Monday, March 16, 2009

Protect Your Heart and Sleep Better By Following Your Body Clock

I was astonished the other day to hear that you are six times more likely to have a heart attack between 8 and 10am than at any other time.

The reason is that at that time your blood pressure is at its highest, your veins and arteries are at their least flexible and your blood is at its thickest.

Because of these three factors it is a bad time to exercise or exert yourself as your blood pressure may rise even more whereas later in the day, between 4 and 6pm exercise can reduce it by as much as 10%.

Blimey, so I was right, meditation really is the best way to start the day :)

Each part of the body has a clock (which can be seen rhythmically pulsing!) and, as one would expect, light plays a big part in some functions.

Sleeping Better

As we age sleep patterns become more erratic and this has now been put down to lower levels of light being received due to thickening of the lens with age.

Extra and brighter lights inside, or more time spent outside, can immediately remedy this and who knows, maybe that's the reason that a good daily walk encourages sound sleep.

There's also an interesting way to regulate being a lark or an owl. If you want to be able to stay awake later you need to get all your light in the afternoon and wear sunglasses in the morning. Conversely if you want to start being able to get up earlier get as much light as possible in the morning and wear sunglasses in the afternoon. Not quite sure how practical that would be but is worth playing around with.

More Body Clock Highlights

Between 10am and midday you really are thinking at your best as nice amounts of cortisol are being released so it's a good idea to reserve this time for your best work.

At 2pm you are three times more likely to nod off than at 6pm so this is not a good time to be driving and if you are on a long journey be aware of this and take time out, have a coffee, or a quick nap around that time.

Two other points that were interesting were about the absorption of alcohol and food.

The same amount of alcohol consumed lunchtime will have almost double the effect as that drunk later in the day, so bear that in mind.

Also, our insulin decreases as the day wears on so a large meal eaten late in the day really isn't a good idea as the body struggles to metabolise it leaving the blood sugars higher than is optimum. Consistently high blood sugars are not good for the kidneys, eyes and nerves as diabetics know all to well. So a largish breakfast and lunch and a light dinner is healthiest.

A fascinating subject and interesting to see how a few small changes to your routine can protect your health and increase feelings of well being.


  1. Not much hope for me! I've always been wide awake at night; useless in the mornings.

    I am never hungry in the morning; always ravenous in the evenings.

  2. Me too!

    So I thought I'd try and get some more light in the morning now the weather's a bit nicer by taking my coffee break out in the sunshine and see if that changes anything.

    Will report back :)

  3. That's not a bad idea, except 1. I tend to drink coffee at my desk, and don't take a formal break, and 2. it's gray and rainy here today!

  4. Well I did say I'd have a go first and report back so before you try and make any changes to your routine let's see what happens to me :)

  5. But wouldn't those times change depending on one's sleeping-waking-cycle?

    I for one get up quite late in the morning and go to bed rather late. But I get fair amounts of light in the evening and light, as the PC monitor is in a way just a big flashlight :D.

    So wouldn't these times be rather relative to your sleep-wake-cycle than absolute?

  6. You'd think so but apparently not which accounts for problems with jet-lag and shift-workers.

    The light from a PC isn't full spectrum and it seems even just daylight, without strong sun, is what's required or one of those special lights SAD sufferers use.

  7. Interesting article... I always knew exerting yourself before 10am was a bad thing... just have to convince my work about that... ;-)

  8. I totally agree with you that meditation is the best way to start the day. This has been in my personal experience that meditation is much more better than early morning exercise and brisk walks

  9. Interesting I know why I'm so lazy to work on the afternoons and why I'm a light in the morning.
    I heard that doing excercise in the evening is not recommended for a good rest, so which is the best time to do it???


  10. I usually go to bad at 3 a.m. and wake up at 9 a.m. I guess such type of schedule is really crazy. However, I got used to it. Do you think that it is pretty dangerous for health?

  11. every body have different body clock. I agree with your opinion. get your best perform by knowing your body clock

  12. Wow! I must say the article is really interesting but the comments are just mind blowing. I really liked reading and knowing people's opinion on this topic. Good going!

  13. I have been trying to look for information that talks about the problem with sleeping.. This is really very importannt to me since i am not able to sleep well now a days.

  14. John, I've found going outside as much as I can to soak up the sun or just bright daylight definitely helps me sleep better, and it isn't the exercise, I drag myself out onto my balcony as often as I can and just sit and read, even huddled up against the cold recently.

    And make sure you sleep in total darkness, that really affects your melatonin levels which have a profound effect on the length and quality of sleep.


  15. Along with your mention of the importance of insulin, the hormones ghrelin, HGH, and leptin are important cyclical hormones involved in the sleep cycles as well. thanks.

  16. I always seem to be awake at night. It's 1.45am here and I'm reading up on sleeping! Lol. Very interesting post though, thanks.

  17. Daily exercise and weight control and sleeping factor,these related elements strongly influence your chances of staying healthy.Thanks for the recommendation.

  18. Well said that during morning period from 8 to 10 AM is better time for meditation and at evening people should exercise. I am doing the same thing for past 10 years and I never went to Doctor.