When is the best time to take your medicine?

Did you know that heart attacks occur most frequently in the morning? That epilepsy seizures peak in the afternoon? And that asthma attacks generally get worse and more deadly between 11:00 PM and 3:00 AM?  A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal on “Your Body’s Witching Hours” discusses this very thing.

Is there a “best” time to take your medicines? Recent studies of your body clock, that thing inside us all that wakes us up every day, usually three minutes before the alarm goes off, is beginning to get more notice by the scientists that study how our bodies work. Understanding what makes us tick is helping doctors to understand the best times to take medicines, and even how adjusting your evening schedule can help you sleep better.

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As we know, our body is working for us 24 hours a day. Some of these systems are more active at night. Your digestive system peaks between 10 PM – 2 AM, the immune system is most active during this time inflaming airways for asthma sufferers, and swelling arthritic joints.

The sunshine coming in your window tells your body to start getting ready for the day. Your blood pressure and heart rate begin to increase and for those of us suffering from high cholesterol, and maybe even clogged arteries, are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes.

Eating, sleeping, and the other routines that make up our daily schedule can also affect your body’s daily changes. While our basic systems like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing follow a clock of their own, if behavior patterns like eating and sleeping habits get out of sync a variety of health problems can result. Examples of this are the late-night snacks we are all guilty of, and any other irregular eating habits that lead to obesity. Staying up too late to finish that project, read that book, or watch a late movie can disrupt your sleep and affect how you feel the next day.

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All of us have suffered form “Jet-Lag” after a long vacation, but are you aware that researchers are studying what they call “Social Jet Lag?” This phenomen is caused by staying up late and sleeping late a few days each week.  If you do that on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, then by Monday morning, when you have to go to work, your body clock is all out of whack. This can have consequences for days to come.  The sad news here is that studies have shown that the greater the differences between sleep time on weekdays and weekends, the more likely that those people will become obese!

And, as we know, when we get older our sleep cycles become earlier, shorter, and more fragmented. This has been shown to put older people at greater risk for cognitive impairment, depression, and death.

Taking meds at night that help prevent heart blockages may lower the risk of heart attacks. Also, taking acid-blocking drugs at this time might be more effective, given the activity of your digestive system at this time.

In general , experts say going to bed, getting up and eating a the same time every day, getting a lots of light and sunshine during the day and avoiding it at night can really improve your health. According to experts, this is what they’ve always said, now they just understand a little more as to why.

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