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Improve Productivity with Your Body’s Circadian Rhythm



Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley

To improve your productivity, you should optimise your sleep and work with your natural energy clock known as the Circadian Rhythm!

Improve Productivity with the Circadian Rhythm

When most people talk about productivity, they talk about the speed of getting things done.

They might tell you they get minimal sleep, awake at 4.30am, go for a jog, eat healthy, have a protein shake, write lists for the day, start work from 6am… oh, I lost myself at 4.30am!

Here’s the thing – sleep is the biggest factor you need to look at if you want to improve your productivity and reach for the stars.

Pressure is the mind-killer!

We tend to put too much pressure on our output and sometimes overwork ourselves and our minds. This leads to low productivity and sometimes no productivity at all.

So many of us are walking around sleep-deprived that it’s no wonder we begin to feel the pressure when we’re not hitting abnormally high targets we’ve set for ourselves.

Let me tell you this – sleep is one of the most important and effective methods to improve productivity.

You need to hack your biological energy schedule

Say what? Forget lists for a moment, there is an energy rhythm to our waking hours that flows like a wave throughout the day.

This is known as the Circadian Rhythm or Circadian Circle, and it’s got nothing to do with the occult or aliens!

In fact, it is a natural process that regulates sleep patterns and is said to repeat itself once every 24 hours. This isn’t voodoo magic, man, this is solid scientific fact.

It means that our bodies respond to the societal and environmental circumstances we may be living in. It also means, we can use the Circadian Rhythm to our advantage!

A proper sleep routine is paramount to good productivity

For most people, our biological energy flows like this:

  • Low energy – morning.
  • High energy – late morning.
  • Low energy – early afternoon.
  • High energy – late afternoon.

Now we know how the generalised Circadian Rhythm works, we can begin to improve our productivity and get those creative juices flowing.

The question then becomes; how can we hack sleep to improve productivity? Here’s the truth – you can’t hack sleep!

But you CAN leverage your biological energy to improve productivity.

Tips to improve productivity by following your Circadian Rhythm

The good news is that you can use this biological energy to improve your sleep, waking hours, day energy levels, and your productivity.

When you wake up:

  • Open the curtains and get some light in.
  • Get fresh air if you can.
  • Drink one glass of water before breakfast.
  • Exercise before breakfast.
  • Eat only what you need.

Now you’re ready to hit the day ahead.

However, you need to work with the Circadian Rhythm, rather than against it!

Tips to improve productivity by following your Circadian Rhythm

Morning = low energy.

In the morning, when energy is lower, wake up and ease yourself into your work.

If you haven’t already, you can plan the day ahead and carry out small admin tasks like SEO metadata, word-count logging, plot planning, or social media interaction.

Late morning = high energy.

I tend to hit the high-energy phase between 9am and 10am. By that point, if I haven’t already started writing, then I hit it hard until lunchtime.

Use the late morning high-energy rush for work that requires high demands and a lot of focus. Things like creative writing, article creation, coding, complex problems, emotionally testing work or important activities.

Early afternoon = low energy.

Which tends to happen after lunch!

Use this time to respond to emails and carry out easier admin tasks like creating lists for the next day, planning the afternoon, or finishing up on a carry-over from the morning session.

Late afternoon = high energy.

The late afternoon can also run into the early evening and tends to only wane around the time you would eat your evening meal.

This is the last big peak of energy during the day, so your productivity might sky-rocket!

Use this time to finish one last article, publish content, wrap up a chapter or complete important work.

Then it’s time to wind down!

Use your sleep pattern to plan out a productivity routine.

Use your sleep pattern to plan out a productivity routine.

There is something known as sleep debt which should be avoided as much as possible, this is when you lose sleep gradually over a period of days, weeks, or even months.

Back in the old days, our parents used to recommend having a lay-in on a Sunday morning and there was good reason for it.

The more sleep debt you carry with you across a time-period, the bigger the struggle with productivity and motivation.

Here are some tips to help improve sleep:

  • Relax before bedtime.
  • Don’t work on your phone before sleep.
  • Use a dark theme on your phone after dinner.
  • Keep the bedroom cool.
  • Avoid caffeine six hours before sleep.
  • Avoid eating three hours before bed.
  • Limit light before sleep.
  • Get daily exercise.

Your sleep routine, like your biological clock, should include at least two hours of winding down and relaxing before sleep and another hour upon awaking to kickstart your energy.

Now hack that voodoo biological energy and see your productivity soar!

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Ben Oakley is a bestselling author, researcher, publisher, blogger, and mental health advocate from Camden, England. Usually found on Twitter or in the bars and parks of Camden. Agathokakological is his favourite word!