Throughout the day we experience fluctuating periods of increased alertness and sleepiness. For some individuals creativity and mental focus intensifies in the early morning, while others are more proficient in the evening. A person’s internal biological clock or circadian rhythm influences periods of wakefulness at various times of the day. Working against one’s internal biological clock can be challenging, particularly for employees who are most productive in the evening and hold daytime positions. Fortunately implementing a few strategies can yield positive results when seeking to increase morning productivity.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) comments further on the role of internal circadian rhythm and wakefulness:
The circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day, so adults' strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00-4:00 am and in the afternoon between 1:00-3:00 pm, although there is some variation depending on whether you are a “morning person” or “evening person.”
Having adequate sleep each night is a good starting point to increase daytime energy. Allow a period of adjustment as your body adapts to a new sleep schedule. Also, avoid long naps even if the previous evening you slept fewer hours than desired. Limiting hour-long naps contributes to better sleep and increased restfulness at night. As noted by the NSF, “The sleepiness we experience during these circadian dips will be less intense if we have had sufficient sleep, and more intense when we are sleep deprived.” Recommended sleep hours vary depending on the individual’s age, lifestyle, and health needs. In general, adults should get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Tips for Adjusting Your Biological Clock:
1. Get a good night's rest and limit hour-long naps during the day.
2. Adhere to an exercise routine.
3. Limit consumption of caffeinated foods and beverages in the later afternoon and during the evening.
4. Develop a sleep schedule that's suitable for your lifestyle and health needs.
5. Monitor times of the day when you are most alert and plan your workday accordingly. If possible, plan important work projects during times of the day when energy spikes. On the other hand, tedious tasks can be scheduled when feeling sluggish, as they tend to require little if any mental exertion.
6. Don’t run on empty. Be sure to have a healthy breakfast each morning before heading to work.
7. Incorporate a motivational boost. Mediation, spiritual practice, or preferred activity can be introduced to bring enjoyment to the start of your day.