From professors specializing in sleep research to the founders of top startups, everyone is talking about chronotype and how it can help improve your creative output, physical performance, and even your overall happiness. But what exactly is it? And how does it work? Read on for a quick guide on picking your chronotype, its impact on your life, and our top tips for working with this powerful force to get more out of life!
- Chronotype is your circadian typology or the individual differences in activity and alertness in the morning and evening. A chronotype is a behaviour we build based on our underlying circadian rhythms,
- Nearly 50-55% of all people are classified under the category of a bear chronotype. This means your sleep and wake cycle goes according to the sun,
- Knowing what your chronotype is and understanding how it affects your sleep allows you to work with your body to utilise your time in the most efficient manner.
What is Chronotype?
Everyone has a master biological clock inside of their brain, however, unlike the regular clock known to us, this internal clock of ours does not keep the same time nor the same pace as everyone else, as research shows that different people function best at different times of the day. For example, if you’ve heard someone say, “I’m a night owl” the reason for this is that some people are meant to be more productive at night than others. This difference is called “Chronotype”, they are behavioural templates determined by a person’s internal clock and circadian rhythms.
Chronotype is your circadian typology or the individual differences in activity and alertness in the morning and evening. A chronotype is a behaviour we build based on our underlying circadian rhythms. A person’s chronotype is the capacity for the individual to sleep at a particular time for 24 hours. The key is, “…individual to sleep at a particular time during 24 hours.” So, why haven’t you been told that you can choose to sleep anytime in those 24 hours? And what time should you be dozing off?
Benefits of identifying your chronotype sleep type animal
If you can identify your chronotype, it can give you a good insight into your sleep and wake cycles, as well as your peak productivity windows.
1. Understanding when you fall asleep
Your chronotype is influenced by your PER3 gene (in addition to several other genes) and plays a role in many internal systems. So while your body may naturally produce melatonin in the evening hours and cease production in the morning hours like most, your chronotype can influence your body’s production of melatonin and help you understand your natural bedtime.
2. Ability to track eating habits
By identifying and understanding your chronotype you can track your eating habits. One review looked into the connection between chronotypes, diet, and cardiometabolic health, and they found that an evening chronotype like the wolf, is linked to a lower intake of fruits and vegetables and a higher intake of energy drinks, alcohol, and caffeinated-sugary drinks.
3. Understanding your sleep-wake cycle and mental health better:
A review found a connection between several mental health conditions, like depression, for people who have a preference for an evening chronotype, compared to those who identify with a morning chronotype.
Know your Chronotype Animal Sleep
Let’s first figure out which chronotype do you fit in? Take the quiz below to determine your type and how you can optimize your time in the best way possible:
AutoMEQ is a questionnaire that gives you advice on your chronotype.
Most research breaks it down into 4 important types of animal sleep:
1. The Bear chronotype
Nearly 50-55% of all people are classified under the category of a bear chronotype. This means your sleep and wake cycle goes according to the sun. Do you wake up easily and fall asleep with no problem? Your productivity peaks best before noon? Do you notice a dip between 2 pm and 4 pm? Bears tend to have a stable sleep schedule but usually don’t feel that they get enough sleep. If on Sunday nights, they stay up late and can’t get into the rhythm during the week. Here’s how you know, that you are bear chronotype:
- You may sleep a lot but don’t get enough sleep.
- Lack of energy after lunch.
- On weekends you try to recoup your sleep.
An ideal Bear chronotype schedule:
Bear chronotype schedule morning: 7 AM to 11 AM
- Wake up and work out for about 8-10 minutes.
- Eat a hearty breakfast and drink coffee – this will help you not overeat in the evening and those extra calories will give you enough necessary energy for the entire day.
- Plan your day.
Bear chronotype schedule productivity zone: 11 AM to 6 PM
- Start with the things that demand a lot of energy and concentration first. You’ll be able to complete them faster and optimize your time better.
- Start your lunch at noon – it’ll give you energy for the rest of the day.
- By lunchtime, you’ll notice a dip in energy levels. It’s great if you can step out for a walk, the bright sun and colours outside will wake you up and help you fight drowsiness. You could alternatively catch a quick power nap.
- Around 2 PM, you may start feeling tired again. Schedule meetings and coffee break to help you pull through the afternoon.
Bear chronotype schedule life after work: 6 PM to 10 PM
- It’s an ideal time for a complete workout. Start with lighter easier workouts, and keep the duration to something that you are comfortable with, maybe a 15-minute HIIT session.
- Choose light dinner after your workout: fewer carbs and more proteins.
Bear chronotype schedule at the end of the day: 10 PM to 11 PM
- Bears can stay up late, but that would just make them cranky tomorrow.
- And that’s why you’d better turn off your gadgets at 10 PM and go to bed at 11 PM.
2. The Wolf chronotype
The wolf often has trouble waking up early, they are commonly also known as your night owls. Around 15-20% of people identify with the “wolves” group. They completely hate mornings, go to bed way too late, and hit the snooze on their alarm way too many times. You’ll find them usually late to work and need to drink 3 cups of strong coffee to wake up.
Wolves are more energetic when they wake up at noon since their peak productivity window starts at noon and ends about 4 hours later. Lucky for them wolves also get another big productivity boost around 6 PM and can get a lot completed while everyone else is done with their day. If you have flexibility with your working hours, great! But if your workday/shift demands you to stick to a daytime routine then are you doomed for the rest of eternity? Simply put, no.
An ideal Wolf chronotype schedule:
Wolf chronotype schedule morning: 7:30 AM to 12 PM
- Start with setting 2 alarms 20 minutes apart. The first alarm is meant to wake you up, while the second one is meant to push you out of bed.
- Сome out to the balcony or a window, take the view in and sip some water. It’ll help you stop hating everything.
- If you are travelling to work, it’s better to get there on foot or pick a stop that allows you a 20-40 minute walk in the morning. If you are working from home, get some music and those shoes, and go out for a light jog or walk. A runner’s high in the morning would jolt you up more than your morning cup of coffee.
- At around 11 am, have your breakfast and a cup of coffee.
Wolf chronotype schedule maximum productivity: 12 PM to 8 PM
- Postpone all-important tasks until 1 PM and get started slowly.
- At 2 PM, you’re at your peak productivity level. Pick challenging tasks now, and work on plans and strategy.
- At 5 PM, you may still feel energetic. Take a break and continue working. It’s the perfect time for creative tasks, and exploring a creative walk.
Wolf chronotype schedule life after work: 8 PM to 10 PM
- Wrap up your dinner around 8 PM
Wolf chronotype schedule end of the day: 10 PM to 12 AM
- It’s really easy for you to stay up late, so set a reminder to make sure you turn off your gadgets and stop scrolling on your device latest by 11 PM, you should be asleep by midnight.
3. The Lion chronotype
The Lion is in some ways the opposite of the wolf. 15% of people are “lions.” They can wake up way before sunrise and complete nearly 80% of all their chores and tasks even before people step out of bed. But find it tough to pull through the afternoons and evenings with the same energy levels. They may seem bored hanging out with friends at night. Typically, lions wind down in the evening and end up falling asleep by 9 PM or 10 PM.
An ideal Lion chronotype schedule would be:
Lion chronotype schedule morning: 5:30 AM to 10 AM
- Your breakfast should consist of fewer carbs and more proteins.
- After breakfast and before the world wakes up, you can choose to either meditate or work out.
- Drink coffee around 10 AM.
Lion chronotype schedule maximum productivity: 10 AM to 5 PM
- Since you had breakfast 3-4 hours ago, you may take a light break and eat some protein bar, yoghurt or cottage cheese.
- You are at your energy peak, get as much done as possible.
- Don’t schedule meetings in the evening, you will be too bored/tired to concentrate. Instead, schedule them during the afternoon.
- After lunch, you still have the energy to carry on for another 2 hours, after that time chooses simpler tasks to execute.
Lion chronotype schedule after work: 5 PM to 9 PM
- Around 5 PM, it’s now around 12 hours that you are awake, you may start feeling sluggish and will avoid tasks.
- Take a power nap, if you can.
- It’s also a good time to work out to give you more energy.
- Eat a healthy dinner early as you can.
Lion chronotype schedule end of the day: 9 PM to 10:30 PM
- Thanks to some exercise and healthy food, you have some energy to spend time with friends or catch that show on Netflix.
- But you should go to bed at 10 PM.
4. The Dolphin chronotype
If you have had trouble following any sleep schedule at all, then you may identify as a dolphin. Nearly 10% of all people are ‘dolphins.’ These are people who sleep restlessly, suffer from insomnia and spend their nights scrolling through feeds and browsing aimlessly. Luckily you still have a peak productivity window and that’s between 10 AM to 2 PM, which is a great time to get things done.
An ideal Dolphin chronotype schedule would be:
Dolphin chronotype schedule morning: 6 AM to 10 AM
- It’s ideal to start your day with a morning run or some light exercise.
- Take a contrast shower to wake up completely, if it’s hot where you live pick a cold shower.
- Have a balanced breakfast around 8 AM, with your carbs and protein in equal amounts.
Dolphin chronotype schedule maximum productivity: 10 AM to 6 PM
- Track your caffeine impact on your blood sugar level, and drink coffee in small amounts.
- Your energy peaks between 10 AM and 12 PM. It’s the best time to pick the most difficult tasks on your list and get them done during this time.
- You may notice, you begin getting tired around lunchtime. That’s the right time for you to pick yourself up and go out for a 20-minute walk.
- You’ll have enough time to deal with your tasks until 6 PM.
Dolphin chronotype schedule after work: 6 PM to 10 PM
- Pick a light snack – a banana, a protein bar, or salad and hit the gym or try a home workout. Stay away from strength exercises as they won’t contribute to great sleep.
- Wrap your dinner by 9 PM. It’s a good time to connect with friends and family or choose to solve complex tasks.
Dolphin chronotype schedule end of the day: 10 PM to 12 AM
- A warm soothing bath, disconnect from all devices and sneak a book into bed.
- Go to bed by midnight. You might not fall asleep immediately, but figure out a position you are most comfortable with.
Knowing what your chronotype is and understanding how it affects your sleep allows you to work with your body to utilise your time in the most efficient manner possible and boost your productivity, get your creative juices flowing and improve the quality of your health.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.