Experts reveal the ideal hours to nap, exercise, ask for a raise, and more.
Take a Nap
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
An ideal nap should last 15 to 20 minutes. More than 30 and you may end up with sleep inertia―and feel even more groggy when you wake up. Early afternoon is indeed when your circadian rhythms (the pattern of physical and mental changes we each repeat every 24 hours) are "more likely to want your body to sleep. Experts insist that if we weren’t all sleep-deprived, we wouldn’t even need naps.
Read (and Retain) Information
8 a.m. or 10 p.m.
If you’re going over notes for today’s presentation or studying for an examination, do it early in the morning, when your immediate recall is highest. For longer retention, evening is better. Your brain doesn’t store information with the same efficiency all day; there are peaks and valleys.
Take a Multivitamin
Taking your supplements with a meal is important because vitamins are components of food, and whether water soluble or fat soluble, they are absorbed better with food. Also, as with many other pills, you’re more likely to get queasy if you take multivitamins on an empty stomach. Breakfast is the meal of choice. Because most people have it at home (whereas lunch and dinner are often eaten elsewhere), making the morning meal your time for vitamin-popping will help you stick with the habit. Another reason dinnertime may not be a good option is that certain nutrients, including vitamin B, may keep you awake.
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
For increasing fitness, decreasing the chance of injury, and improving sleep, the best time to exercise is late afternoon or early evening. At these times, your lungs use oxygen more efficiently, you’re more coordinated, and your muscles are warmed up, so you’re less likely to suffer a sprain or strain. Finish exercising at least three hours before bed so that when your head hits the pillow the extra adrenaline will no longer be pumping through your bloodstream (and other factors that keep you awake will also have subsided). Bonus: If you’re all wound up at the end of the day, exercise may be a great stress reliever.
Clean the House
You’re more likely to whistle while you window was if you do it in the late afternoon. That’s when hand-eye coordination is at its peak and mood levels are high. If anyone in the house has allergies or asthma, avoid insomnia-hour and morning cleaning sprees (nasal-allergy symptoms are most severe between 6 a.m. and noon, asthma attacks more likely between midnight and 6 a.m.), and finish well before that person walks in the door. It takes about an hour for allergens and dust to settle after you clean.