You’re likely aware that your energy and your mood shift throughout the day. Have you ever noticed you also have preferences for certain activities at certain times? You like to wake around the same time in the mornings. Exercise feels best at the same time, day after day. Your appetite follows a daily pattern, too, as do your desire for sex and physical intimacy.
The body’s bio rhythms regulate much of how we feel and what we do. The bio clock that keeps these rhythms in sync runs a little differently from one person to the next. These individual differences in “bio time” result in preferences for morning or evening activity, or something in between. (That’s why you like to rise with the sun and your partner hits the snooze button five times. Or vice-versa.) Along with individual drives for sleep, these bio-time driven preferences create what are known as chronotypes. In my clinical practice and research, I consider there to be four different chronotypes, each with distinct bio rhythms. To learn your chronotype, visit http://www.thepowerofwhenquiz.com/.
We give a lot of attention to social time—the external schedule of daily life—but not enough attention to bio time.
Paying attention to bio time can make a significant difference in treating mental and physical conditions. Whether it’s talk therapy, medication, or alternative treatments such as mindfulness meditation, using bio time can improve the effectiveness of therapeutic tools, helping people feel better, faster.
Happiness and satisfaction levels vary among chronotypes. Some chronotypes are more likely than others to experience mood swings, and are more vulnerable to mood disorders and to addiction, as well as to sleep problems (which can negatively affect mood). Evening types tend to feel less positive and hopeful about their lives and health than morning types, according to research.
You can use bio time to help you choose a therapist—and to determine the best time to schedule your appointment. I recommend people seek out therapists who share their basic bio rhythms. Pay attention to your energy and alertness as they fluctuate throughout the day, and look for a therapist whose preferences match your own. If you are an evening person, have your therapist be one as well.
When it comes to selecting the best time for an appointment, go with a window that aligns with your peak alertness. Our focus shifts throughout the day, with peaks and valleys in our ability process information clearly, and to use our analytical and strategic thinking skills.
There is compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that certain medications can be more effective when they are taken at specific times of day. The age-old “once a day” model for medication dosage does not make use of the power of bio time in supporting healing and alleviating symptoms. Talk with your physician about the best times to take your medication. (Do not change your medication routine without guidance from a doctor.)
Understanding your chronotype and becoming more in sync with bio time are powerful tools that can help you live a healthier, happier life, one that’s filled with greater satisfaction, meaning, and purpose.
Michael J. Breus, PhD, is a board-certified sleep specialist. His book, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype—and The Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More, explores how to use your body’s bio time to improve your health, happiness, productivity, and relationships.