Sleeping patterns, behaviors, and characteristics all vary from person to person based on age, activity level and sleeping conditions. These behaviors are classified as “chronotypes”.
The basics: What is a “Chronotype”
The specific circadian rhythm that defines an individual levels of alertness and activity throughout the day.
By understanding which category you fall into, you can then align sleeping, eating, and working habits accordingly, ensuring you’re going about each day and night in a more efficient, optimized, and effective manner. Knowing your chronotype can not only boost your productivity, but it can also help you better understand your body’s needs.
Knowing your chronotype
Instead of fighting your body’s natural rhythm with a sleep schedule that doesn’t work, it’s best to work with your chronotype. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of a personal sleep chronotype starts with knowing yours.
The Bear Chronotype:
Much like its namesake, the bear chronotype follows the solar cycle, and usually doesn’t have much trouble waking up in the morning or sleeping through the night. This chronotype is most productive in the morning, and will typically struggle with an afternoon slump after lunch, generally around 2–4 p.m.
The Wolf Chronotype:
Just like their real life counterparts, wolf chronotypes are most productive at night. The wolf needs more time to hit snooze in the morning to get all the energy they need to sustain their two bursts of creative energy: the first around noon, and the second coming around 6 p.m. when most others have finished their work for the day.
The Lion Chronotype:
The early lion gets the worm. This chronotype feels most alive in the morning with energy levels peaking before noon, and is typically able to complete massive amounts of work before lunch. Waking up early is a breeze for lions and everything tends to run smoothly until midday. Just as fast as energy for a lion is gained, it’s lost.
The Dolphin Chronotype:
The insomniac of the water, actual dolphins sleep with half of their brain on at a time — this helps them stay alert and aware of predators. Dolphins have a hard time waking up in the morning, but once they get going, their productivity reaches its peak around mid-morning.
Hacking your chronotype
Now that you know your chronotype, you can take advantage of the three phases of the productivity cycle: peak, trough, and rebound.
Peak: The time of day where your energy, attention, and focus are at their highest.
Trough: The time of day where your energy levels are lowest, and you may find it challenging to focus.
Rebound: A boost in energy and attention (not quite the same levels as your peak, but more than your trough).
If you have some control over when you can work best, plan to do your most critical analytical tasks during your peak. It’s also important to know when the best time is for you to take a break and recharge. While it may seem like a power nap is the only way to energize yourselves, there are other alternatives too. The Wellness Collective has a wide range of products dedicated to beating that energy slump, no matter the hour of day.
While chronotypes aren’t an exact sleep science, they’re an interesting way to learn more about yourself. Generally, people will fall into one of the four categories, but it’s common to have subtle traits of more than one. Hopefully you can use this guide to better understand your work tendencies and become more productive in the process.