Looking for easy ways to boost your health? If you schedule health-promoting activities for times that work well with your body's built-in clock, you might find it easier to protect your heart, improve your sleep, and even drop a few pounds.
It's best to schedule dental work for the afternoon. That's because the pain-killing effects of anesthesia last longer then than in the morning. In one study, the injected drug lidocaine kept nerves numb five times longer in the afternoon than in the morning.
Blood pressure fluctuates over the course of the day, often spiking when you wake in the morning and falling to its low point around bedtime. If you rely on blood pressure readings taken only once-a-day, you and your doctor may be getting an unrealistically reading - or one that is unrealistically low. Better to take your BP twice a day - at the same times each day.
Trying to lose weight? Experts used to recommend weighing yourself once a week. No more. Recent research shows that dieters tend to pack on the calories on the weekend. So stepping on the scale on Fridays (when your weight is likely to be at a low point for the week) could give you the positive feedback you need to stick to your diet. And if you get back on the scale on Mondays, you'll get a quick heads-up that you've strayed - and that you need to get back on track.
When you eat dinner can make a big difference in your weight-loss efforts. Earlier seems to be better, according to recent studies. "If you think you're doing everything right with your diet but you're not losing, try having dinner an hour earlier," says Northwestern University's Deanna Arble, author of one of the studies.
Eating too close to bedtime also seems to increase the risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a common cause of heartburn and a contributor of asthma symptoms.
Working out late in the day help you get fit faster. That's the suggestion of recent research, including one study that showed that strength and endurance climb by about five percent between 3 and 9 p.m. You can push yourself harder then - and your muscles will be warmer, which will help you avoid strains.
Do you take a daily aspirin to cut the risk of a heart attack? Ask your doctor about taking it late in the day. That way, you'll have plenty of the drug in your system during the early morning hours - when your heart risk is up to three times higher than at other times of the day. If you take aspirin in the morning, it might not "kick in" until the risk has dropped.
Hay fever symptoms such as runny nose, scratchy throat, and sneezing typically are at their worst in the morning. What helps for most people: taking medication at bedtime, says Dr. Richard Martin at National Jewish Health in Denver, so you don't have to wait for your morning medicine to fire up.
Nothing says spring is coming like the hour of sunlight you gain when daylight saving time begins - but your heart might pay for that pleasure.
Swedish researchers have seen a five percent jump in heart attacks during the first week of daylight saving time, probably because of the loss of sleep and the disruption of bodily cycles. Next year, it may be beneficial to get to bed earlier on the night you switch your clock.