You may have always thought of yourself as a night owl, constantly staying up “past your bedtime” and feeling energetic and awake after the sun goes down. Or maybe you’re a morning person, waking up with the birds and starting your day before most people are out of bed. Everyone has a “sleep type” — but you may not have heard of the term chronotype. Chronotype refers to the underlying kind of sleeper you are, and at what times of the day you are most productive, awake, and energized. Your next question is probably, What is my chronotype? Read on to find out what chronotypes are and how you can learn to get more done and feel healthier and more productive by knowing more about your personal chronotype.
What is a Chronotype?
Chronotypes are closely related to circadian rhythms — the sleep-wake patterns that make us feel tired and sleepy or more awake and energized at different parts of the day. The circadian rhythm is influenced by factors like light, and is affected by the amount of melatonin your brain releases at varying times during the day and night. It’s different from chronotype in that your circadian rhythm can change according to your surroundings, travel, or job, but your underlying sleep chronotype remains fairly constant throughout your life.
You may have noticed that you feel more productive and awake during the afternoon hours, and that you can get more done at work during this time. Or, you might be the kind of person who needs to “rise and shine” and complete tasks in the earlier hours of the day. Read on for helpful info on how to be most productive according to your chronotype.
Your Chronotype may reflect your personality
Some people refer to the four main chronotypes with animal names: bear, wolf, dolphin, and lion. Those with the Bear chronotype are most common, and tend to follow this typical pattern: sleep according to the rhythms of the sun, feel energized during the day, and experience a dip in motivation after lunch. Those with this chronotype should aim to complete their most important tasks after breakfast, and plan to take a break for meditation or a brisk walk after lunch to refocus.
On the other hand, if you’re a Dolphin, you have trouble adhering to any kind of real sleep schedule, and you find yourself easily bothered by factors like noise and light. If this sounds like you, you might find that you are most productive from the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — good news, as this is when it tends to be easiest to get tasks done. To help avoid getting woken up by unwanted light, try an eye mask like Eye Mask by Doublebarrelrecords to get restful sleep.
Some studies have shown that people who come alive in the evening tend to work in more creative, artistic professions that require socializing or working during the nighttime hours. This chronotype is often referred to as the Wolf. This type of sleeper has trouble waking up in the morning. They feel most energized and awake from about noon to 4 p.m. Wolf chronotypes are also more likely to have trouble functioning well in the morning hours, and may be more inclined to use substances like alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
People who enjoy waking up early and working in the morning are more likely to hold jobs that require agreeableness. This type of chronotype is the Lion. Early risers like this tend to be most refreshed as soon as they wake, and should go to bed before 10 p.m. This allows Lions to accomplish their goals and tasks in the morning when they are most awake and energized.
How to Make the Most of Your Chronotype
- Listen to your body. When you feel sleepy in the evening, take your body’s advice and go to bed! If it feels more natural to you to go to bed at 8 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m., do it if you can. You’ll be tuning in to your body’s natural rhythms and using your chronotype to your advantage when you get up earlier and start your day with the sun.
- Night owl? Try sleep hygiene. Those with a tendency to stay up later may find themselves tired during the day and unable to complete tasks effectively in the morning hours. This can interfere with work and social events. People with this kind of chronotype should try a “sleep hygiene” routine, such as eliminating screens during the evening, taking a hot bath or shower, and going to bed at the same hour each night to encourage healthy circadian rhythms that will work with their chronotype. Try winding down with a relaxing meditation session. Cover your eyes with a Light Versatile Pillow for a few moments of quiet darkness, or lay down to rest your head. Night owls may require a bit of discipline to achieve a healthy sleep schedule, but this pays off during the day when they’re able to function normally and be productive — even if they’d rather be sleeping in.