How to Synchronize Your Body Clock

By Temma Ehenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
November 22, 2022
How to Synchronize Your Body Clock

Your day can be more effective if it's synchronized with your body clock. Try taking on creative tasks when you’re groggy. Night owls do best starting at 5 p.m.

If you’re lucky enough to have some flexibility, consider organizing your day around your body clock. You may feel happier and more productive and even help stave off problems related to sleep-deprivation, which include obesity and depression. People do vary — night owls take longer to reach their energy peak than early birds.

Clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael J. Breus, PhD, studies internal biological clocks called chronotypes. Take this quiz to learn yours. About half the population are “bears” who do best if they are in bed by 11 p.m., up by 7 a.m., and tackle their biggest challenges between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.


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Some 15 to 20 percent of the population thrives at night. These people tend to be creative types. Called “wolves” — or “night owls” — they struggle to get to the office at 9 a.m. and may need to set an alarm at least an hour before they must be up. Wolves flourish if they save serious work until after 2 p.m. and start peaking after 5 p.m. Tip: Commit to going to bed by midnight.

Breus recommends that we all hold off on coffee until 90 minutes after we wake up. That may seem like an eternity, but your cortisol levels are rising in the morning on their own and caffeine may make you antsy. Drink a big glass of water instead. Do some stretches as well.

Here are other tips to maximize your productivity and maintain good spirits.

First thing in the morning

Keep the shades up and get sunlight if you tend to peak late and want to push your schedule earlier. Ideally, if you’re also trying to lose weight, eat a big breakfast near a sunny window. Research backs up the old strategy of pushing your food consumption earlier in the day.

Tweeters might read their feed by 8 or 9 a.m., when the tweets are most likely to be cheerful, according to a study of millions of tweets sent over two years. The authors write, “Individuals awaken in a good mood that deteriorates as the day progresses — which is consistent with the effects of sleep and circadian rhythm.”

They found that people were happier on weekends, but the morning peak in cheeriness comes 2 hours later, probably because people sleep in.

Surprisingly, if you’re slow in the morning, this might be the time to do your creative work, when you’re still groggy and in free-associating mode.

Before noon 

Take a warm morning shower to gear up for analytical work, says biologist and body clock expert Steve Kay. The body naturally warms up as the day begins and brings you greater powers of concentration. Do spreadsheet type tasks before lunch, especially if you’re an early bird.


Unless you’re one of the nighttime chronotypes, you’ll begin slumping after lunch. Try napping rather than another cup of coffee if you’re fighting fatigue. You can find the perfect naptime for you by using the “power nap wheel” designed by sleep expert Sara Mednick.

Late afternoon 

Many people hit a low at 3 p.m. followed by another spurt until 6 p.m. If you can, fit your workout into this part of the day, when muscle strength and other aspects of fitness typically peak, according to Michael Smolensky, co-author of “The Body Clock Guide to Better Health.”

One large study found that your lungs are 17 percent more efficient between 4 and 5 p.m. than from noon to 1 p.m. Perhaps fire off your tweets before you go to the gym: People are most likely to click on tweets at this time, data shows.


Wolves will be peaking now, but if you’re getting a little drifty after dinner, you might pull out your pen and work on your novel. It’s also a good time to do yoga or stretching exercises: Joints and muscles are significantly more flexible in the evening.

People are more generous with their “likes” on Facebook after dinner. Later at night, people become more emotional, for better or worse, at least on social media.

Be sure, however, to stay away from electronic devices well before bedtime. Especially if you tend to have trouble falling asleep, maintain a relaxing bedtime routine, which might include a hot bath, moisturizer, or calming music.  

Simply thinking about what works best for you may lead to beneficial changes in your habits. How do you function when you have more choices, usually on vacations? Experiment a bit and you may find small changes in your usual schedule make a big difference. 


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November 22, 2022

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN