Listening to your body clock can help you be more alert, soak up new information faster, and generally be more productive, say sleep researchers who study chronobiology. And while most social institutions require uniformity, e.g. businesses and schools require mostly everyone to start and end the day at the same time, there is substantial variability across any population when it comes to productivity and time of day.
Chronobiologists have identified two general classes of sleepers: "type A" wakes up early in the morning, even on weekends, while "type B" accumulates "social jet lag" by conforming to society's clock at the expense of their biological clock. Type Bs find it necessary to sleep in during the weekend to restore their sleep reserves, which then become depleted during the following week...
When it comes to schools, researchers have found that young students tend to learn better in the afternoon. In experiments, students earned higher grades when their principle period of instruction occurred in the afternoons rather than in the morning. At the office, more flexible working hours could mean higher levels of productivity, if companies are willing to identify which of its workers are "type A" versus "type B" and adjust schedules accordingly.
In the pre-modern world, circadian rhythms were synched with the rising and setting of the sun, says sleep psychologist Shelby Harris. But modern life requires many to adjust their internal clocks to accommodate alternative sleeping habits. Here she explains how to adjust your circadian rhythm to the modern world:
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