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Why We Should Consider Our Circadian Rhythms Before Accepting the Next Job
The Great Resignation is upon us, and in the words of 70s country music singer Johnny Paycheck, Americans are telling their bosses, "Take this job and shove it. I ain't working here no more."
After working from home for the better part of a year and a half, workers see the light when it comes to their jobs. According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 4.4 million Americans called it quits in September, topping August's record of 4.27 million.
If you're one of the masses looking for greener grass in another pasture, what makes one job better than another? Everyone has a personal shopping list of perks they expect in a new position, like more vacation days, flexibility, and a work-life balance. But what about a job that fits your circadian rhythm?
Punching Our Personal Time Clock
Circadian rhythms are our inner biological time clocks. We punch in and out every day without realizing it. The trillions of cells that make up the human body work in harmony on a unique schedule. Every person's rhythm is different, but almost everyone's clock works on more than a 24-hour cycle.
The average human circadian cycle is around 24.5 hours per day. Wait a minute. A day is only 24 hours. How do we have more hours on our clocks than the standard day allows?
The answer is that unlike the clock on your phone, exposure to the sun resets our biological watches every morning. The unique thing about our rhythms is that each of us hits the reset button at a different time, as nature intended.
Larks and Owls
Parents and teachers may have labeled us lazy as teenagers when most of our rhythms leaned towards being night owls and late risers. What they failed to realize as we zombie-walked through those first few hours each day is that we are genetically programmed this way.
Back in the days when we lived in small tribes, the community's safety depended upon keeping watch as others slept. If everyone slept simultaneously, the tribe was in great danger. Mother Nature accounted for this problem by programming certain people to be night watchmen at different times of their lives.
Whether we're morning larks or night owls depends on our genetics. Unfortunately for the night owls, the standard American work schedule revolves around the timing of the lark. The good news is that many of us now have the power to adjust it to our liking.
Okay, what does all this have to do with our job searches? Well, maybe we should seek a job that matches our circadian rhythm and not just our 401K. Imagine how much better our work-life balance would be if our work schedule were in-tune with our biological timing.
If we want to understand our circadian rhythm and have it work for us instead of against us, we need some attention to our tendencies. When do we wake up naturally without any alarms or appointments? How long does it take to feel alert after waking? What activities are easy to do in the mornings and afternoons, respectively? Is there a pattern to our mood fluctuations throughout the day? What happens if you get to work an hour earlier or later?
Use your answers to design a personal daily rhythm schedule. If you need help, refer to this general outline from the book, The Secret Pulse of Time by Stefan Klein. This schedule is based on a person who wakes between 7-8 am and goes to bed from 10-11 pm.
- 5:30 am - We're in our most intense dream state as our adrenal gland secretes the hormone cortisol to arouse us. Our blood sugar levels fall, and we're about to feel hungry.
- 6:00 am - Our heart rate increases, and body temperature rises.
- 7:00 am - We wake up with large quantities of testosterone arousing us.
- 7:30 am - Brain fog is real as we begin our day with mechanical operations like brushing our teeth, shaving, and showering.
- 8:00 am - Our bodies finally stop producing melatonin, and our mental powers begin kicking in.
- 10:30 am - The mind is in its most alert state, and we find this the ideal time for tackling the more complex problems of our day.
- Noon - We feel strong because our muscle tension reaches its peak around this time. Our handshake is firmer now than at any other point of the day. We're hungry again.
- 2:00 pm - Contrary to popular belief, we begin to grow weary not from digestion but from a daydream state as our concentration abilities wane.
- 2:30 pm - The perfect time for an afternoon nap to recharge the batteries. 20-minutes should do the trick.
- 4:00 pm - Our reaction time grows shorter, but we become better at simple tasks. Late afternoon is the best time for memorization of facts and details.
- 5:00 pm - Our body temperature begins rising, and our limbs grow more flexible as our heart lungs operate at their highest efficiency. It's an excellent time for a workout.
- 6:00 pm - The sense of taste is at its keenest, and hunger accompanies it.
- 7:00 pm - Alcohol is best tolerated at this time of the evening because the liver reaches its peak in about an hour.
- 8:00 pm - Our brain can complete routine tasks like paperwork, paying bills, and reading.
- 9:00 pm - The first hit of melatonin hits our system, and our body prepares for sleep by reducing its temperature.
- 10:00 pm - Our alertness fades, our mood dips, and we're ready for sleep.
This guide is merely an outline of how the human body works throughout the day. Use your natural sleep schedule and adjust accordingly.
The Value of Time
Often ignored because it's seemingly endless, time is our most valuable resource. Our lifespan shortens with every passing second, and we will never get this second, minute, hour, day, or year back. It's gone!
Not fully understanding the value of time has consequences beyond wasting it. Ignoring our circadian rhythms jeopardizes our overall health. Men who work the night shift suffer metabolic changes leading to increased risks of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.
So during this Great Resignation, we need to value our time now more than ever. The expected number of job openings this fall is more than 11 million. Sure, not everyone can pick and choose their work, but value your time the most whenever possible. A few extra dollars is hardly a fair trade for the scarcity of our precious time.
Anther. Male wellness where you need it most.