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The Best Time of Day

continued...

Slather on a sweat-stopper. Take a shower before bed (or just spot-wash your underarms — or your feet, if they've been smelly). Then dry off and apply the antiperspirant of your choice. At night, your body's temperature naturally lowers and you're less likely to sweat, which gives antiperspirant a chance to fully absorb and allows its active ingredients to go to work. By the time you step into the shower the next day, you'll be totally protected.

Take your allergy meds. Both allergy symptoms and the pollen count are highest first thing in the morning, so take your long-acting antihistamines at night to avoid waking up to a sneeze-fest. Bonus: If the pills make you sleepy, taking them at bedtime might help you drop off.

Pop an aspirin if you're a candidate for high blood pressure, the biggest risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In a recent study from the University of Vigo in Spain, people with prehypertension (blood pressure that's between normal and high) who took aspirin around 11 p.m. had lower blood pressure readings after three months than people with prehypertension who took aspirin at 8 a.m. or who made dietary changes. Researchers believe aspirin works by slowing the nighttime production of hormones and other substances that lead to clotting. Talk to your doctor to find out whether it might help you.

THE BEST TIME TO SCHEDULE...

A doctor's appointment: FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. Cut your waiting-room time by booking the first appointment of the day, before the doctor falls behind schedule. A morning slot also keeps you from getting too hungry if you have to fast before a lab test. And if you have asthma, your doc is more likely to catch problems in the a.m., since that's when lung function is poorest. If the morning's all booked, try to snag the first spot after lunch — by then the office should have had enough time to catch up. If you're picking up a prescription, hit the pharmacy before 3 p.m. on weekdays for faster service and less chance of error.

Surgery: BEFORE NOON. Your prime time for surgery is in the morning, when there tend to be fewer complications. In a study of more than 90,000 operations analyzed by Duke University, adverse events were more common between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and least common from 9 a.m. to noon. That may be because the body's circadian rhythm dips in the late afternoon, dropping cortisol and adrenaline and zapping surgeons' energy and concentration. Also, you may be more likely to feel pain or post-op nausea in the afternoon. Try to nab the second or third slot in the OR: A study in the Journal of American College of Surgeons shows that surgeons perform better when they're warmed up. Whatever you do, don't go under the knife on the weekends if you can avoid it; mortality rates are higher, probably because the more senior physicians — who can set their own schedules — are off duty, leaving less experienced staff in charge.

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