Morning walk, early dinner and afternoon workouts

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Set yourself up for optimum success with these science-backed hacks to get the most out of every day. 

Right now, every cell in your body is humming along to the same rhythm. You can’t hear it, but this rhythm is telling both your body and brain what to do and when to do it. You may know it as your body clock — the internal mechanism that tells you when you feel sleepy or hungry — but it’s so much more than that. As well as regulating your sleep and eating patterns, your biological rhythm is also responsible for how well you perform in the office, gym and bedroom, which means structuring your day according to your body clock can set you up for daily success. Here’s how to do it…

MORNING

7AM: TAKE A WALK

Lay the foundation for a great day with a 30-minute morning stroll before breakfast. Your cortisol and growth-hormone levels are elevated shortly after you wake up, which makes it the ideal fat-burning time. As well as keeping you trim, Aussie researchers say a brisk morning walk can also lower your blood pressure, plus the dose of morning rays reduces melatonin production, which will help you feel more alert during the day. Not only that, exposure to morning light can also boost your ability to handle anxiety-provoking situations, not to mention helping you score a better snooze come nightfall.

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9.30AM: SIP ON COFFEE

Tend to down your morning brew as soon as you wake up? It’s worth waiting until 9.30am. Since your cortisol levels are naturally higher in the first few hours after waking, downing caffeine (a stimulant) can make you jittery and less focused.

On top of that, it can also make your body depend on coffee for its cortisol lift, which can lead to headaches and low mood when you can’t get your hands on some java. To maximise coffee’s benefits, sip it when your cortisol levels naturally begin to drop (around mid-morning) to feel alert instead of overloaded.

11AM: TAKE ON A HARD TASK

According to a study by software company Redbooth, work productivity peaks just before lunchtime. Once you get into the office, it’s likely you’ll spend time settling in and attending to emails, so it takes your brain a little while to warm up — literally. During the morning, your body temperature increases, and with it your working memory, concentration and focus. A study published in the journal Cognition also found that decisions made in the morning are more accurate than those made in the afternoon, so it’s best to tackle the hard stuff early on.

AFTERNOON

1.30PM: GET CREATIVE

While your focus is strongest in the morning, you’re more prone to distractions between 12pm and 4pm — but that doesn’t mean you should pack up and go home. A study published in the journal Thinking & Reasoning discovered that your brain does some of its best work when you’re mentally checked-out — possibly because it has the time and space to think of more creative solutions.

3PM: PLAN A MEETING (OR SOME SEX)

Make the most of your improved problem-solving skills and pencil in an afternoon meeting or brainstorming session. A survey by scheduling company When Is Good also found that people are more likely to accept a meeting request at this time. If you’re not at work, put sex on the agenda instead. According to hormone expert Alisa Vitti, sex is better at 3pm as women are more alert (thanks to an increase in cortisol) and men are more sensitive (due to a rise in oestrogen).

4PM: PUMP SOME IRON

An afternoon sweat sesh isn’t just great for clearing your mind — it’s also the ideal time to boost your strength. According to Finnish researchers, your muscles grow at a faster rate when you work out in the afternoon. But that’s not all — since you’ll have eaten during the day, your body will have more fuel to work with, and you’ll also be well and truly limbered up. A review published in Integrative Medicine Research also found that some people experience greater grip strength and power in the late afternoon and evening, so if you’re keen to score maximum workout gains, it may be worth holding off until after work.

EVENING

6.30PM: HAVE AN EARLY DINNER

Leaving a few hours between your last meal and bedtime won’t just set you up for a restful slumber, it can also slash your risk of certain cancers. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that while late-night meals can cause inflammation in the body, which may be linked to prostate and breast cancers, leaving at least two hours between food and sleep can decrease your risk of disease. So make dinner an early one.

8PM: LEARN SOMETHING

Trying to master a new skill? Do it just before bed. Researchers from the University of Notre Dame found that when people snooze shortly after a study session, they retain more information than people who don’t. “In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate,” explains study author Professor Jessica Payne. Apparently, your brain is more likely to store information if it’s followed by a period of sleep, which means evening classes are a win!

10PM: GO TO BED

If you want to lose weight and improve your sleep quality, 10pm is the perfect time to hit the sack. A UK survey revealed that people who nod off at 10.10pm each night enjoy better sleep and are less likely to crave sugar the day after — possibly because this time gives you 90 minutes of restorative non-REM sleep, which is best achieved before midnight.

Morning glory

Consider yourself a night owl? Here are three reasons you should consider changing that and start waking up with the sun

1. You could score a cheaper flight

A recent survey by travel app Skyscanner found that you can save big bucks on flights if you book your tickets at 5am.

2. Your doctor is more attentive

If you’ve got a pressing health concern, book an early morning appointment. Research shows that doctors are more alert and therefore more likely to order screening tests at the start of the day, when they’re not as affected by the decision fatigue that comes after a long day of seeing patients.

3. Your CV will be read by 10am

According to a US survey, job applications sent between 6am and 10am increase your chances of scoring an interview by five-fold.



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