Whether you are a morning person or night owl, discovering your body’s natural circadian rhythm personality or “sleep chronotype” could be key to unlocking optimum productivity, according to a leading sleep expert.
Do you wish you were more productive when you get up in the morning? Do you envy people who jump out of bed and tick off half their to-do list before 9am? Or do you wish you could stay up later but find you are always tired later in the day with no motivation to work out or do anything after work?
The good news is that whichever of the above resonates with you, you are not alone. In fact, you could be genetically predetermined to be that way.
According to sleep researcher Dr Michael Breus, our bodies all run on different time schedules, which are linked to our sleep chronotype, and the key to being more productive could be as simple as honouring these natural tendencies. One way to do this is to better understand your sleep chronotype, and, thankfully, Dr Breus has come up with a quiz to help you do just that.
The four sleep chronotypes
When working with patients with insomnia, Dr Breus noticed that their circadian rhythms differed and identified what he described as “circadian rhythm personalities”.
He noted that while everyone had a master biological clock ticking away inside their brain, not everyone kept the same time or went at the same pace.
He categorised these into four sleep chronotypes named after the animals whose sleep patterns most closely resembled them – bears, lions, wolves and dolphins.
While your circadian rhythm refers to your brain’s inbuilt clock that tells you when it’s time for bed and when it’s time to wake up, your chronotype is the unique biorhythm that identifies your preferences in terms of the times of day you have the most energy.
Which chronotype are you?
Bear – Dr Breus categorised people as bears if their sleep-wake pattern followed the sun. People with this chronotype don’t generally have trouble sleeping and are most productive during the mid-morning. Sound like you? Most people fall into this category and find they can maintain productivity for most of the working day. However, bears should beware of that mid-afternoon slump.
Lion – The early risers tended to fall into the lion chronotype. The type-As, the ones who are up and at it at the crack of dawn. As you might expect, they are most productive in the morning and may find they have run out of steam as evening approaches.
Wolf – Wolves are what we may have previously called the night owls. They are the ones who like to stay up late and are most productive later in the day while everyone else is hitting their slump.
Dolphin – Finally, those who struggle to sleep and wake up frequently at night may be a dolphin. Dolphins are worriers, and lying in bed thinking about the day can stop them from getting the rest they need. They are usually highly intelligent and have perfectionist qualities. They are most productive from mid-morning through early afternoon.
If you have been trying and make yourself a lion when you are naturally more of a wolf, you could be fighting a losing battle against your own genetically predetermined tendencies.