How learning your chronotype can help you sleep better

If you’ve made it this far, chances are you’re looking for better sleep remedies. You tried melatoninspicing up your night routine and even wake up early hoping to get rid of your insomnia. But what if your body naturally prefers a different daily schedule? This is because they are all programmed to work best during different peak times.

People fall into different groups known as chronotypes based on their body’s natural preference for morning or evening. Chronotypes are categorized into four groups: bear, dolphin, lion and wolf. The names of these groups are all related to the animal’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Knowing your chronotype can lead to better sleep. Here’s what we know.

See More information: Sleep Better Tonight With These 6 Natural Remedies for Insomnia

What is a chronotype?

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Your chronotype determines when your body naturally feels like falling asleep and waking up during the day. This might sound familiar, and some might even refer to it as circadian rhythm – a term for the body’s internal clock. So you might be wondering, are they the same? Simply put, not exactly.

Think of your circadian rhythm as your 24-hour physiological cycle, while your chronotype is your natural or preferred biological behavior during those 24 hours — such as sleeping, eating, and productivity levels at certain times of day.

Research shows that your chronotype determines your peak cognitive and physical performance during the day. Understanding your internal clock can help you optimize your schedule and daily activities to use your time more efficiently and even increase productivity.

The four animal chronotypes

We’ve all heard the terms “early riser” and “night owl”. Well, there’s some truth to that. The four groups of chronotypes – bear, dolphin, lion and wolf – are all linked to this animal’s sleep-wake cycle and can also shed light on human behavior.

Let’s dive into the common features and optimal programming for each to help you maximize your productivity and help you capture those zzzs. The following descriptions for each chronotype are based on the book by bestselling author and sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, The Power of When.

The bear

The Bear Chronotype

photo by Paul Souders/Getty, graphic by Sarah Tew/CNET

People with this chronotype follow sunrise and sunset. Bears spend most of the day awake and are pretty much in the middle in terms of sleep and wake times. As for productivity, bears are most productive in the late morning and early afternoon.

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you fall into this chronotype. According with the doctor. Breus, about 50% of the adult population fits the bear chronotype. It is easy to see how this group dominates our social agendas when they represent more than half of the population.

The lion

The Lion's Chronotype

photo by JRLPhotographer/Getty, graphic by Sarah Tew/CNET

The lion chronotype is the definition of “early riser” – lions feel best when they wake up early in the morning and finish their to-do list before noon. The lion chronotype wakes up with a lot of energy. You know, that person who is suspiciously happy at 6 am? Yes, probably a lion. If you fall into this group, it’s best to schedule important meetings or activities before noon. Even though lions spend most of the day with a lot of energy, they often feel exhausted and find it difficult to concentrate in the afternoon. About 15% to 20% of people identify with this chronotype.

The wolf

The Wolf Chronotype

photo by Anagramm/Getty, graphic by Sarah Tew/CNET

If you consider yourself a “night owl” and you get those energy spikes after everyone else is relaxing, you’re probably the wolf chronotype. Like a real wolf, this chronotype is known to perform most of its activities at the end of the day. Wolves like to stay up late at night and struggle to wake up early. For this same reason, the wolf has difficulty adhering to a typical nine-to-five work schedule. Wolf productivity peaks from 12 noon to 4 pm and picks up again around 6 pm. About 15% to 20% of the population fits this chronotype.

the dolphin

The dolphin chronotype

photo by SValeriia/Getty, graphic by Sarah Tew/CNET

If you have trouble falling asleep, waking up, or following a structured sleep schedule, you likely have the dolphin chronotype. Of all the chronotypes, this is the rarest – about 10% of the population identifies with the dolphin chronotype. Dolphins often have difficulty staying asleep because they tend to be very sensitive to external factors such as noise and light, and are likely to be diagnosed with insomnia. These people also often sleep less than the recommended eight hours. The good news is that they have a wide window of productivity. Dolphins feel most productive between 3pm and 9pm

What is my chronotype?

According to a study, chronotype is influenced by many factors such as age, sex, environment and even genetics. The same study found that “women were, on average, chronotypes earlier than men until age 40, but later types after that.” Adolescents tend to identify with later chronotypes, while adults tend to shift to an earlier chronotype with age.

The easiest way to find out what your chronotype is is to take a chronotype test:

  • MEQ Self-Assessment: The Matutino-Eventuar Questionnaire has a total of 19 questions and a number of points awarded for each answer. At the end of the quiz, you will add up your score total. You will be categorized as morning type, night type or intermediate type based on this number.
  • AutoMEQ: This is the automated version of the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. You’ll answer the same 19 questions about your daily sleep and wake habits and get personalized feedback once you’re done.
  • The Power of When Questionnaire: This questionnaire was prepared by the Sleep Doctor himself, Dr. Pitches. The main purpose of this test is to determine your chronotype to help you work with your body’s natural cycle.

How to work with your chronotype for better sleep and productivity

Not everyone works on the same “biological time”. So many of our school or work schedules are out of sync with our chronotype. This can cause a misalignment between our internal clock and sleep-wake schedule, especially during the week. Research shows that “social jetlag,” or shifting schedules between the school or work day and the weekend, can negatively affect your health, as it’s linked to metabolic disorders, obesity, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.

Understanding your chronotype can be a game changer for sleep better and increasing productivity. Knowing what time your body naturally feels most energized can help you organize your daily schedule around peak times.

Below is a list of the ideal daily times for each chronotype according to Dr. Pitches.

Ideal daily schedule for bears:

  • wake up: 7 am
  • Breakfast: 7:30 am
  • Peak hours: 10am to 2pm
  • Lunch: 12pm
  • Exercise: 6pm
  • Dinner: 7:30 pm
  • Go to bed: 11pm

Ideal daily schedule for lions:

  • Wake up: 5:30 am
  • Breakfast: 6 am
  • Peak hours: 7am to 12pm
  • Lunch: 12pm
  • Exercise: 5pm
  • Dinner: 6pm
  • Go to bed: 21:30

Ideal daily schedule for wolves:

  • Wake up: 7:30 am (with the help of four alarms)
  • Breakfast: 8 am
  • Lunch: 1pm
  • Peak hours: 4pm to 6pm
  • Exercise: 7pm
  • Dinner: 8pm
  • Go to bed: 12pm

Ideal daily schedule for dolphins:

  • Wake up: 6:30 am
  • Breakfast: 7:30 am
  • Peak hours: 3pm to 9pm
  • Lunch: 12pm
  • Exercise: 6pm
  • Dinner: 7:30 pm
  • Go to bed: 11:30 pm

Too long, I didn’t read

Your chronotype can tell you a lot about your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. However, while these types can give you an idea of ​​your ideal time, they can vary from person to person or even change over the course of the same person’s lifetime. Whether you’re a bear, lion, wolf, or dolphin, understanding your chronotype can help you maximize productivity, get a good night’s sleep, and even improve your overall quality of life.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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