The “Early Bird” doesn’t always get the worm..
Oddly enough, even as a kid, I was always an early morning riser. So, when my Dad yanked the sheets off the bed on the weekends, I didn’t mind…as much. Now that sleep has finally got its “medicinal due”, we’re learning more and more about how to optimize it. But before we buy sleeping masks, get under our weighted blankets, and drop the thermostat to 65degrees, we need to understand more about US. We’re not all early morning risers or late-night sleepers, understanding your sleep chronotype not only helps you to figure out when to sleep, but let’s you know the best times for you to eat, workout, be creative…
Q: What is a Chronotype?
A: It’s a natural inclination regarding the time of day when a person prefers to sleep or when they feel most alert or energized. What’s key to understand is the “natural inclination”. Genetically you have your own rhythm, this isn’t when you want to wake up/sleep, it’s when your body is genetically set to do.
Q: Does your Chronotype regulate anything else?
A: Yes, it can also influence 25 other key activities, including your appetite and digestion, your energy levels – mentally and physically, hormonal function, core body temperature, and even the best time to have sex!
Q: Can your Chronotype change?
A: It can, slightly. There is some evidence that shows in our teenage years, we end up wanting to sleep later, then as we get older it shifts to earlier, then back again in older adulthood. However, when lifestyle factors have been removed, it pretty much shows that what you prefer from 25-50yrs old is your true Chronotype.
Q: How many Chronotypes are there?
A: In truth, chronotypes fall in a spectrum, however the (4) most popular ones are:
Lion – “the early bird”, wake up early, most productive before 2:00pm, and in bed by 9-10pm
Bear – 55% of us, they follow the sun, up at daybreak and down when it’s dark
Wolf – the “night owl”, wakes up and goes to bed late as possible
Dolphin – dolphins (the fish), always have one side of their brain alert, same here, best described as an “insomniac”
Q: Let’s talk about the Lion?
A: “Early Bird”. Optimal time to wake up, around 5:30am-6:00am, bed by not later than 10:00pm. They’ll be sluggish by afternoon, so optimal productivity time is between 9:00am-1:00pm, and they should avoid analytic and problem-solving tasks after 2:00pm. Rather focus on creativity, brainstorming, idea generation from 2:00pm – 4:00pm. Around 4:00pm-6:00pm is best physical performance time, so workout then. Best time to have your heaviest meal is in morning. Drinking coffee should be limited to between 8:00am-10:00am and 2pm-4pm.
Q: Let’s talk about the Bear?
A: Half the world! Typically, they have a stable sleeping schedule, but they feel like they don’t get enough sleep. So, they sleep late on the weekends to catch up, that’s a NO-NO for Bears. It will screw them up for the whole week. Optimal wake up time, 7am-8am, bed time by 11pm. Most productive time is between 10am-2pm, from 2-4pm they should focus on less technical/complex tasks, they won’t be at their best. Working out is best either at 7:30am or 12:00pm (best power performance) and if you’re going to drink coffee, Bears should do it between 9:30am-11:30am or 1:30pm-3:30pm.
Q: Let’s talk about a Wolf?
A: The Classic Night Owl. These guys HATE the morning and will guzzle coffee to get their day going. Best to wake up is 8am-9am. They should take it easy till noon, their body and mind are still waking up. From noon to 4pm, they’ll plow through complex tasks, and they’ll get another energy bump around 6pm-10pm. Grabbing a workout or jumping on some creative tasks are best around the 6-10pm mark. Hit the hay around midnight-1:00am.
Q: How about a Dolphin?
A: These guys are tough. Rather than a set schedule, it’s about getting on a schedule and sticking to it the best they can. They typically only sleep for (4) 90-minute sleep cycles and it takes them close to 40minutes to get to sleep. Their day range looks something like 6:30am-midnight. An ideal schedule is wake up at 6:30am, light tasks from 8am-10am, deep/complex work from 10-12pm, then creative tasks from 12-4pm. Their workouts can vary, but early morning workouts can get them going and feeling energized quicker. Due to their insomnia, they should be intentional about winding-down before bed, prepping a couple hours, starting around 8pm.
Q: Ok, let’s find out about the best time to have sex!
A: There’s never a “bad” time to have sex, from a health perspective, there are numerous benefits! But to have the healthiest sex, it’s all about aligning your hormonal profile. Specifically, the hormones, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, adrenaline, and cortisol. For example, you need testosterone to amp up your sex drive, so why “do it” when your testosterone is the lowest! Here are the optimal times for each chronotype: <make this a nice block/graphic)
Bear: 7am or 9pm
Wolf: 10am or 10:30pm
Q: But what about if you’re a Lion and your partner is a Bear?
A: Great question, you can find these “sex based on chronotype pairings” either in the book, “The Power Of When” or going to this website: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/best-time-to-have-sex-based-on-your-sleep-chronotype
Q: How can I find out my Chronotype?
A: Here is an easy quiz you can take: www.thepowerofwhenquiz.com or read the book “The Power Of When” by Dr. Michael Breus. They’ll send you some emails, but most of it is informational, I unsubscribed after the first 10 or so.
Q: How strict do you have to be?
A: This isn’t about functioning; it’s about functioning OPTIMALLY based on some research. It takes into consideration hormonal and other physiological factors driving certain activities. As you get more precise, you getter better results.
Q: How closely do you follow your Chronotype and do you notice a difference?
A: As I’ve gotten older, my chronotype schedule has become more relevant. It’s like taking every “help” I can get. I can’t workout between 4-6pm, so I use the “waking up” time from 6am-8am for a workout. I also know that after 3pm, I’m toast, so if I need to work on more complex tasks after 3:00pm, I eat well during the day, stay hydrated, drink a little caffeine (I don’t usually), and get extra fresh air/sun. It gets me another 3hrs or so. It’s helped me to manage and optimize my schedule.