The 90-minute cycle of alertness during the day and its effect on productivity

Non-stop activity at work – meetings and conference calls end to end with no respite – wears people down. One reason proposed by sleep researchers is that “we oscillate every 90 minutes from higher to lower alertness.” An article in the New York Times, July 24, 2011 at BU8, likened the daylight rhythm to the 90-minute sleep cycles people pass through at night.

It’s as if our bodies ask us for a break approximately every 90 minutes. If we don’t, we rely on emergency sources of energy such as adrenalin, noradrenalin, and cortisol. “In this aroused fight-or-flight state, our prefrontal cortex, which helps us think reflectively and creatively, begins to shut down. We become more reactive, reflexive and impulsive.” Nothing that distinguishes a careful lawyer!

In-house lawyers, under stress and under water, need to recognize that a change of pace, a bit of relaxation, a nap even will help them be much more productive during the remainder of their cycles.

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