At what time is the brain more active?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’At what time brain is more active?’’ We will discover why we are more active during certain hours and more sleepy during others.

At what time is the brain more active?

The brain is most active between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, as cortisol levels are highest.

Despite the fact that the brain – the organ that governs most vital functions in people – is classified as ‘perfect’, it’s far from being an organ that works in the same way throughout the day. According to recent research, the human brain experiences various ‘spikes’ of activity during the day.

Specifically, a Japanese study found that the brain responds better to stress-provoking events in the morning. It also better assimilates simple mental tasks during the early hours of the night.

Better deal with stress early

During the research, it was found that office workers responded better to stressful events during the morning. The reason: cortisol.

Yujiro Yamanka, a professor at the University of Hokkaido said ‘’Cortisol is the main hormone involved in the stress response, that’s why  its role is fundamental to protect our body’’

This hormone helps regulate blood pressure and also increases blood sugar levels, when a person is stressed it ensures that they don’t panic and have the mind and energy ready to do something about it, explained the expert. 

Simple mental tasks for later

On the other hand, it was found that the best time of day to perform simple mental tasks is the first hours of the night.

The main reason has to do with the core temperature of the body: the higher it is, the better the performance. And generally, bodies are warmer in the early hours of the night, said Konrad Jankowski, a psychologist at the University of Warsaw in Poland.

“People who need to perform very complex tasks that require avoiding distractions often choose hours when the rest of the world is asleep. For morning people, this would be very early in the morning, before others are awake. For nocturnal people, this would be the time when others are already asleep” shared Jankowski. 

Find your better moment

Of course, age, gender, social and environmental factors have to do with being a morning person or a night person. As soon as we get up, our bodies prepare us for the stress and action of the day, so you should make the most of that advantage.

However, for some tasks, our bodies take a while to get into shape. Some simple activities like doing mental calculations may take a little longer, and this is due to the temperature of the time- the higher the temperature, the better the performance.

“In people in the morning, (the increase in body temperature) appears a little earlier and in people in the afternoon it appears a little later,” says Konrad Jankowski, a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, Poland. “But in general, this time difference is not surprising: a maximum of a few hours.”

What speeds up cognitive processes is the increase in metabolic activity in the brain, specifically in the cerebral cortex. This metabolic activity is increased thanks to the high temperatures of the body in daily activities.

Although these activities are related to body temperature, it doesn’t mean that temperature completely determines those processes, says Jankowski

In fact, it’s really the circadian clock that influences temperature, and this in turn, the other functions. So, some performances can be predicted according to body temperature. Jankowski gives an example, he says that there is a higher risk of accidents the first hour in the morning, when alertness is low, as the temperature is low as well.

Of course, in tasks that require more concentration, the best time depends a lot on whether you are a morning person or a night person. The important thing is to know your rhythm and stay away from distractions.

People usually avoid distractions by performing complex tasks when other people are asleep, adds Jankowski. If you are a morning person, you would surely choose very early in the morning before the others wake up. But for nocturnal people, this would be the time when others are already asleep.

How does your brain work throughout the day?

Have you ever wondered how your brain works, why at certain times of the day you are more active and happy or on the contrary, do you feel sleepy and in a bad mood?

We almost always pay attention to our body: if something hurts we go to the doctor, but have you ever paid attention to your brain? Do you know what it likes? What it needs? and most importantly, how is it performing?

This organ is our control tower, it’s in charge of maintaining order in our body: it regulates our respiration, body temperature, digestion and blood circulation.

It’s responsible for our thoughts and reasoning, makes us speak, dream and is also in charge of our emotions. Every day it receives a large amount of information, organizes and processes it so we can understand it in the best way.

It’s the most important and complex organ in our body, so we are gonna tell you about its day to day with you.

Before waking up

Half an hour before we wake up, cortisol (stress hormone) levels rise; glucose levels rise and the brain automatically activates.

It prepares the neurons so that the moment we wake up they are already perfectly connected. That’s why when we wake up at a time that we are not used to, it’s so difficult for us to locate ourselves in time and space: the brain isn’t ready yet to wake us up.

We dream everyday; however, 80% of people wake up when they finish dreaming, so they can’t remember it. On the other hand, if the last deep sleep has some emotional factor for us, we are more likely to remember even a little.

6 am.: Alarm Clock

If you find it very difficult to fully wake up and get up, you should draw the curtains or turn on the light. A big mistake is to give us ‘’another five minutes’’ in the dark because they will turn into half an hour or more (Oops!).

Light and noise are factors that activate the hypothalamus, taking away any sleep factor. So we can start our day with what our brain loves the most, the release of endorphins.


It’s our first endorphin release of the day: it activates circulation, increases blood pressure, making the heart beat more frequently. In this way more blood reaches the organs including the brain.

Therefore, if you want to start a happy day, take a shower: it will make you happy, it will activate your muscles and your immune system.

In the same way, if you are sick, it will help you, since it increases the activation of antibodies.

Have breakfast

The brain doesn’t get hungry just after we wake up due to the elevation of cortisol, as it keeps us with high glucose levels. Until we already have active endorphins that begin to whet the appetite, an hour or an hour and a half after we wake up we start to feel hungry.

10 a.m.: maximum concentration

If we sleep more than 6 hours, the brain at this time will pay more attention and it will be easier to be focused. Therefore, if we have any pending task that requires creativity and concentration, this schedule is ideal to do it.

During this time our social brain is also stimulated.

Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, is released when we are in contact with other people, when we say hello, hug, or sometimes just by seeing someone we are interested in.

When we start our day with anger we can ruin it completely, as oxytocin levels go down.

Organize work meetings

It’s recommended that if you are going to call an important meeting in your work, do it between 10 and 12pm: at this time, cortisol reaches its highest level, which allows people to exploit their logical reasoning and pay more attention to details.

4 p.m.: full belly happy heart

We return from lunchtime and then we feel pigged out.  Why is this happening?

After eating, the brain sends hormones so that the intestine can digest. Due to the alkalinity, a large amount of blood goes to the stomach, so the brain relaxes, reducing its activity.


Remember that we must sleep more than 6 hours, people who don’t sleep well tend to experience stronger feelings of loneliness. It also affects memory, as it decreases by 30% and you are likely to be hungrier during the day.

While we sleep, our body takes care of “resetting” us since it releases growth hormone, repairs tissues, helps in healing, and in improving our skin.

If you have trouble falling asleep, make a mental list of what you will do the next day, breathing exercises, a bath, or a hot drink will also help. It’s the most complex organ in our body, it’s up to us to keep it happy to run smoothly and keep us 100% during the day.

Does the brain rest while we sleep?

A sleeping brain doesn’t rest. A study conducted by Harvard University found that the levels of adenosine triphosphate (fundamental chemicals for supplying cells with energy) in the brain remain fairly constant while a person is awake, but they increase for a moment when the person falls asleep.

Instead of resting, the brain returns to full capacity. Sleeping provides an initial energy boost. This increased energy is used during the night to create and reorganize the connections between neurons.

Therefore, while some areas of the body remain less active while the person is sleeping, the brain uses more energy. 

FAQS: At what time does the brain is more active?

Is the brain more active at night or day?

Human brain is more active and learns more effectively in the evening, between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm are the highest levels of cortisol.

Why is my brain so active at night?

Your brain is very active at night perhaps because it is worried that you should be doing something, or in case you might forget something important , so it is on alert.

What time of day is most alert?

People tend to be the most alert between 9 a.m and 11 a.m. While we are most sleepy between 2: 00-4: 00 am and in the afternoon between 1: 00-3: 00pm

Is studying at 3am good?

In the morning we are more active and focused, however, it depends on whether you are a morning or night person. It’s not bad to study at 3 am as there are less distractions

What time of day is your brain sharpest?

Generally between 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m our brain is sharpest, and then again from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m, at this time learning is most effective.

In this brief guide we are answered the question ‘’At what time brain is more active?’’ and discovered why we are more active during certain hours and more sleepy during others.

So, are you a morning or night person? 

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Feinberg, I., & Evarts, E. V. (1969). Changing concepts of the function of sleep: discovery of intense brain activity during sleep calls for revision of hypotheses as to its function. Biological psychiatry, 1(4), 331-348.

Hokkaido University. (2018, November 27). Beware of evening stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2020 from

Jankowski, K. S., & Ciarkowska, W. (2008). Diurnal variation in energetic arousal, tense arousal, and hedonic tone in extreme morning and evening types. Chronobiology International, 25(4), 577-595.