Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What's Your Cycle for Maximum Productivity?

Are you a lark? A lark is a morning person who jumps out of bed ready to go. By 7 a.m., you're going strong and have made a good dent in your day. Come noon, you're hitting your stride, but by 4 p.m., you're wilting and by 9 p.m., you're in bed.

Maybe you're an owl--a night person who can't function before 10 a.m. You are going strong when the larks are fading fast and usually work late into the night before feeling sleepy and ready for bed.

No matter how sophisticated we have become technologically, we are still at the mercy of our bodies. Unlike computers, which can run 24 hours a day 7 days a week, we are subject to rising and falling cycles knows a circadian rhythms. If you have suffered from jet jag, your circadian rhythms are skewed, and your body struggles to align itself after moving to and from different time zones. 

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, "Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment." (

The most noticeable cycle is the sleep cycle, but hormones also follow cycles as do processes such as digestion. Where you are in a cycle determines how alert you are, how energetic you feel, and how much you can accomplish during that part of the cycle. For example, experiments  have shown that when people get half the amount of sleep they need, their performance suffers as if they were drunk. Light also affects cycles, both how much light you get and when you get it. Exposure to light energies us, which is why many people need to sleep in darkened rooms and need a good dose of sunlight to really wake up in the morning! 

Understanding your body's cycles can help you boost productivity by showing you how to schedule your time most effectively. The more you match your activities to your energy levels, the more you can accomplish. More on this in tomorrow's post.

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