Last Updated on Mar 13, 2023
Are you a night owl who enjoys staying awake until late at night? Or maybe you enjoy rising early. This is because we identify with a certain chronotype. But, what is chronotype? How is it associated with sleep? Does knowing your chronotype help? Yes, chronotype gives you an insight into your body’s internal clock. So, let’s unpack more. Keep reading to know more!
Simply put, sleep chronotype is your inclination towards sleep, wake, and alertness during the day and night. When you understand your chronotype, you can understand your internal clock better. So, it helps you plan your activities and duties better.
Circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock running 24/7 in the background and is responsible for your sleep-wake cycle. It is influenced by light and darkness and other environmental cues. When your internal clock is properly aligned, it helps you enjoy a peaceful deep shuteye effortlessly. Whereas chronotype is a type of circadian rhythmicity.
Your circadian rhythm can be trained when you maintain a strict schedule but your underlying chronotype cannot be changed. For instance, if you are a night owl and have to be at work at 8 AM every day, you may wake up at 7. But you only tend to feel productive later in the day. However, chronotype doesn’t affect your total sleep time but influences your productivity and sleep-wake time.
Social jetlag is when your chronotype interferes with your day-to-day schedules, such as work or school. Hence, it can make you feel exhausted.
Your chronotypes come from the PER3 gene and rely on age, environmental, and genetic factors. While we cannot actively work towards changing our chronotype, it usually shifts as we grow older. Here, circadian rhythm and chronotype work together. For instance, our circadian rhythm starts melatonin production at night and halts it in the morning. But your chronotype can influence the production of melatonin. So, let’s say you are a night owl. Chances are that your melatonin production may be delayed.
Wondering what is my chronotype? Let’s understand the four types in the chronotype chart and learn more.
You are the lion chronotype if you are a morning person who feels your best when you wake up early. People with this chronotype feel productive and energetic in the mornings and can finish a major chunk of their work before lunch.
But post lunch, they enter a slump and need a power nap to recharge themselves. The lion chronotype also hits the sheets early and sleeps around 10 pm every night. They usually require at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Almost 15% of the population are lions. They are the ones you see exercising early and are usually first to the office too!
Almost 55% of the population are bear. They have no trouble falling asleep or waking up on time and can enjoy a peaceful rest throughout the night. Their productivity levels are high in the morning. But like the lions, they hit a slump post lunch around 2-4 pm. They usually need 7-8 hours of sleep between 11 pm to 7 am.
15% of the world’s population is a wolf and is most productive once the sun sets. They usually have trouble waking up and going to sleep early. Wolfs showcase two creativity bursts, one around noon and the other after 6 pm. They are considered to the night owl!
The rarest chronotype is the dolphin and only 10% of the world’s population is one. They portray anxious sleep behaviors where they experience trouble falling asleep and cannot enjoy a peaceful rest throughout the night. Dolphins can always opt for a power nap to enhance their productivity levels when they feel dull and fatigued. Due to their erratic sleep patterns, they don’t relish good quality sleep.
While some of you may have identified your chronotype right off the bat, others may be still wondering what's my chronotype.
Now, if you identify with more than one chronotype, don’t worry. It is quite normal. In fact, people who identify with multiple chronotypes are known as hummingbirds. However, if you are looking for clarity, you can opt for a chronotype test, where the most popular one is the Power of When by Michael Breus, Ph.D.
But why even make an effort? Well knowing your chronotype is not just a fun activity but can also fetch you advantages, such as;
When you follow a schedule that doesn’t sync with your chronotype, you may experience social jetlag. Therefore, knowing your chronotype helps you manage your activities and sleep.
Each chronotype has a time frame throughout the day where they display extreme productivity. So, when you are familiar with your chronotype, you can identify the productivity window and make the most of it.
Your chronotype may also influence your health. Night owls are more at risk of diabetes or heart conditions when compared to early birds. This helps you take the necessary preventive measures early on.
Of course, you won’t be able to change your chronotype. But when familiar with its every aspect, you can set the ideal bed and wake-up time accordingly. So, instead of working against your chronotype, you make the most of it.
For instance, if you are a wolf who cannot fall asleep before midnight and has a flexible schedule. You can finish the menial tasks of the next day, such as answering emails or making a to-do list before bed so you can extend your sleep for a couple of hours without any stress.
Knowing your chronotype can be beneficial as it helps you achieve a good night’s rest, which aids your overall health. Using your chronotype to your advantage can help you maximize your day and enjoy complete productivity.
Lion, bear, wolf, dolphin… Which one are you?