Peak Performance and the Ultradian Rhythm

May 26th, 2012 | Posted in Effectiveness, Leadership Fitness, Vitality by

Most of us are familiar with Circadian Rhythms, which our bodies track on a 24-hour cycle as we oscillate between wakefulness and sleep. Many of us though are unaware of our Ultradian Rhythms, which are natural body cycles occuring at intervals of less than 24 hours.

We experience an Ultradian Rhythm every 90 to 120 minutes. It is a bit different for each person. Think about the last time you were working hard, feeling energized and productive, and then after about an hour and a half to two hours, you started to tire a bit and lose your focus.

A popular response to this waning of our energy is to work through it with sheer determination in hopes of accomplishing what is front of us. This often puts us in a situation similar to reading a book when we are tired and finding ourselves reading the same paragraph over and over again, until we either fall asleep with book (or Nook or Kindle or iPad) in hand or realize that we must stop, at least for a while, before we can regain our focus and comprehension.

Another common strategy when we find ourselves nearing the end of one of our Ultradian Rhythms is to pump ourselves up with caffeine and/or sugar. Or, perhaps grabbing one of those ubiquitous 5-hour Energy drinks which now can be delivered in bulk quantities as touted in one of their recent commercial advertisements.

If we want to sustain peak performance, we must become more skillful at managing our energy throughout the day. By taking periodic breaks, roughly every 90 minutes, we allow our body and mind to renew.

Instead of fighting our natural (down) cycles, we can become many times more effective and productive throughout the day by listening to our bodies and working with these natural rhythms.

One Response to “Peak Performance and the Ultradian Rhythm”

  1. So true; I find myself nearly falling asleep at times throughout the day and have to make myself stand up and do something. We have a dog now and she nudges me every now and then to go out so I’ll make myself take her out for a 1/2- to 3/4-mile walk every couple of hours throughout the day. It does help!

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