We have all heard the saying, “I’m not a morning person” which for many of us can translate into “Don’t talk to me until I have had my coffee.” While some people dread mornings, others do their best work before 10 am. Being in tune with body rhythms is important for everyone, especially children with special needs. We believe that children who have difficulty concentrating or learning could benefit from gaining awareness of their bodies’ natural patterns, as well as the peak times to perform certain tasks. This awareness could allow them do better at school, work, and extracurricular activities, while staying simultaneously healthy and active.
When it comes to organizing time, we humans are prone to listen more to the demands of the world around us, rather than to our own internal clocks. Matching the body’s peak time with when a task needs to be performed is challenging but potentially rewarding. Disorders such as depression, dementia, diabetes and obesity are to some degree affected by the body’s response to natural stimuli such as light. While everyone has a different natural rhythm and should follow physical and mental cues, there are specific times that have been proven to be the best when performing certain tasks.
Cognitive work – Best performed in the late morning. The body temperature begins to rise immediately prior to waking and continues to go up until about midday. Of course, for night owls late morning is later than it is for early birds. A warm morning shower speeds up the process. From noon until four, the ability to concentrate goes down.
Exercise – Muscle strength is greatest between 2pm and 6pm although the risk of injury is lowest starting an hour later at 3pm and continuing on until 6pm. Lung function peaks at 5pm and hand-eye coordination is strongest through the late afternoon.
Eating – Surprisingly eating has little effect on body rhythms, other than reducing alertness immediately after a meal. Circadian rhythms, however, do influence how food affects us. To reduce weight gain, concentrate food consumption to the most active part of the day. Eating during the part of day when activity is highest leads to lower levels of body fat, cholesterol and blood sugar.
© 2012 James Stanfield Company. All Rights Reserved.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.