What would be your perfect day? While most of us imagine fine dining and sunny beaches, scientists have a different picture.
Last week, research revealed that 7.30am is the perfect time to make love, while wine is best enjoyed at 6.10pm.
In fact, there’s a best time for everything from swimming to shopping and drinking coffee — but not always when you might expect.
Here, the experts describe the perfect day hour by hour.
RISE AND SHINE
Sound early? This is the ideal waking time for most of us. ‘Wakefulness is controlled by two processes in the brain, one that alerts you and another that drives you towards sleep,’ explains Dr Paul Kelley, a sleep expert based at Oxford University. ‘This is governed by melatonin, the sleep hormone, and orexin, the wakefulness hormone.’
A teenager’s system is dominated by melatonin until mid-morning, so they’re lethargic if they rise early.
But as our brain, lungs and muscles slow down, our body clock shifts forward to compensate by keeping us alert for the maximum time.
Getting up at 6.45am also ensures seven to nine hours of sleep.
Earlier this year researchers at the University of Bath found that exercising before breakfast burns more fat, because the body taps into fat reserves instead of our most recent meal.
GET SEXY OR SUNNY
Conjugal bliss this early? Yes.Male testosterone levels peak in the morning, so sex lasts longer — and women have more energy.
The rush of endorphins sparked by sex lowers blood pressure and also puts you in a better mood.
If you’re after a more leisurely activity, 20 minutes in the garden under bright morning light is a ‘potent’ trigger for your metabolism, according to neurologists at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
A two-year study of 509 million tweets found messages sent in the morning were upbeat. As the day wore on, posts showed distress, anger or guilt.
PROBLEMS AND COFFEE
We reach our mental peak three hours after waking, say biologists at the University of Southern California. It’s because body temperature has its first peak mid-morning, so concentration and memory are optimal.
You can get an extra boost from coffee — though not before 10am. From 7am to 10am, cortisol, a stress hormone that helps wake us up, is at its highest. Extra stimulants will make you jumpy.
we need a break just after 10.45am, when stress levels peak. Research from one U.S. nursing college found 45 minutes of art therapy lowered cortisol levels and reduced anxiety. Visiting an art gallery has a similar effect.
TIME FOR LUNCH
Lunch should be around four hours after breakfast according to Dutch biologists. Eating roughly every four hours speeds up your metabolism, they said, helping us lose weight.
A study of 420 dieters by researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain also found early launchers lost more weight even when they ate the same calories as those who ate later.
ASK A FAVOUR
People are more generous after lunch, research suggests, so if you’re seeking promotion or want to persuade a friend to babysit, now is a good time to ask.
HAVE A NAP
We feel tired around 2pm when our cortisol levels drop for the second time during the day, thanks to the ‘cortisol curve’, says Dr Sara Gottfried, author of The Hormone Reset Diet, so now is the perfect time for a nap.
Ten minutes can improve performance for the rest of the day by restoring wakefulness, U.S. doctors found. The key is to nap for 30 minutes maximum.
A SPOT OF PAMPERING
Now is a great time for a manicure or a blow-dry. We’re most distracted between noon and 4 pm, Pennsylvania State University psychologists have found, so a break is beneficial.