Circadian is the technical term for biological rhythms that run on a daily cycle.
Lately I've been more and more aware of mine. I'm not sure if this is because the rhythms are actually getting stronger (though they may be) or because of the life I'm living just now. I'm not going to work every day; and while the days are pretty full, I have a lot more liberty to notice how my energy and attention seem to rise and fall through the day.
For example. Early afternoon I notice I'm getting a bit sluggish. This seems to be my natural nap time -- and if I can get a nap then (I usually can't), I'm likely to be more alert for the rest of the day.
Later afternoon, things pick up a bit. I'm more energetic, and much more able to focus on things. This is a good working time for me.
Then comes the evening crash. Somewhere between five and six, I'm likely to just run out of steam. From then until eight thirty, maybe nine or so, I'm sluggish and easily distracted. This doesn't always happen (it's less likely if I got a nap, or if I'm deeply engaged in work, or have had a lot of vigorous aerobic exercise) but I have to say it's the default. And it's really annoying, because that's a time of day when a lot is happening: the boys are home, we're playing and reading books and watching TV together, then there's dinner and the whole bath/stories/bedtime thing. It bugs me that I'm likely to be simultaneously dopey and flighty during what should be peak family interaction hours.
Almost as annoying: unless I'm completely exhausted, I consistently catch a second wind in the later evening. 8:30 or 9:00, and suddenly I'm perking up and feeling much better. It's a sharp turn, too -- from slouching around, barely able to assemble a complete sentence, to "let's do some Wii Fit!" in ten minutes flat. What's irritating is that my family doesn't get the benefit of this belated surge of energy; by this time the boys are all in bed and Claudia is slowing down towards bedtime. It's also a nuisance to have my peak working time so far outside normal office hours. And when the energy lasts past midnight -- as it often does -- I have to pay for it the following day. It would so much more convenient if the sine curve went the other way: high in the early evening, crash in time for an early bedtime. But that just doesn't seem to be how I'm wired.
There are some ways to push back against this. Coffee, of course. Exercise. My frenemy Ritalin, who deserves a post of its own. The afternoon nap is good -- it blunts or eliminates the crash, which is great -- but naps are hard to fit into my life right now, believe it or not. Also, naps come with a price tag (beyond the time to take them, I mean): I wake up sluggish and stupid, and it takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour before I'm back to par. It's a net gain nonetheless -- but if you are, say, married to me, it can be very frustrating to run the kids and the house for an hour and a half, only to have the husband wake up even dopier and more absent than before.
Anyway: circadian rhythyms.
This is a TMI post, yah? Says so right on the label. Still... does anyone else have these sorts of issues?