Episode 76 Circadian Rhythm

June 26, 2023

Good morning from New York City. This morning I’m thinking about circadian rhythm. In case you missed it, I did a recent pod on body intelligence and the clues and cues we get from our body. That can anything from our racing heart, our blood pressure rising or a surge of energy over something. It really helps when you tune into that. What I was thinking about this morning was a time back in Milan. Many years ago I was traveling a lot, so much so that I had my small overnight suitcase always sitting open on a countertop in my laundry room. So, it was a period of a lot of work and movement and travel and all of that. I remember I was talking to my sister Pam one night, Pam and I said to her ah, I feel so guilty. I can’t even get myself to put my laundry in the washing machine in the evening. I was basically lamenting my laziness. Her response was funny. She said “oh, you’re a Klein. Kleins are morning people. We don’t get anything done in the evening.”

It was like lightening had struck and I was like, oh my God, you’re right. It was like a huge relief, and after that I shifted to getting my stuff done in the morning. While that may sound very basic, tuning into your circadian rhythm is so very helpful. For those of you who are already tuned in, that may sound very banal. Trust me some people don’t really recognize how important our circadian rhythm is, and how you can organize your life, your workflow and your activities around your natural energy levels and circadian rhythm. It can be things around meal prep or going to the gym or writing. Whatever it is you want to get done or that feels important to you, ask yourself the question what’s the best time of day to do that activity? If you already know you have a natural lull, how can you organize around that? Or on the other side of the spectrum, when you know you have really strong energy or focus what’s the best use of that time?

I guess I’m also thinking about this – even though it’s not directly related to circadian rhythm –  because I had my wrist broken and I have not been physically active for so long. When I do go play Pickleball it tires me out more than usual, and as much as I love to get physical activity in the morning I can’t really afford right now to be zapped for the rest of the day. I need my day energy for other projects that are important to me right now.

I think it’s also important to be experimental with your circadian rhythm. I did a course last year around creativity. The teacher had us experimenting with different times of the day for these creative activities we were doing. I think we can all fall into telling ourselves stories like I’m a morning person or I’m a night owl, and that evolves seasonally and with age. I know I shared something recently where I was talking about the fact that the story I was telling myself was that – because I am a morning person – I could only write in the morning. Yet I found when I was really inspired by a project, I was doing some of my most impactful and important writing in the evening. When that happened, I was able to unpack that story and see that I had confounded this idea of being a morning person with this idea that I could only write in the morning, and that wasn’t really true.

So, what time of day are you at your best? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Has that changed or evolved in any way? Is there something that you want to do where you could experiment with different times of the day? Our circadian rhythm really does evolve, and it can be seasonal or age related, so maybe you can play with that a little bit.

Speaking for myself, lately I’ve been tired at the end of the day and I’ve been experimenting with going to bed really early, something I would never have done in the past for fear of waking up in the middle of the night. It’s been interesting because I’m sleeping more hours. I used to always think that I only needed six or seven hours of sleep, and I’ve realized that that’s not true. Maybe it was true once upon a time.

So I think it’s interesting and constructive to be experimental and curious about your sleep patterns and your circadian rhythm and perhaps look at the stories or the narratives you have in your head about your sleep and your energy and when you can get things done. It’s not set in stone.

I’ll leave you with that for today. Until next time, from my heart to yours.

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Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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