Chronotype refers to a person’s specific circadian rhythm (internal clock), which tells them when it’s time to sleep.
Your chronotype encompasses your body’s natural inclinations to sleep and wake up at particular times.
Chronotype also affects appetite, exercise, and core body temperature.
Based on your chronotype, you feel more alert at specific periods of the day and sleepier at others.
When you identify your chronotype, you can understand more about your patterns and why you are tired/alert when you want to feel otherwise.
For increased efficiency, you can then align your activities with your internal clock.
What Are The 4 Chronotypes?
There are four main chronotypes. You might find that you don’t fit perfectly with one specific type. Some variation is, of course, to be expected. Genetics, circumstantial and environmental factors–diet, work, family needs, emotional and mental state–as well as your physical health play a role in your circadian rhythm.
The Bear’s sleep cycle follows the sun. Bears do well with standard office hours.
Bears are typically easy to wake up and have no issue falling asleep.
Bears’ most productive hours are before noon. They often experience a “dip” in energy between 2-4 p.m.
More than half the population are Bears.
- The Lion is an early riser so it’s easy for them to wake up and, usually, they wake up with, or close to, dawn.
- As a result, lions are most productive during the early hours of the day. Lions go to bed around 9-10 p.m.
The Wolf, who represents approximately 15% of the population, is your classic “night owl.”
Wolves often have a hard time waking up in the morning. The best time for them to wake up is around noon.
Wolves’ most productive time is between noon and 4 p.m. They get another surge of energy around 6 p.m.
The Dolphin is best described as an insomniac.
Dolphins are usually sensitive to light and noise and therefore don’t get enough sleep.
Dolphins often find it challenging to follow a specific sleep schedule.
Dolphins’ window of greatest productivity falls between 10 a.m – 4 p.m.
You can take a free chronotype quiz here
How Can Knowing Your Chronotype Help You Improve Your Life And Work?
Once you know your chronotype, you can plan your day and tasks around the times you are most productive, alert and effective.
You can also create a diet and schedule to support your chronotype.
For example, exercising at the times that best fit your Chronotype can help you sleep better and, as a result, live better.
Here’s another example. If your chronotype is Lion, you are most productive during the early hours and may want to attend to your most important tasks at this time.
By the same token, it would be a good idea to discuss relationship issues earlier in the day rather than leave the discussion to the evening, when a Lion chronotype may be too tired for a heart-to-heart.
Can A Chronotype Be Modified?
While some sleep specialists believe that chronotype is hardcoded and cannot be changed, other specialists believe that chronotype can be modified.
There are times when you need to shift your sleeping hours due to life circumstances beyond your control. Here are a few things to consider when you make this shift:
- 𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴, and it will probably take longer than you’d like to feel comfortable with your new sleeping pattern—𝘉𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵.
- Make a plan. If, for example, you want to shift from a “night owl” into an “early riser,” go to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier. Stick with this until you feel comfortable, and only then move your sleep schedule by another 15 minutes.
- Hone your morning and evening routines.
A morning routine can help you get the most out of your day by elevating your energy, focus and productivity.
An evening routine will signal your brain that it is time to calm down and get ready for bed.
- Diet. Your diet can either support you or interfere with your attempt to change your sleep schedule.
Eat clean and add more superfoods to boost your energy.
Pay attention to the type and timing of the food you are eating.
For example, drinking coffee in the evening might keep you awake later than you want.
Similarly, eating spicy food close to bedtime might cause acid reflux and discomfort at night.
- Relaxation. Learn how to relax your mind and body to incorporate more calm into your day and soothe your nervous system. Calming your brain and body will allow you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Miri is an a hypnotherapist and integrative sleep coach who supports her clients to improve their sleep and their lives.
She works with clients locally from her office in Vancouver, BC and with clients all over the world from the comfort of their homes.
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