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Make the Most of Your Brain's Circadian Rhythm

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Making the Most of Your Brain's Circadian Rhythm Get4Net/PhotoSpin

Your circadian rhythm — that internal human clock that directs the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle — influences a lot more than when you go to bed and wake up.

We knew that the circadian cycle impacts our physiology, but researchers are just beginning to understand how the human clock impacts our brain function.

Some studies have demonstrated that individual differences in the time of day when we are most alert, called the circadian arousal, correlate with performance on a variety of cognitive tasks.

Our performance peaks at specific intervals of the day, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and published in Journal of Investigative Medicine.

For morning types, sometimes called doves, performance generally peaks in early morning hours, while evening types, sometimes called night owls, perform better in the afternoon or later in the day.

As a general rule, older adults, age 50 and up, tend to be doves, while younger adults show an opposite pattern.

When tested at various points throughout the day, both young and older adults show dramatic differences in memory performance. Younger people tend to improve as the day progresses, while older people generally exhibit a decline, according to the study.

Tapping into your brain’s peak performance is similar to tuning in to the ebb and flow of the ocean’s waves. As Adam Sinicki writes, “it’s important to familiarize yourself with the natural, organic flow of your creative abilities and step-back every now-and-then to rejuvenate.”

Here’s how:

7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

"The perfect moment for bonding with your spouse is right when you wake up," Ilia Karatsoreos, PhD, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University, told Prevention.com.

The reason? Levels of oxytocin — the so-called love hormone— are sky-high upon waking, making it the best time for intimacy of all kinds.

Your husband's circadian rhythm is nearly the same. British researchers found naturally high morning oxytocin levels in men gradually decreased as the day wore on.

9 a.m to 11 a.m.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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