The biological clock (circadian rhythm)

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The biological clock

Did you ever notice that at certain times you can exercise better than other times?
Didn’t you notice that at some times you can do more effort with less pain?
Didn’t you notice that at some times you can study better than at other times?
What’s that all about?
Are our abilities and skills affected by time?

the biological clock or the circadian rhythm

Yes our performance is affected by time but it’s not the time of your stopwatch or your alarm clock but it’s your internal time. your biological clock or the circadian rhythms can affect your performance in the different activities you perform.

Your body has got it own internal clocking system that it uses to control many of your activities. Some hormones are generated at night while others are generated at the morning and that’s why some activities can be done better at the morning while others can be done better at the night.

Examples of activities that are dependent on the biological clock or the circadian rhythm

The following are Examples of activities that are dependent on the biological clock or the circadian rhythm:

  • Sleeping During the night melatonin hormone is produced which helps in making you fall a sleep. Trying to sleep at the morning will be much harder than at night even if you were awake the whole day
  • Eating: Your stomach digests food better at the morning and that's why overeating before going to sleep can make you gain weight
  • Exercising: you can exercise in the morning better than in the night
  • Energy: You become more energetic in the morning than in the night

Don't go against your biological clock

The best performance can be achieved when your internal biological clock is in harmony with the external activity.

Going in the opposite direction of your biological clock (for example waking up at the night and sleeping at the morning) can make your life very hard. You won’t just suffer at night but you won’t sleep well at the morning too.

What controls the biological clock or the circadian rhythm

So what controls the internal biological clock?
Its sunlight! Sunlight makes you feel energetic and wanting to work.

On the other side staying in the dark all the time will do the opposite of this. The good point is that you can use this information to your side. You can use artificial light to control your internal biological clock and so control your performance in many activates.

How to use the biological clock on your side

Think of your biological clock as a normal clock that ticks at a certain rate. This rate can either be made faster or slower. By staying in the light you are making your clock's rate slower and so increasing the time available until the end of the cycle and vice versa.

Here are few examples that will help you make use of your biological clock:

  • If you wanted to stay awake to work in the night then make sure that you have a strong light emitting source in your room. You can use a light box which is a device used to imitate sunlight’s rays. Staying in the light will let your biological clock tick slower and as a result you wont feel that you want to sleep early.
  • If you wanted to sleep early one day then make sure that you don’t get much sunlight at the morning.

So the key to better performance is finding the best time to do an activity. This will make the activity much easier and more joyful.

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