Some people, without apparent effort, wake up early, with the chickens and in the best mood in the world. Others sleep late and only get out of bed, perhaps, around noon – before that they are a danger to anyone nearby.
Were the first workers hardworking and the second lazy?
None of that. The sleep cycle varies between human beings, and what defines the best time to wake up or sleep is each person’s biological clock – a characteristic as individual as height or the size of their feet.
According to Russell Foster, professor at the University of Oxford and expert on the subject, knowing your own biological clock helps you plan an ideal routine, with maximum performance potential and minimum damage to the body and mind.
It’s no surprise. In the book “The Cycle of Life” (ed. Objetiva), recently published in Brazil, Foster shows how the internal ticking indicates not only the best time to sleep and wake up but also to eat, think, make decisions and do activities physical.
Ignoring the tendency of the biological clock can be quite harmful for the individual, and not just due to a drop in performance: sleeping less than the body would like results in serious problems for physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, infections, cancer and type 2 diabetes, for example. It also increases irritability, anxiety, frustration, the propensity for negative thoughts and mood fluctuations.
The sleep cycle changes naturally throughout life and, although it is possible to adapt it artificially, it is recommended to respect it as much as possible.
The first step towards this is to know your own chronotype, a kind of biological clock profile, using, for example, the following test, taken from Foster’s book (which, in turn, was based on a study by JA Horne and O . Ostberg).
WHAT IS THE PROFILE OF YOUR BIOLOGICAL WATCH? CLICK AND DISCOVER
According to Foster, chronotypes can be separated into three types, which result from an interaction between genetic changes, physiology, behavior and environment.
Thrushes, or morning birds, like to sleep and wake up early; nocturnals, or owls, are the opposite; and the intermediaries are in the middle of the way.
Discover your profile. As Foster writes: “The biological clock and sleep biology can be compared to shoe size: there is no one size fits all, and forcing everyone to wear the same size would not only be stupid but potentially harmful.”