Do you find you are more alert in the morning?

Approximately 70% of those who responded consider themselves morning people.

Although this may not come as a surprise, many people who consider themselves to be morning people now, remember the days when they would sleep until noon and stay up late studying or going out on the town.

A study led by Dr. Lynn Hasher, Baycrest senior scientist and professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Toronto, shows a difference in peak performance time in older adults compared to younger adults. Older adults tend to peak in the morning.

As we age, our circadian rhythm – or biological clock — begins to shift. Between childhood and adolescence it is natural for the daily cycle of activity to begin shifting toward the evening. At the peak, by age 19 or 20, most adolescents have become night owls, preferring to sleep late and pull all-nighters. They perform better at mental and physical tasks in the afternoons.

But by our mid-twenties we slowly begin to shift back to being morning people. This means that most older people are more alert in the morning and difficult tasks are best done at that time. As well, our ability to filter information in the afternoon becomes much harder.

Although our ability to acquire new information, think, reason and remember are all affected by this shift in body rhythm, there are some activities that can still be performed at a high level late in the day. For example, activities requiring well-established tasks and well-learned facts are not affected.

Some tips to help you get the most out of your day:

  • At work, schedule important meetings or presentations in the morning because that’s when you’re most alert.
  • Schedule doctors appointments in the morning when your abilities to comprehend new information and communicate are at their peak.
  • Have brain boosting food, high in complex carbohydrates, available at afternoon meetings or have a bite to eat just before the meeting.
  • Don’t go for long periods without eating.
  • Go for a walk. Exercise can boost your energy.
  • If possible, take a short power nap. Napping can increase alertness, improve motor performance, boost memory and enhance creativity.
  • If you’re feeling sluggish have a cup of coffee – although the boost in energy may only be temporary.

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