By Bunmi Sofola
TIMING, as the saying goes, is everything. And when it comes to the human body, this couldn’t be truer. Our ups and downs over a 24-hour period are ruled by our ‘circadian rhythms’—fluctuations in our hormones, body temperature and blood pressure, which govern both our mood and energy levels. Now, a growing body of scientific research is proving just how significant timing is to our daily emotions, needs and abilities. So, from the best time of day to have sex to the hour you’re most likely to die, here are the secret ways scientific findings reveal your body clock rules your life.
The best to have sex is…5.48am:-Male and female sex drives peak at different times of day, and there’s only a small window when both partners are truly in the mood. Men’s levels of the hormone testosterone surge during the night, when they are around 25 to 50 per cent higher than normal. This is because the pituitary gland, which governs its production, automatically switches on overnight. A woman, by contrast, has to fight high levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) in her blood.
But women, too, have testosterone in their bodies that boosts sexual desire. And a recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that sunlight boosts testosterone by stimulating the hypothalamus (the part of the brain responsible for hormones). So the rising sun gets both men and women in the mood. ‘Testosterone levels in men and women are highest in the morning, ’explains sex therapist Geraldine Myers. ‘The energy levels of both are highest, too. Mentally, they are less occupied with life’s demands, so it’s the perfect time.’
Experts pinpoint 5.48am—just enough time for a woman to warm up before her partner loses the urge—as the best time for sex. This is also when couples are most likely to reach orgasm, according to Italian research. Better set that alarm.
You’re most likely to have a heart attack at … 6.53 am:- On the other hand, you might not want to engage in anything too vigorous. For researchers at Harvard University have found that the morning— in particular the last phase of sleep—is the time you’re most in danger of a heart attack. Intense dreaming during the last half hour or so of sleep can cause your heart to consume large amounts of oxygen, as can the physical demands of waking and getting out of bed. The adrenal glands are also producing more adrenalin than normal in order to shock your body into waking up, and this can trigger ruptures in the coronary arteries.
The best time to weigh yourself is … 7.40 am:- It may come as no surprise that stepping on the scales first thing (after going to the loo, but before eating breakfast) gives the most accurate reading of your weight. But a study by Brown University in the U.S. found that 61 per cent of people who weighed themselves in the morning actually maintained their weight over a period of six months, while those who stepped on the scales less often—or later in the day—fluctuated massively. This is because it’s easiest to spot weight gain (or loss) first thing, when you know you haven’t put anything into your body.
You’re at your happiest at 8am…:- Though mornings are associated with stress, tiredness and rushing around, this is the time of day when we’re most upbeat. In an academic study that monitored Twitter over a two-year period, researchers at Cornell University in the U.S. found that people wrote the happiest messages at this time of day. ‘We saw the influence of something that’s biological or sleep-based,’ said Scott Golder, one of the study’s authors. ‘Regardless of the day of the week, the mood rhythm is the same.’
The worst time to drink coffee is … 9.17am:- Morning is the worst time of day to drink coffee, experts have found. While most of us reach for a caffeine boost to wake us up, a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine showed that it can, in fact, have the opposite effect. This is because, early in the day, our body is full of cortisol, a hormone that makes us feel alert and awake. So your body is ‘naturally caffeinated’—and doesn’t need that expensive latte after all. ‘By consuming caffeine when it is not needed, your body will build a faster tolerance to it, and the buzz you get will greatly diminish,’ explains neuro-scientist Steven Miller.
You look your best at … 10.06 am:- Though you may not feel it,10.06am is the time when women hit their beauty peak. With hair freshly washed and make-up newly applied, they feel their physical best in the morning, according to a study of 1,000 women by a group of leading skincare specialists in May. Contrast that with 4.05pm, when stress levels take their toll and they hit a beauty low.
You’re most likely to die at … 11.00am:- Scientists have discovered the time of day we are likely to die is written in our genes. Researchers looking at the sleeping patterns of 1,200, 65-year-olds found those with certain types of genes (called ‘AA’) were most likely to pass away at 1 lam. This is because these genes, which make you more likely to be an early riser, often trigger acute medical events such as heart attacks and strokes around this time. Clifford Saper of Harvard Medical School, which published the research in the Annals of Neurology in 2012, says: ‘Even death must obey the biological clock in each of us, and around 11 am is the average time.’
You need a nap at …12.37am:- While most of us are familiar with the post-lunch slump, our bodies actually start slipping far earlier. Your body temperature, which has been rising since dawn to get your body going, begins to drop around midday, and the brain’s pineal gland starts producing a small amount of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. One theory is that it dates from our ancestors, who lived in eastern Africa. Partially shutting the body down is thought to have helped them sleep through the fierce midday heat.
The best time to clean the house is…3.13pm:- Hand-Eye coordination is at a high at this time of day. making you a dab hand with that dust. Endorphins—the chemical messengers in the brain that reduce pain—also surge in the afternoon, minimising aches that may come from stooping over the Hoover. ‘This is when coordination is at its peak and mood levels are high,’ explains Michael Smolensky, author of The Body Clock Guide To Better Health. If you don’t fancy cleaning the house, now’s the time to get on top of those fiddly chores —such as sewing on name badges for next term—to make the most of your elevated hand-eye coordination.
You’re unlikely to impress at …4.41pm:- We are our least sociable between 4pm and 6pm—and least likely to impress. The theory is that a dip in our post-lunch energy levels causes our mood to drop, which decreases our overall thinking capacity. As a result, we run out of clever and interesting conversation. According to the Harvard Business School, you stand a lower chance of getting a job if you are interviewed between 4pm and 6pm. Researchers who analysed data from 9,000 applications found that when five candidates with similar qualifications were seen on the same day, the person seen last was rated the lowest.
You ‘ll most likely get pregnant at… 6.25pm:- If you ‘re wanting to conceive a baby, try straight after you get home from work. Tests at Italy’s University Of Modena found that a man’s sperm peaks in potency at this time. More than 75 per cent of the males studied produced greater concentrations of faster sperm in the early evening—around 35 per cent higher than other times of day.
You’re at your most creative at … 10.51pm:- Though your eyelids may be drooping, problems that need open-ended thinking are best left until late in the evening, scientists have discovered. A study of 400 students in the U.S. found that the more tired we are, the more our mind wanders and so the more creative we become. This is also the time of day for storing things in our long-term memories. Immediate recall is highest in the morning, but for longer retention, reading something at 10.51pm is best. ‘Memory depends on nucleic acids and these show circadian rhythms,’ explains Michael Smolensky. In other words, the chemicals our brains use to form memories are highest at night.
The best time to have baby is … 4.36am:- Worldwide, more babies are born between 3am and 5am than at any other time. It may not be the most convenient hour to dash to hospital, but it’s our body’s way of telling us that this is the safest and healthiest time to give birth. The reason is that the extremely relaxed state of our brains and muscles, as well as our lowered pain sensation—due to the high levels of melatonin in the body—makes it the best time for babies to arrive.