Question: “Hey Daniel, do you think what time you wake up in relation to the time you train at makes a difference in performance?”

Answer: “Yes, definitely. And throw when you eat into the mix too. Your nervous system goes through fluctuations throughout the day, and you want to catch it when it’s “up” so to speak. People call those fluctuations circadian rhythms, so that would be a term to look into.

What you have is two of the branches of your autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Sympathetic activity is your stimulant. It makes your motor neurons more excitable, opens up blood vessels to the extremities, increases heart rate, increases adrenaline, raises core temperature, etc. It prepares you for physical activity. Parasympathetic activity on the other hand pushes your body toward things like sleep, digestion, and tissue repair. It makes you tired, directs more blood to the gut, slows your heart rate, things like that. These two branches of the nervous system are always keeping each other in check.

The best time to work out is when your parasympathetic branch is down and sympathetic is up. You want to be well removed from sleep and having a lot of food in your stomach. Of course you can force your body to get “up” for activity. Honestly, if you warm up well, there’s only a small performance difference between training at the ideal time and not. But there is definitely a difference.

Ideal day would be good night of sleep, wake up at a normal time (6-8am we’ll say), eat breakfast, make a bowel movement, wait a couple hours, work out. Or eat lunch, wait a couple hours, work out. Late morning and late afternoon are supposed to be the two best times. The interesting thing is that the body’s clock is naturally set based on light and dark. The body wants to sleep at night. It’s very hard to reset the body to a different time and get the same schedule of fluctuations. So if you sleep from 4am to noon, it messes up your rhythms even though you got enough sleep. You may find yourself tired all afternoon and most amped up at 2 in the morning.”