You probably already know that the secret to good comedy is timing. But timing is also important for non-laughing matters, like your health. Chronobiology is a relatively new science that explores the effects of time on all living things, from when you’re most likely to have a heart attack (in the morning) to the best time to pay your bills (between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., or between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., when your brain is most alert). Here’s a list of other optimal time slots to do everything:
The best time to …
- Eat carbs: 7 a.m.
When you wake up, your body produces a number of appetite-regulating chemicals. One, called neuropeptide Y, not only tells you to eat, but it’s very specific about what it wants you to consume: carbohydrates. Stick to whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal or whole-wheat toast; a recent Austrian study found that breakfasts rich in these complex carbs are more satisfying and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Go grocery shopping: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday or Wednesday
Head to the grocery store early on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and you can beat the crowds. You’ll also find shelves fully stocked at that time.
- Undergo surgery: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Even surgeons need to warm up to perform their best. The best time for any kind of surgery is midmorning -- it’s after surgeons have performed a few procedures and before they have time to get tired.
- Be photographed: Noon to 1 p.m.
Midday is ideal for a photo shoot -- it’s when you look your healthiest and most alert. Morning puffiness has faded, and the day’s fatigue hasn’t yet begun to show.
- Buy fresh fish: 1 p.m., Tuesday and Friday
Weekly shipments arrive on Tuesday mornings and Friday mornings at your local grocery store or fish market, so look for the best selection a few hours later.
- See your dentist: 3 p.m.
If you’re having a procedure that requires anesthesia, that 3 p.m. appointment slot is ideal. French experts have found that the dental pain meds typically last longest when given then, so you’ll be comfortable until you head to bed.
- Hit the gym: 4 p.m.
Your body temperature is highest in the late afternoon, and at its lowest when you wake up in the morning. Numerous studies, including recent ones at Liverpool John Moores University in England, have shown that working out when your muscles are warm gets you better results -- it’s the optimal time to build strength and endurance and improve your performance. Your exercising feels easier, your reaction time is quicker, and your resting heart rate and blood pressure are low.
- Take a mini break from your diet: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Ideally, you’d never cheat on your diet, but if you really need to, do it within a few hours after your workout. That’s when your body processes cholesterol and carbs most efficiently.
- Take aspirin for lower blood pressure: 10 p.m.
If a daily aspirin is part of your health regimen, taking it just before bedtime is ideal. A recent Spanish study found that 85 percent of people whose blood pressure was teetering on high had a 6.2 mmHG drop in their systolic pressure (the top number) and a 4.1 mm Hg drop in their diastolic pressure (the bottom number) when they took a 100 milligram aspirin tablet -- but only when they took it at night. The morning aspirin takers didn’t get the same benefit.
- Floss: Right before bedtime
At night, your body takes a break from producing saliva, which is your fallback mouth cleaner. That gives bacteria a chance to throw an all-night party, feeding on the little appetizers between your teeth. Be sure to floss right before you go to bed, to wipe out any feast the bacteria were planning on for the night.