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Ways your internal body clock will surprise you

Functions of the human body are regulated by a natural internal body clock that affects alertness and sleepiness at certain times of the day. The biological clock, circadian rhythm, is controlled by the brain through a hormone, melatonin when the body is exposed to light or darkness, thus the natural rhythm tends to coincide with daytime and night-time cycle. Paying attention to the body clock, as Evelyn Makena outlines, can help determine what time of the day to perform certain tasks optimally

1. Muscles strongest in the afternoon

Muscle strength is at its peak between 2pm and 6pm, thus is the best time for the muscles to create energy, boost flexibility, allow for better performance and reduces risk of injury.

One is likely to reap optimal results from physical activities such as exercises if they are scheduled in the early afternoon and late evening. That body rhythm is consistent no matter what you eat or the duration of your sleep.

2. Blood pressure peaks at noon

Usually, the blood pressure is lower during sleep. It then starts to rise few hours before waking up. After waking up blood vessels dilate to allow for more blood flow. The body also produces hormones, such as adrenaline to give a boost of energy, but also ends up raising the blood pressure.

It keeps rising and peaks in the middle of the afternoon. In the late afternoon and evening it begins to drop. The slumping blood pressure in the late afternoon and evening is another factor that makes physical activity during that time more ideal.

3. Cognitive abilities best in the morning

The best time to apply logical reasoning, analytical capacities and alertness is in the morning. Cortisol, the stress hormone spikes up within half-an-hour of waking up making the body alert. Being alert means that one is not likely to get easily distracted, thus can complete important tasks.

The capacity for logical reasoning rises between 8am and noon and declines thereafter. Our moods tend to brighten as the morning progresses.

4. Alertness slumps in the afternoon

The ability to focus and concentrate starts to wane off at noon, especially for people with jobs with higher cognitive demands.  To beat the slump, this time can be filled with easy tasks. Alternatively, take some time off work. Getting up and walking around can help jog the brain and improve concentration and creativity after the break.

5. Creativity highest later in the day

Problems that require creative thinking are surprisingly best solved in the evening when the mind is tired. You are more likely to succeed in doing tasks that require analytical or fresh ideas when you are tired.

Fatigue makes it difficult for the brain to filter out distractions and allows it to wander.  The freedom to think outside the box, due to lack of focus is good for innovation and generating new ideas.

6. Metabolism highest during hours of peak activity

In case you are wondering what is the best time to eat, the answer lies in paying attention to your body clock. To keep the body from piling extra kilogrammes, it’s best that food consumption is limited to the hours of peak activity.

Eating is best restricted within the few hours we are awake and active. That’s the time the body requires more energy, thus will speedily convert the food into fuel.

7. Lung performance best in the afternoon

Knowing when the lungs are at their peak performance can help determine the best time to engage in certain activities. Lung performance is at its best in the late afternoon.

Exercising and engaging in other physical activities can achieve better results. Rhythms of the lung function can help determine when to administer asthma medication and when to schedule medical procedures.

8. Sleep drive at its peak past midnight and in the afternoon

The struggle to stay awake in the afternoon is not an indicator of laziness, but a natural phenomenon. Adults’ sleep drive is strongest between 2am and 4pm and in the afternoon between 1pm and 3pm.

The sleepiness experienced in these times of day tends to be more intense if one is sleep-deprived. During adolescence, circadian rhythm changes causing sleep delays. That explains why teenagers stay awake late at night and wake up later in the morning.

9. Body temperature dips in the late afternoon

Naturally, temperatures drop between 2pm and 4pm. A drop in temperature is partly the reason why sleepiness peaks at this time since fluctuation triggers production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Slump in body temperature in the afternoon combined with other factors like muscle strength, low blood pressure are attributed to better performance in physical activities in the late afternoon and evening. Notably, many world athletic and cycling records are broken in the afternoon or evening.

10. Bowel movement suppressed at night

It’s common for one to wake up in the middle of the night to pee, but not to poop. This is because the circadian rhythm influences colon contractions in the gut that are responsible for expelling waste from the body.

As for the bladder, it can only hold a certain amount of urine. In the absence of medical conditions or drinking excess water one can sleep for six to eight hours without the urge to use the bathroom.