27 March 2012

You and Your Body Clock


First of all, be forewarned not to take anything you read from this point onwards as gospel truth. This is a summation of one of the numerous and excellent BBC documentaries that one can view in HD at that on YouTube. The subject here is that of the body clock. Suffice it to say that it helped me to understand so many things that I previously did not do so and not a few of the items that I discovered surprised me.

Here are some interesting bits of information about the body clock:
  1. The body clock is actually a physical mechanism somewhere inside the brain which is influenced by light. Hence, for older people whose eye lenses have become thicker, sleep becomes elusive at night. It is suspected that the thickening of the lenses which block out light also confuses the body clock in older people. Experiments increasing artificial light in nursing homes have actually resulted in improved sleep for the elderly inhabitants.

  2. The body clocks of teenagers rather tend to be mixed up. Hence, it is typical for teenagers to be difficult to rouse from bed and for them to be lethargic in school in the morning. A study conducted on student performance seemed to suggest that students tended to perform better almost 10% better in examinations if these were given in the afternoon. The study, though, was conducted in a temperate country. I’m not sure if the natural lethargy brought on by tropical heat would have yielded the same results.

  3. One headmaster went so far as to propose that school schedules be altered to suit teenagers’ body clocks. Oh wouldn’t the young rascals just love that! The dilemma, of course, is that revising the schedules would run against those of companies and industries that the schools are preparing the students for.

  4. Blood pressure tends to rise in the first three hours after a person gets up. This is, needless to say, influenced by the natural body metabolism as dictated by the body clock. What this seems to imply is that rigorous physical exertions may be better deferred for later in the day, particularly for those with blood pressure related ailments.

  5. The body clock also seems to dictate that people get some sleep at midday; and so the drowsiness may not be all due to the intake of food at lunchtime only. For those who are driving, drinking coffee is recommended; but that time must be allowed for the caffeine to kick in before actually getting back into the vehicle. For those in school or at work, a short ‘power nap’ satisfies the body clock and is better for productivity later in the day.

  6. Athletic performance seems to be optimal late in the afternoon or in the early evening. This probably explains why I never liked morning football. Granted, I was never a morning person, anyway. At any rate, this hypothesis stemmed from the study of athletes in individual sports rather than team sports such as football. It was really probably always down to my not being a morning person.

  7. This next bit is probably well-known, anyway. Because the body clock prepares the body for sleep between 6 and 8 in the evening by slowing down metabolism, it is suggested that dinner should be the lightest meal of all. Not that this is at all the norm. In many other countries, the pace of life has dictated that breakfast be caught on the run; light lunch eaten in school or the workplace; and, therefore, that dinner has become the heaviest meal of the day.

  8. The intake of alcohol to help yourself get some sleep is best done when the body clock is ready to put your body to sleep, anyway. The alcohol, in other words, helps the body clock impose the sleep process. It goes without saying that the intake of alcohol at that time when the body clock is getting the body ready for shuteye is not so wise if one still has activity to do such as driving. The police will know all about this.

  9. In Britain, sex between couples is most frequent between 11pm and 1am. It is not claimed that the body clock has anything to do about this. Rather, it may just be a matter of convenience after all the housework has been performed and all the children are fast asleep. What is recommended is that you find out for yourself what your best time is. ☺

  10. Around 3 o’clock in the morning is when your body metabolism is at your lowest ebb. It goes without saying that at around this time, everyone ought to be snoring in bed. For those not used to working night shifts, the lack of sleep at a time when sleeping is required by the body may be particularly stressful and, therefore, makes them more susceptible to ailments. It goes without saying that the body clock, in time, makes its own adjustments.








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