Modern life very often ends up with us fighting our own bodies – drugging them with caffeine and working them hard when they are most tired and then forcing them to sit for long periods while they want to be most active. You would be surprised how effectively mind and body will function and what you can get done if you let go of your assumptions about how to live let your body lead the way.
Like dogs and babies, adults need a routine. We just pretend we don’t and we have grown very good at the pretence! Our bodies try to maintain a regular routine even if we do not let them, becoming more wakeful and active as the light intensity increases and then subsiding back into regenerative and restorative rest as it grows darker, finally falling asleep finally as the temperature drops.
Working with our bodies rather than against them makes everything work better. We feel more active and focused if we work when our bodies are most awake, and we feel better rested if we allow our bodies to sleep when they most want to rest. Listen to how you feel – if tired, rest; if alert, study; if tense, exercise; if lonely, reach out to others.
Outside of a healthy scaffold of sleep, three balanced, regular meals (and healthy snacks if you feel you need them), sipping watery drinks frequently, getting active at least once a day, and ideally making time to stretch, relax or meditate, you can do what comes naturally. Some people like to rise with the dawn and go to bed after it goes dark, others find themselves more active later on and prefer a routine centred around starting their day around 9 am and staying up a little later. You can train yourself to wake earlier or later but so long as you sleep at night, there is no pressing need.
Some days will see you being hyper-productive, other days you will need to rest and recover, still others will be spent on life’s necessities but everything will be done in the end. You will probably achieve as much or more than you would if you pushed yourself to work when you were overtired and became stressed, only without the perceived pressure and the avoidable stress.