How Circadian Rhythms Can Help Improve Productivity
Regardless of your field of expertise, if you are like most people you are likely concerned about your productivity levels at work. Although exciting, our modern living often comes with a packed agenda of both curricular and extra-curricular activities - to the point that you might sometimes feel like you are “playing catch” and struggling to stay on top of your daily schedule.
Beyond our greatest efforts, our energy levels do not always depend on factors under our control. Luckily, there is no shortage of tools you can employ to make the best out of your natural productivity flow. Gaining insight into the concept of circadian rhythms is a great place to start.
In this article, we are going to show you how to use circadian rhythms to your advantage in a way that maximizes both your downtime and productive potential.
Circadian Rhythm: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Because of our increasingly frantic lifestyle and our need to boost our productivity levels, a lot of research has been conducted on the subject of well-being and performance. The verdict is clear: circadian rhythms play a pivotal role in our health and capability to get things done.
By circadian rhythm, we refer to an internal cycle regulating a range of different physiological processes from body temperature, hormonal activity, digestion, and - of course - sleep.
Such activities are regulated in the hypothalamus. This area of the brain regulates hormonal flows over a 24-hour timeframe and is responsive to light and darkness cycles. When everything runs smoothly, an individual will wake up in the morning and feel increasingly tired as the day progresses until being ready for bed after it’s dark out.
Rather than being set in stone, though, circadian rhythms are fluctuating. Throughout their life, a person will go through several different phases and go to bed/wake up earlier or later depending on their age and individual circumstances.
The Circadian Rhythm’s Influence on Our Productivity
Along with dictating our sleep and wake times, the circadian rhythm is also responsible for our waking behavior.
Our internal clock will have a major impact on regulating the dips and peaks of energy we experience throughout the day, as well as our ability to focus, perform physical activities, memorize, and learning new skills.
Poor sleep is widely associated with low professional and academic performance. The circadian misalignments derived by insomnia, jetlag, or sleep deprivation can have dramatic consequences not only for our productivity, but also our overall health and wellbeing. So much so, hard data links sleep disorders to an increase risk of illnesses such as Alzheimer and cancer.
Leveraging Circadian Rhythms to Improve Productivity
We have already discussed how tuning into your own circadian rhythm and getting adequate sleep is paramount to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But how can it practically help us make the best out of our waking time?
There are a few tricks that can turn your circadian rhythm insight into an opportunity to get things done whilst also avoiding dangerous side effects such as stress and burnout.
In practical terms, learning or keeping track of your circadian patterns will help you gain insight into your moments of high alertness as well as those moments you are more likely to need rest.
In a healthy individual with little to no sleep debt (the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep over a 2-week window), we will generally observe an energy rise around noon and again in the late afternoon. Energy dips, on the other hand, will be more common in the early afternoon - especially after a meal.
In the high-paced and result-driven society of our times, though, very few people enjoy the benefits of an immaculate sleep schedule and the relative predictability of their circadian rhythms. This, in turn, calls for a more personalized approach to managing you own productivity levels.
How Paced Can Help You Make The Best of Your Daily Routine
Over the past decades, a lot of research has been put into circadian rhythms and how to best leverage them for productivity.
Professions requiring high alertness levels (think pilots or other hazardous machinery operators) have long enjoyed the benefits of technological tools allowing them to regulate and maximize their energy levels throughout a given day.
Today, the same technology is available to the general public.
Paced app relies on the three-process model of alertness to project your circadian productivity zones. Its highly-personalized approach allows you to simply insert your sleep data (when you naturally wake up, what time you feel sleepy in the evening, etc.) to accurately predict your productivity fluctuations on an average day. This information can later be employed to assign each task to the most suitable time of day. This way, yo will only carry out demanding tasks at the time you are ready for them.
Moreover, being aware of what time you will most likely need rest will give you the foresight necessary to schedule downtime or pleasurable activities for that timeframe. And since more and more information becomes available everyday on the benefits of leading a well-balanced and fulfilling life, Paced can help you make sure you don’t neglect other important aspects of your busy schedule - a.k.a. leisure and time with family and friends.
The Bottom Line
In our fast-paced and highly-demanding environment, your need for alertness and productivity is likely to remain on top of your priority list. Gaining insight into your natural internal clock as well as your natural peaks and dips in cognitive function can help you make the best out of your every and each day.