Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to concentrate just after breakfast than it is, say, at your 2 p.m. staff meeting? Or that you breeze through your fitness class after work, but noontime gym sessions are a struggle? Blame it on your body clock. “We treat our bodies as machines, but we’re really clocks,” says Dr. Matthew Edlund, author of The Body Clock Advantage. Use this info about your body’s inner timing to get the most out of your day.
What: Eat a big meal
When: 9 a.m.
Why: “We digest food fastest in the morning, when we are effectively ‘starved’ as glycogen stores have been dragged down during the night,” Edlund says.
What: Tackle that work report
When: 10 a.m.
Why: Your mental energy and concentration are peaking now until 11 a.m., because that’s when your body’s core temperature is highest, Edlund says.
What: Take a nap
When: 1 p.m.
Why: A 10- to 30-minute post-lunch nap can improve your short-term memory. Can’t crash at work? “Simply listening to music for 30 seconds will put you in tune with your body’s natural rhythm,” Edlund says.
What: Do busywork
When: 2 p.m.
Why: Use the afternoon slump, when your mental stamina is lowest due to a dip in your body’s core temperature, to tackle those to-do list chores that don’t require much brainpower.
What: Work out
When: 5 p.m.
Why: “Current evidence suggests that peak muscular force, motor skills and power are highest in the early evening,” says Dr. Stephen S. Cheung, author of Advanced Environmental Exercise Physiology.
What: Have a heart-to-heart
When: 6 p.m.
Why: Dreading a phone call to tell your friend you can’t make the girls’ getaway weekend after all? Do it now, when your mood and alertness are best and the drama of your day is behind you, says Edlund.