🤯 Our circadian rhythm has the biggest impact on all aspects of our brain health and performance
Within every human (and possibly all living organisms on planet earth) there is the biological version of a clock, called the circadian rhythm. It is an intricate built-in mechanism in our cells that for millions of years we have relied upon to ensure the best use of daylight hours and promote rest in the darkness.
Our body clock determines our daily life experience: our energy levels; the quality of our sleep; peak concentration and focus times; levels of motivation; and, even our creativity.
Research has also demonstrated that living out-of-sync with your body clock can be detrimental to our health and performance. There are three core rhythms that form the foundations of our health – sleep, activity and nutrition. When they all work in harmony with our lives we are in perfect health, however if one gets thrown off then the others are also affected which leads to a negative spiral of poor health.
If your circadian rhythm is disrupted, or you are 'out-of-sync' with your body clock you may experience negative effects on focus, attention, motor skills and memory. It can also result in reduced efficiency and even accidents. As well as this, many disorders have been associated with or exacerbated by being out of sync with our body clock - anxiety, migraines, irritation, depression, Autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, PTSD and Alzheimer's Disease.
Living out-of-sync with our circadian rhythm is like experiencing perpetual jet lag.
Despite this compelling research, many of us are completely unaware of our body clock and in the demands of modern life, it is completely overlooked.
We are staying up later at night, artificially controlling our light and temperature levels and people in the U.K going out an hour less per day than they were 20 years ago. We eat late in the evenings too close to bedtime and eat as soon as we wake up, regardless of whether or not we are particularly hungry. We are disconnected from the natural daylight cycles and how our bodies and minds work best. We are setting ourselves up to fail.
Thankfully, whilst your body clock is endogenous (generated from within) it is capable of being consciously re-set to our external world. Meaning that by purposefully designing our environments, adjusting things like our light and temperature levels, structuring our day to align with times of peak performance and creating spaces that trigger us into our desired state of mind we can align ourselves to our circadian rhythm. Allowing us to better meet the demands of our lives, improve our overall health, achieve our goals and live more fulfilled lives.
The diagram above shows the structure of our body clock, highlighting optimal times of day to achieve our goals.
At Gltchs we will deep dive into all of this with the support and insight from some of the world's experts in each of these areas. For now, it's worth noting that your cognitive ability peaks mid-morning so try to arrange any challenging cognitive tasks around this time. Generally, we will be at our highest alertness roughly between 8am and 2pm, with our cognitive performance peaking at around 10am, making this the optimal time to ideate, innovate and problem-solve.
Research has shown that time of day can affect the variance in human performance on cognitive tasks by up to 20%!