The worst time to fall in love is between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. (it’s a hormone thing), and the best time to ask for a raise is on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. These are the findings of Dr. Michael Breus, whose new book, The Power of When, is based on the premise that there are good and bad times to do everything in your life.
Dr. Breus, a clinical psychologist who is board certified in clinical sleep disorders and based out of Manhattan Beach, CA, got the idea from a patient. One day, a woman came to his clinic and told him that she didn’t have a hard time falling or staying asleep; her problem was that she slept at the wrong time. “Her sleep patterns reminded me of my kids’ sleep patterns,” says Dr. Breus. “Teenagers’ bodies want them to stay up late and sleep late, and that seemed to be the patient’s problem, too.” He applied all his tried-and-true insomniac techniques, but none of them worked. By this time, his patient was about to get fired from her job.
“I decided to try an experiment,” says Dr. Breus. “I called her boss to see if she could adjust her schedule to be at work two hours later and stay two hours longer.” Her boss agreed, they gave it a shot and it worked. “The woman was more attentive and more productive in meetings, and her family even liked her more. I thought, ‘OK, I really have to dig into this because who knows what other connections might be out there?’”
After studying circadian rhythms and chronotypes (your personal biological clock), Dr. Breus began to see patterns. He identified four core chronotypes that inform how people navigate their lives and assigned each one to a token animal. He describes himself as a “wolf” (a creative risk taker who is most productive late in the morning or late at night) and says he can now spot a “dolphin” (a cautious introvert who strives for perfection and has productive spurts throughout the day) in a matter of minutes.
Animal assignations aside, Dr. Breus drew from more than 200 clinical studies that show that when it comes to our health, timing really is everything. And some timing truths apply to all of us. For instance, if you need to go for surgery, schedule it in the morning – a study from Duke University Medical Center found that you face more side effects from the anaesthesia if you’re put under in the afternoon. Getting a vaccine? Again, morning is better. In 2014, scientists in Israel found that men were least sensitive to pain early in the day, so you may be less sensitive to a needle in the a.m. And consider timing a jog after the jab – researchers at Iowa State University found that cardio helps spread the vaccine throughout your body, so you produce more antibodies, boosting the protective powers of the medicine.
Dr. Breus says that when it comes to day-to-day activities, it’s often just a matter of being mindful of what works best for you. “I changed when I exercise,” he says. “I used to do it early in the morning because I thought that was the only time I could fit it in, but I learned that I perform better at night, so now I exercise in the evening.”
Timing things right takes planning, but even tweaking the little things can decrease stress, which means better health and wellness, says Dr. Susan MacDonald, a registered psychologist in Calgary. “And, like the saying goes, ‘There’s no time like the present.’ We just need to take a more proactive approach to our health and well-being.” Here’s how to time it right so you can do just that. >>>