Daily life is a complex and variable puzzle of time. The goal for most people, especially athletes, is to make a 50 piece puzzle out of a 24 piece puzzle. We want to get as much stuff into our day as we can and that requires sacrifices and adaptations to schedules. A lot of us are forced to work around jobs and other people’s lives. Eventually, you can get into a rhythm but this chosen rhythm might not be ideal for our biology. The quality of our work, or workout, begins to suffer. Is there a better way to live your life by optimizing your schedule so you produce quality output?
Do you know someone who works better at night and struggles to get going in the morning? I certainly can think of a couple people. Don’t be quick to judge them as being lazy. These people might just be biologically setup to be awake later. Every animal has a cycle, called the circadian rhythm. This rhythm dictates when the animal will be awake to hunt or work. In the case of humans, we were born to be awake and hunt during the day. That is no longer the case though. With the discovery of fire, the invention of the lightbulb, and easy access to computers and the internet; our bodies began to adapt. People are able to shift their circadian rhythm to better suit their lifestyle and work schedules. Think about night shift workers compared to day time workers. You can also just think about a typical weekend night life. Technology has provided us the opportunity to be awake whenever we want to be. Is this healthy or are we forcing something upon our bodies that isn’t natural? Chronobiology, the study of natural physiological rhythms, focuses on answering this question.
Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist, wrote a book called The Power of When which dives into circadian rhythm. Typically, we hear that there are two types of people, either night owls or early birds. Dr. Breus actually says there are double the categories we can apply to humans.
I am a lion and luckily I can tailor my workday for that schedule to fit. I realize I won’t have the motivation to work out in the morning. I still enjoy waking up, but prefer to knock out some more creative type work. I like to program workouts and write early in the morning. After work, my motivation might be lacking but after 10-20 minutes of warming up, and some dubstep or motivational videos, I am raring to go. My performance metrics are always higher in the afternoon which makes training easier and more fulfilling. When it comes down to it, the first step is get the work done. If you are beyond that stage, optimize your nutrition. Finally, if you have your nutrition optimized and you are putting in the work then finally look into your schedule.
Dr. Brues has created a quiz in which you can determine your animal type. Click here to take the short quiz.