How Our Body Clocks Affect Our Mental And Physical Performance

success

How Your Body Clocks Affect Our Mental And Physical Performance
Our study found that the performance of “night owls” and “morning larks” varied considerably on both cognitive and physical tasks. file404 / Shutterstock

Whether you’re a morning person or love burning the midnight oil, we’re all controlled by so-called “body clocks”. These body clocks (which regulate our circadian rhythms) are inside almost every cell in the body and control when we feel awake and tired during a 24-hour period. But as it turns out, our latest study found that our body clocks have a much bigger impact on us than we previously realised. In fact, our body clocks actually effect how well a person performs on both mental and physical tasks.

Our circadian rhythms are controlled by the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, which detects light. When cells in your eyes register that it’s dark outside, they send these signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It then releases the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel tired.

Your chronotype is another factor that determines how your biological clocks affect your daily behaviours. For example, early chronotypes (“morning larks”) rise early and are most active in the morning, but feel tired late in the afternoon or early evening. Late chronotypes (“night owls”) are tired during the morning, but feel awake in the evening.

These individuals differences may also be seen in multiple other physiological, behavioural and genetic rhythms that happen over a near 24-hour period. For example, chronotype determines the time melatonin is released. For morning larks, melatonin can rise around 6pm, making them feel tired by 9pm or 10pm. For night owls, melatonin can increase at 10pm/11pm or even later, meaning many aren’t tired until 2am or 3am.

Genetics can determine your body clock type, but it’s also largely influenced by schedule and lifestyle. It also changes over your lifetime. People tend to be larks during the first ten years of their life, then shift towards night owls during adolescence and their early twenties. By the time you’re 60, you’ll probably have similar sleeping patterns to when you were ten. However, even with these lifetime changes, the factors that determine your chronotype are unique to every individual.

Peak performance and the body clock

Our study recruited 56 healthy people and asked them to perform a series of cognitive tasks (to measure reaction time and their ability to plan and process information), and a physical task to measure their maximum grip strength. The tests were completed at three different times between 8am and 8pm to see how an person’s performance varied throughout the day. Our results showed peak performance differed significantly between larks and owls.

Larks performed best earlier in the day (8am in cognitive tasks and 2pm in physical tasks), and were 7% to 8% better than night owls at these times. Night owls performed best at 8pm in both cognitive and physical tasks. Grip strength was found to be significantly better during the evening for owls by 3.7% compared to larks.

Peak performance was also related to the number of hours it takes for you to perform your best after waking up. Larks performed their best in cognitive tasks immediately after waking up, and seven hours after waking up in the physical task. Night owls performed best in all tasks around 12 hours after waking up.

When it comes to elite performance, athletes are striving for minute gains where a winning margin can be narrow. For example, at the 2016 Olympics, if the last placed competitor in the men’s 100m sprint had run 0.25 seconds faster, he would’ve beaten Usain Bolt.

Our previous research found that being a morning lark or a night owl is a key contributor in the timing of peak individual and team athletic performance.

Our new study shows that compared to larks, night owls are significantly sleepier in the morning, making their reaction time slower by 8.4%. They’re also 7.4% weaker (using a maximum grip strength test) than their morning lark counterparts.

Night owls also seem to show a larger variation in peak performance throughout the day, suggesting they may be more sensitive to time-of-day changes than larks. For example, a night owl competing against a morning lark at 8am would be more impaired than a lark competing against a night owl at 8pm.

However, other things, like travelling, can also affect performance. Moving across time zones de-synchronises our body clocks, which need a chance to adjust. People that constantly change their sleeping patterns may experience “social jetlag”, which impairs performance too.

How Your Body Clocks Affect Our Mental And Physical PerformanceUnderstanding your body clock might help you determine your winning chances. Shahjehan / Shutterstock

Since athletic success depends on the smallest margins, understanding precisely what time peak performance is likely could mean the difference between winning a gold medal or finishing in last place. Our study found that overall, morning larks tended to perform better earlier in the day, and night owls performed better later in the evening.

Knowing just how much our body clock affects us could be useful even in our everyday life. It can help us understand more about how we can gain maximum productivity in business or the best academic performance in school.

The typical structure of our society greatly favours larks over owls. Since our typical working day doesn’t let night owls follow their preferred sleep and wake patterns, maybe it’s time we start thinking about being more flexible.The Conversation

About The Author

Elise Facer-Childs, Research fellow in sleep, circadian rhythms and neuroimaging, University of Birmingham

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

The Body Clock Guide: Using Traditional Chinese Medicine for Prevention and Healthcare

successAuthor: Zhang Jiaofei
Binding: Paperback
Studio: Shanghai Press
Label: Shanghai Press
Publisher: Shanghai Press
Manufacturer: Shanghai Press

Buy Now
Editorial Review: In China, the rhythms of time and nature are understood to affect the body and general health and wellbeing. Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the ebbs and flows of time into achieving and maintaining good health. The cycle of four seasons is a complete circulation and the same is true of the 24-hour day. Understanding this kind of "body clock" is what The Body Clock Guide is all about, regardless of whether or not you are a practitioner of TCM.

In ancient China, a day was divided into 12 two-hour periods. In each two-hour period there is a different channel or collateral with vital energy "on duty." This book uses descriptive illustrations and texts to clearly explain how to utilize the theories of collaterals and channels, including:
  • How to read signals from your body
  • Prompts for the schedule of daily life
  • Tips for choosing appropriate beverages and food
  • Simple ways of massaging acupuncture points

By establishing habits that conform to the rhythm of life, you will see notable and long-lasting effects. So start listening to Mother Nature and your own body and get on track towards achieving good health.




Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life: How to Harness the Power of Clock Genes to Lose Weight, Optimize Your Workout, and Finally Get a Good Night's Sleep

successAuthor: Suhas Kshirsagar
Binding: Kindle Edition
Format: Kindle eBook
Creator(s):
  • Deepak Chopra

Studio: Harper Wave
Label: Harper Wave
Publisher: Harper Wave
Manufacturer: Harper Wave

Buy Now
Editorial Review:

An eye-opening handbook from a leading Ayurvedic physician that blends cutting-edge science on "clock genes" with ancient eastern wisdom to help us understand how to harness the power of chronobiology to effortlessly lose weight, sleep better, exercise stronger, reduce stress, and boost our wellbeing.

"It’s not you, it’s your schedule." Does it sound like magic? It’s not. We’ve all heard of circadian rhythms—those biological processes that give us jet lag and make us night owls or early birds. But few of us know just how profoundly these diurnal patterns affect our overall health.

Bad habits like skipping meals, squeezing in workouts when it’s convenient, working late into the night to maximize productivity and then trying to "catch up" on sleep during the weekend disrupt our natural cycles. A growing body of research on chronobiology reveals just how sensitive the human body is to these rhythms all the way down to the genetic level. Our "clock genes" control more than we realize, and small changes can make the difference between battling our bodies, and effortlessly managing weight, sleep, stress, inflammation, and more.

Marrying ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with the latest scientific research, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar’s holistic step-by-step 30-day plan gives you the tools—and the schedule—you need to transform your life. With diagnostic quizzes to determine your specific mind-body type, you will learn to adapt you schedule for effortless wellness for life.





The Women's Health Body Clock Diet: The 6-Week Plan to Reboot Your Metabolism and Lose Weight Naturally

successAuthor: Editors of Women's Health
Binding: Hardcover
Features:
  • RODALE PRESS

Brand: RODALE PRESS
Studio: Rodale Books
Label: Rodale Books
Publisher: Rodale Books
Manufacturer: Rodale Books

Buy Now
Editorial Review: You’ve tried all the diets and lost a little but gained back a lot! What’s going wrong? Stop blaming yourself; it’s not your fault, says nutritionist Laura Cipullo, RD. In all likelihood, your natural body clock is out of whack, causing hormone disturbances that pack on fat especially in your belly, butt, thighs, and arms. Resetting your internal clock is the answer to working with your body, not against it.

The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet taps the latest scientific research on the interplay of chronobiology and hormones to help you adjust your body clock and other internal timekeepers for optimum health and fat-burning capacity. This three-phase plan will resynchronize a body wracked by dysfunctional eating, too much stress and stimulation, and disruptive sleep patterns. This book will provide you with:

• Three simple reset “buttons” that will rapidly shift your master body clock back into proper rhythm in less than 2 weeks
• A meal plan (one that says cookies are A-OK!) crafted by a registered dietitian and certified eating disorders specialist
• An hour-by-hour daily action plan to take advantage of your body’s natural hormone “bursts” to burn more calories, reduce sugar cravings, and optimize sleep to whittle your middle

Using simple tools to stamp out cravings and identify nonphysical hunger cues, you’ll establish a positive approach to healthy eating and weight loss that will keep you deliciously lean for life.




success
enafarzh-CNzh-TWtlfrdehiiditjamsptrues

follow InnerSelf on

google-plus-iconfacebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

follow InnerSelf on

google-plus-iconfacebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}