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Ultradian Rhythms

 Ever felt like you just needed a short nap or break during the day?

Did you take one, and wake up refreshed and able to get more done than if you hadn’t?  

Or did you push through without a break, and then finish your day exhausted? 

You’ve probably heard of Circadian rhythms, the 24-hour cycle of dark and light, waking and sleeping.  Longer cycles, like the moon or menstrual cycles, are known as Infradian rhythms.

Ultradian (ul-TRAY-dian) Rhythms are the 60-90 minute cycles of energy and recovery that are constantly occurring over the course of our lives.    At night, these cycles take us into Deep sleep, Light sleep, and REM sleep.   During the day, we have periods where we are incredibly productive, and then times where we get restless, unfocused, hungry, and tired. 

An example of nightly sleep cycles

TAKEAWAY:   Honor the need to get up, walk around, or take a short break from your tasks. This will help you be more productive than if you had skipped the break and kept pushing.  This short break can take the form of a nap, walk, snack or bathroom break, or just a mental break.

If you ignore this need, the detrimental effects are well documented. You will tend to be more accident prone, make judgement errors, have memory problems, and generally be more irritable and impatient.  Practice tuning into your body, and honor its request to occasionally take a break!

FURTHER YOUR KNOWLEDGE:  If this concept fascinates you, check out a book titled The 20 Minute Break, by Ernest Lawrence Rossi, Ph.D. 


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