Your 24-Hour Sleep Cycle Explained
Your body clock has a huge influence on daytime energy levels and how well you sleep at night. Being more aware of your body's natural rhythm enables you to pinpoint the time of day you're best at certain tasks, leading to a happier, healthier life.
6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
This is usually the ideal time to wake up. Your body stops producing melatonin, a signal that it’s time to get active and start the day. However, this a poor time to exercise since your blood pressure is often at its highest.
9 a.m. to Noon
Between these hours you are at your most alert. Your body is producing the highest amounts of cortisol, giving your brain a boost. Your short-term memory is at its peak and you are at your most productive.
Noon to 3 p.m.
This is when most of us eat our lunch. The subsequent increase in digestive activity can lead to a drop in alertness and the familiar urge for a daytime nap. Drinking alcohol at this time can make you especially drowsy.
3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Your body temperature naturally increases in the late afternoon and your heart, lungs and muscles are at their peak level of performance. This is the perfect time to get in your daily exercise.
9 p.m. to Midnight
Your core body temperature is beginning to fall and melatonin production increases, signaling to the body that it will soon be time to sleep. For most of us, this is the ideal time for bed. Interestingly, this may also be your most creative period of the day.
Midnight to 3 a.m.
Your brain is busy clearing out toxins and consolidating memories. Melatonin production is hitting its peak. If you are still awake, your attention levels will be extremely low.
3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Melatonin levels begin to fall and your core body temperature reaches its lowest level. By this time you have probably got all of your deep sleep since this tends to occur earlier in the night.
Adjusting your cycle
Although these stages of the sleep/wake cycle are typical, we are all different. If you're a 'morning person', you're likely to be at your most productive early in the day. If you're an 'evening person', you'll typically wake later and hit your most productive stage later in the day, too.