Get Down With Circadian Rhythms
With all due respect to Greenwich Village Time, work buzzers, agendas and time clocks – they really have little influence on how our bodies keep time. The secret, omnipresent timekeeper governing how we feel and when, is a physiological process called circadian rhythms, and it's on this watch we need to map out our activities.
Circadian rhythms, and there are over 100 of them, lay the grooves for 24 hour sets and regulate every function of our bodies. Heart rate, body temperature, energy levels, quantity and quality of sleep, pain tolerance and so forth, are connected by these overlapping and on going rhythms like a rave party.
The disc jockeys mixing these phat bass-lines is found in a minuscule section of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. It receives and processes internal and external clues such as light, dark, food and energy, and keeps body functions synchronized with these events in a synergistic manner. When we're synced with our environmental stimuli, we feel alive and ready for action. When our rhythms skip a beat, the repercussions can be profound and long-lasting. We can not sleep properly, our energy levels suck and we feel vulnerable.
24 Hour Circadian Cycles:
Here's the typical circadian play list and how you can keep it locked all day long.
5am – DJ Fahrenheit drops the body temperature to it's lowest point of the night, and as a result we sleep better.
6am – As your body temperature starts to rise, you wake and start your day proper. Rhythms that govern sleep stop and other rhythms, triggered by outside effects called "zeitgeber", initiate other cycles. Light and darkness are big ones. Blood pressure also increases in the morning (and maybe even your temperature when you realize it's only Tuesday). Also: Drivers are 20 times more likely to nod off at the steering wheel at this time, so avoid driving if at all possible.
8am – Cortisol levels are highest in the mornings and this is not necessarily a good thing. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex as a response to stress and increases blood pressure. Cortisol also wastes muscle tissue, so if you're keen on keeping your hard-earned muscle, 8am is a good time to reverse it's affect by downing a protein shake.
10am – Heart attacks are three times more likely around this hour than any other time of the day. This may be due to a) caffeine and other stimulants people use to wake and and get the motor running, b) the reliably sudden physical and mental activities from the dormant, ultra-relaxed state of sleep, and c) increases of cortisol in the blood.
12pm – Lunch is another zeitgeber that gives the brain hints as to whether active circadian rhythms are on the beat. Noon is typically when we are in the best mood of the day (provided you avoided the 10 am heat attack). Go hither and make friends and influence people.
1pm – Medical studies suggest meds are best administrated at this time. Something about the afternoon makes the potency and effect just that much better.
2pm – Hand / eye coordination peaks at 2 pm, giving you the manual dexterity to pwn villains and video games and surpass production standards at work.
4pm – Pain tolerance is highest at 4pmm, so schedule your next dentist appointment at this time. You can also squeeze out a few more reps at this golden hour. If you want to learn ways on how to increase your pain threshold, read "King of Pain".
5pm – When is the best time for a no-holds barred cage match you ask? Why, it's at 5pm, when your muscles are strongest and most pliable!
6pm – If supper-time makes you sing, it's because taste buds are at their keenest at the dinner hour.
8pm – Let's face it, abstaining from alcohol is best, but if you do drink, remember that alcohol tolerance is highest at this hour, and it would be easy to hurt yourself by consuming too much. Drink responsibly, if you must at all.
11pm – Sleep triggers a release of growth hormone and all the action happens within the first two hours. Capitalize on this important opportunity for recovery with a ZMA stack and 5mg of glutamine dissolved in water.
3am – Question for the women: Did you put on a skin moisturizer to capitalize on the skin-cell repairing that happens at this hour? You can avoid nasty pillow wrinkles by applying sunblock to your face before you go to bed.