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The brain is not a perfect machine that always work the same. And the physical responses to the day’s events are not consistent at all times.
Intuitively, you are likely to experience a decrease in concentration after eating. But neurological responses fluctuate much more than numbness after lunch.
How to identify the signs that the brain undergoes changes while you work?
And if you knew when is your best performance moment, would you plan your day differently?
By paying attention to neurological differences, can you make your brain a better worker?
Schedule stress in the morning
The evidence suggests that if your performance is not the best in the morning, it is better not to try to force it.
Despite the advice of famous business leaders and celebrities with extreme physical training routines, changing your sleep pattern does not necessarily produce a better performance if it is not part of your natural rhythm.
However, the morning is still a very important part of the day.
A study done on Japanese workers showed that the brain responds better to stressful events during the morning.
The employees were exposed to two stressful tasks during the working day: one to two hours of waking up (the first of the work day) and another one to 10 hours (before leaving the office).
The study revealed that workers’ cortisol levels were significantly high after the early test, but not after the last.
“Cortisol plays an important role in protecting our body,” says Yujiro Yamanaka, a professor at Hokkaido University in Japan. “Cortisol is the main hormone involved in the fight or flight reaction (or acute stress response),” a physiological reaction to the perception of damage, attack or threat.
Without the release of cortisol, important parts of the fight or flight reaction do not occur. Cortisol regulates blood pressure and also increases blood sugar levels. This guarantees that when you are stressed, do not panic and have your mind and energy ready to do something about it.
The hormone also restores balance after a stressful event, which means you can stabilize yourself better after a morning of stress. If the moment of stress occurred at night, it could reverberate in your mind.
Repeated stressful events at the end of the day can also lead to long-term health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as depression, Yamanaka warns.
Find your best moment
Cortisol levels may be higher in the morning to help us cope better with early tasks.
“Not all people are more effective in the morning,” says Cristina Escribano Barreno, a psychologist at the Complutense University of Madrid.
“Sayings like ‘God helps him get up early’ bring to light that our working life is oriented towards tomorrow, so people who prefer tomorrow have an advantage.”
Being a person in the morning or at night is influenced by many things: age, sex, social and environmental factors. Our bodies prepare us for the stress of the day shortly after waking up, so as long as you have this chemical advantage, it is better to make the most of it.
However, for some tasks, our bodies take a while to get in shape. Performance on simple tasks such as mental arithmetic correlates with the core temperature of the body: the higher the temperature, the better the performance.
Usually, our bodies are warmer in the early hours of the night, so it is better to leave simple mental tasks until then. This daily rhythm is controlled by our circadian clock, which means that our preference for getting up early or late has little effect.
“In the morning people, (the increase in body temperature) appears a little earlier and in the evening people appear a little later,” says Konrad Jankowski, a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, Poland. “But, in general, this time difference is not surprising: a maximum of a few hours.”
Higher body temperatures caused by normal daily changes increase metabolic activity in the cerebral cortex. This accelerates cognitive processes.
“Artificial increases in body temperature can also boost performance, but only up to levels slightly above 37 degrees Celsius.A boiling brain would not work well,” says Jankowski
Drowsiness, alertness, short-term memory and even performance during exercise are related to the rhythm of body temperature, says Jankowski. But that does not necessarily mean that the temperature directly affects all these processes.
“It is rather the circadian clock that affects the temperature and other functions, so that, depending on the temperature profile, you can predict the performance, for example, there is a greater risk of accidents when drowsiness and alertness decrease to first thing in the morning, when the body temperature is low. “
Respect your sleep cycle
For more complex tasks, however, the best time of day depends much more on whether you are a person in the morning or at night. The most important thing is to isolate yourself from distractions, and it’s best to do it in a way that suits your sleep cycle.
“People who need to perform very complex tasks that require avoiding distractions often choose times when the rest of the world is asleep,” adds Jankowski. “For the morning crowd, this would be very early in the morning before others are awake, for the late-night, this would be the time when others are already asleep.”
It is safe to say that stressful work situations, such as presentations or conflict management, should be prioritized at the beginning of your day, and then allow time to return to work. This allows time for later in the day to focus on more individual tasks that require focusing the mind, but allows a little flexibility depending on what type of person you are.
So the best way to prepare your brain for the workday can start from the comfort of your own bed.