Know your body clock

Our body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and a host of other biological activities are governed by the circadian rhythm, which means there is a good time (and a bad time) for a whole range of activities.

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Whether it's solving a crossword puzzle, working up a sweat or getting pregnant, get the most out of your day by working with your body's natural rhythm...

Best time to wake up
How much sleep we need varies from person to person and can change as we get older. If you're wondering when to set your alarm, one study suggests it's best to wake at 07.30 or later. According to researchers at the London's University of Westminster, those who rise before that time (even if it's only at 07.20) have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The study also found that those who wake before 07.30 tended to be angrier at night compared to late risers, regardless of how much sleep they had in total.

Best time to eat breakfast
We're forever being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is there a right and a wrong time to eat it? A good time to eat breakfast is 08.00, according to the experts, as that's when the brain experiences a surge of neuropeptide Y, the neurotransmitter responsible for making us want high-energy foods. Porridge is the perfect breakfast choice, according to one study in America, which found that children who tucked into porridge did better in reading and problem-solving tasks compared to those who did not.

Best time to do exercise
If you find it hard to function in the morning, do yourself a favour and get some exercise. Studies show that brain activity is triggered by light, so walking to work will help you get the most out of your day. People who exercise in the mornings report a 50 per cent boost in their mood, compared to only 20 per cent for those who do activity after dark. Take it easy though - your muscles won't be warmed up enough for the gym first thing in the morning, so opt for a walk or swim instead.

Best time to write a report
Studies show that the best time to tackle mentally challenging tasks is between 10.00 and noon, as that's when the brain functions best. According to one study from the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, intellectual tasks are performed almost 10 per cent better at 10.30am than in the evening - so do that cross word puzzle or write that work report before lunch for best results.

Best time to revise
Although most of us are better at doing intellectual activities in the morning, when the short term memory is working at its peak, retention-based tasks are best done later in the day. Research shows that our long-term memory functions best in the afternoon - making 16.00 the ideal time to revise for an exam, learn a script, or update your to-do list.

Best time to work out
Studies in America reveal that the body's lung function performs at its optimum level between 16.00 and 17.00, which is also the time our physical strength is at its peak - making it the ideal time to hit the gym.

Best time to get pregnant
When it comes to the best time to have sex or get pregnant, you can take your pick depending on whether you're male or female. Research shows that for women, the libido tends to peak between 22.00 and 01.00, which is also when ovulation is most likely. However, men's libido peaks early in the morning, when levels of testosterone are at their highest.

Are you a morning or a night person? Leave a comment and let us know below...