With the dog days of summer upon us, waking up can be rough. The National Institute of General Medical Science defines circadian rhythms as “physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” Circadian rhythms are controlled by biological clocks, with a “master clock” in the brain coordinating sleep-wake cycles. Generally speaking, people fall into three rhythm categories—larks, owls, or hummingbirds.
Larks, commonly referred to as “morning persons,” work best before noon. They’re the ones who suggest the 8:00am meeting on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Night Owls, on the other hand, save their best for the afternoon. Hummingbirds are somewhere in the middle, with a greater disposition to either larks or owls.
Regardless of your rhythm category, there are five habits you can implement to have a successful day. Please note: morning exercise is not included. Research indicates varying benefits to both morning and afternoon activity. And besides, the owls hate it! Without further ado, here are five habits to jumpstart your day.
A fruitful day starts the night before. Sleep needs will vary by person and life stage, but doctors recommend a daily dosage of 6 to 9 hours. Fight for your sleep. Parents of infants, this does not apply to you!
Drinking water in the morning rehydrates your body, flushes out toxins, and jumpstarts the digestive and lymphatic systems. In addition, proper hydration helps maintain normal bowel function and promotes healthy skin.
3. HEALTHY BREAKFAST
While the merits of breakfast being the most important meal are contested by researchers, its benefits are widely accepted. According to WebMD, healthy breakfasts provide:
- A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
- Improved concentration and performance in the classroom or boardroom
- More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
- Lower cholesterol levels
A well-rounded breakfast should include whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables, as per the Mayo Clinic.
Spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation are intended to connect people with God or a Higher Power. Nonetheless, several studies point to the health benefits of these practices. This Huffington Post article provides numerous examples, including research by Dr. Herbert Benson.
“[Dr. Benson] is a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/ body medicine discovered what he calls “the relaxation response,” which occurs during periods of prayer and meditation. At such times, the body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular.”
In short, a few minutes of prayer and meditation will quiet your mind and center your thoughts on the present.
Give yourself a plan of attack. As you scan your email, prioritize the day’s deliverables. Aim for the stars, but give yourself some wiggle room on hard deadlines.
Whether you’re a lark, owl, or hummingbird, you can set yourself up for success by resting, drinking water, eating a balanced meal, praying/meditating, and plotting the day’s goals. Why does this matter? Understanding your circadian rhythms can boost productivity. With the prevalence of alternative work schedules (AWS), Govies are in the driver seat of their schedules now more than ever.
Wander Cedeño is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.