The Power of the Ultradian Rhythm: How to Work Smarter, Not Harder


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Thump! Thump! Thump!

Feel that? 

Hold on. Let’s try that again

Place your hand across your chest. Do you feel your heart beating? As I write this post, mine is beating ever so calmly. One heartbeat is the equivalent of one cardiac cycle – one cycle of contraction and relaxation of the cardiac muscle.

The cardiac cycle is one of the many biological cycles that keep your body going, whether you pay attention to them or not.

But what if you could boost your productivity and performance with your natural rhythm? That’s where the ultradian rhythm comes in. It’s a simple concept but a powerful one.

What is the Ultradian Rhythm?

The ultradian rhythm is a natural biological cycle that lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. It alternates between periods of high and low brain activity. It repeats continuously throughout the day and night and affects how you feel and function.

The ultradian rhythm is different from the circadian rhythm, which also influences productivity. While the circadian rhythm determines when you feel sleepy or awake, the ultradian cycle determines how you feel during those states. 

Studies have shown that aligning your tasks with these natural cycles can optimise your productivity and performance.

How It Works

During the high phase of the ultradian cycle, your brain is alert and focused. This is the best time to do tasks that require concentration and creativity. You can make the most of your cognitive abilities by avoiding distractions.

Contrarily, during the low phase, your brain is relaxed and recovering. That is the best time to take a break or do something relaxing. You can recharge your energy and prepare for the next high phase by giving your brain some rest.

According to research, people who work in sync with their ultradian rhythm can increase their productivity, mood, health, and quality of life.

You can read more about the ultradian rhythm here and here

How to Work Smarter with the Ultradian Rhythm

It’s not always about working harder. Sometimes, you actually need to take a breather and just look for how you can work smarter instead. By structuring your day around your natural ultradian cycle, you can do just that. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Work on your most complex tasks during your peak energy periods, usually lasting 60-90 minutes. Focus intensely during this time, avoiding any distractions.
  • Listen to your body. When you notice your concentration and energy dropping, it means you’re entering a low phase in an ultradian rhythm. It also means you need to take a break or switch tasks.
  • Use the Pomodoro technique to break up your 60-90-minute periods (25 minutes of focus, 5 minutes of rest).
  • Stop completely after 60-90 minutes. This break should last 20-30 minutes. Your goal is to let your brain rest and recover. If you don’t rest well during this time, you’ll waste precious focus time.


The ultradian rhythm is more than just a biological cycle. It’s a smart work tool that can boost your productivity, performance, mood, health, and quality of life in one simple action. Take charge of your time and energy by using the ultradian rhythm to your advantage. Remember, if you don’t plan your day, someone else will plan it for you.

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