pattern for going to sleep earlier or later.
Last but not least, watch your stress levels, more so when you are involved in family get togethers or some events that may take a toll on you. Stress is a negative factor that can easily ruin and persons mental and physical health.
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