Stress Management Management Techniques Time Management Synchronizing Your Biological Clock With a Schedule By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MSEd Facebook Twitter Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book." Learn about our editorial process Updated on January 17, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Your Biological Clock Health Effects Best Times for Activities How to Change It A Word From Verywell What if there was a way to get more out of each day? While we all have the same 24 hours, how we use that time impacts what we can accomplish. Recent research suggests that one way to pack more into your day is to sync your biological clock to your daily schedule. By doing certain things at peak periods of activity and energy, you might be able to improve your productivity. Your Biological Clock Your biological clock controls a great deal of how you function. This works much like a program, regulating the timing of many biological functions ranging from when you sleep to when you reproduce. Circadian rhythms manage daily cycles of sleeping and waking and contribute to your energy levels at various points during the day. You might become particularly aware of your body's biological clock at times when your daily schedule is thrown off-kilter. Shift workers, for example, must constantly adjust their daily ebb and flow to the demands of their work schedule. Travelers may experience disturbances in their sleep-wake cycles leading to feelings of jet lag. You've probably noticed that there are certain times during the day when you feel more energized. At other times, you might feel drained. Research has shown, however, that your body clock is responsible for far more than just your sleep-wake cycle. Mental alertness, hunger, stress, mood, heart function, and even immunity are also influenced by the body's daily rhythms. By synchronizing your biological clock with your daily schedule, you can make the most of your day and feel more accomplished and motivated. How It Affects Your Health Circadian rhythms affect your sleep-wake cycle, eating habits, body temperature, digestion, hormone levels, and other body functions. Because of this, your body's internal clock can play an important role in your overall health. Interruptions to your circadian rhythm may contribute to health conditions including diabetes, seasonal affective disorder, and sleep disorders. Fortunately, understanding how these cycles influence your health can help you address potential problems and seek treatments that can help. For example, you can make lifestyle changes that can help get your circadian rhythm back on track. Your doctor can also help you address conditions that might be affected by your body's natural rhythms and come up with treatments that involve both medication and lifestyle adjustments. The Best Time for Activities The reality is that the demands of daily life such as school, commuting, work, and social events can all throw the body's natural cycles out of whack. The way we organize our daily activities is sometimes in direct contrast to our body's own inclinations. Altering your schedule might not always be easy, but there are clear benefits to doing so. In addition to making better use of your time, there are also potential health implications. Circadian rhythm disruptions have been linked to a range of negative health outcomes including depression and diabetes. When is the best time to tackle certain tasks? Sleeping Your biological clock plays a major role in controlling your daily sleeping and waking cycle. Factors such as your schedule, bedtime routines, and even age can play a role as well. The body's natural sleep cycle changes as we age. Knowing this might help you adapt your own schedule to best suit your sleep needs. Young children tend to be early risers, where teens are more inclined to sleep in.As people approach later adulthood, the sleep cycle continues to shift back toward rising earlier in the morning.Teens might be better served getting longer periods of rest before tackling their day, where older adults might prefer to get up earlier and go to bed earlier. Energy levels tend to dip in the early afternoon. This can be a great time to take a nap. Even if you are not able to take a quick power nap, a quick break from your work might be beneficial and improve task performance. How to Feel Less Tired During the Day Eating Could eating at the right time really be better for your health? Studies suggest that eating at certain times may have some health benefits. Eating at the right time might help control your weight. According to one study, when certain mice had their food restricted to particular times, they were protected from excessive weight gain and metabolic diseases.Surprisingly, research has found that when you eat can even play a role in resetting your biological clock. This research also suggests that if you are trying to adjust to a new schedule (such as if you are traveling or doing shift work), altering your eating schedule can also help you reset your body clock to better match your new daily schedule. Restricting your eating to a 12 to 15-hour window during the day can be helpful. Eating before bed can also have a negative impact on sleep, so its best to avoid eating late in the evening. At the very least, try timing your last meal so that it a minimum of three hours before you go to bed. Exercising Adjusting your exercise schedule to match your biological clock may also help you get the most out of your workouts. Research suggests that regular exercise can help regulate your circadian rhythm and help improve your daily sleep schedule. You might get the most out of workouts that take place in mid- to late afternoon. People tend to perform their best and are the least prone to injury between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.Try strength-training later in the day. Physical strength also tends to be at its highest point between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The evening might be the best time for yoga and other exercises that require flexibility. This is because this is when the body is at its most relaxed and least prone to injury. Thinking You may also want to adjust your schedule to make of most of your mental powers. You are probably at your sharpest in the morning. Studies suggest that cognitive abilities tend to peak during the late morning hours you might want to tackle those mentally taxing activities before lunch. Experts also suggest that alertness and attention levels taper off following meals. This is why you might find yourself struggling to concentrate on those post-lunch work meetings. Concentration levels tend to dip between noon and 4 p.m., which might explain why so many people feel like they need some type of energy-boosting pick-me-up during those hours. If you are working on some sort of creative task, you might want to wait until you are feeling a bit fatigued. In a study examining how the time of day influences problem solving, researchers had participants solve analytical problems during times when they were either at their mental peak or at non-optimal times of tiredness. The researchers found that people tend to do their best creative thinking when they are tired. Because the mind is more inclined to wander when we are tired, it seems that it can lead people to think in more novel and innovative ways. How to Change Your Circadian Rhythm Of course, not everyone's biological clock functions the same way. Some people tend to experience energy peaks earlier in the day, while others are more active during the later hours. Thanks to the demands of daily life, it may sometimes feel like your biological clock and schedule are at odds. So what can you do if your daily schedule is out of sync with your biological clock? Early risers, for example, may burn up their best energy in the early morning hours and feel burned out by the time evening rolls around. Night owls, on the other hand, might sleep through what might be the most productive times of the day and find themselves staying up at times when they tend to be low energy. Tips for Adjusting Here are some tips for establishing a more productive daily schedule:Establish a sleep schedule: Set an alarm and go to bed at the same time each night. Wake up when your alarm goes off—no hitting that snooze button over and over again.Give it some time: Getting used to a new schedule may take a while, but stick with it until it starts to feel more natural.Pay attention to your energy levels: Try to arrange certain activities around your peak energy levels. Not everyone is the same, so your own energy levels may follow a slightly different schedule. How Your Chronotype Affects Your Quality of Sleep A Word From Verywell Paying attention to how your energy levels shift throughout the day can give you a better idea of when you might be at your best. If you tend to feel more mentally alert in the mornings, try to schedule cognitively demanding activities during that time. Changing your daily schedule to better match your daily rhythms can take some time, but it can ultimately lead to greater productivity and improved motivation. 6 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Institute of Health. Circadian rhythms. Driskell JE, Mullen B. The efficacy of naps as a fatigue countermeasure: a meta-analytic integration. Hum Factors. 2005;47(2):360-77. doi:10.1518/0018720054679498 Chaix A, Lin T, Le HD, Chang MW, Panda S. Time-restricted feeding prevents obesity and metabolic syndrome in mice lacking a circadian clock. Cell Metab. 2019;29(2):303-319.e4. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2018.08.004 Wehrens SMT, Christou S, Isherwood C, et al. Meal timing regulates the human circadian system. Curr Biol. 2017;27(12):1768-1775.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.059 Kline CE. The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2014;8(6):375–379. doi:10.1177/1559827614544437 Wieth M, Zacks R. Time of day effects on problem solving: When the non-optimal is optimal. Thinking & Reasoning. 2011;17(4):387–401. doi:10.1080/13546783.2011.625663 Additional Reading Chaix, A, Lin, T, Le, HD, Chang, MW, & Panda, S. Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock. Cell Metabolism, 2019;29(2):303-319.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.08.004. Smolensky, M & Lamberg, L. The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. New York: Henry Holt and Company; 2015. By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book." 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