We all have our own innate sleep and productivity schedules. Knowing more about our chronotype could give us a better view of ourselves and our biorhythms
This pandemic has caused havoc all around the globe. Not only did it take lives, beat down economies, and force us into despair, it also disrupted our own little worlds. Our lives as we know it might not ever be the same.
Now, almost 15 months later, we are still struggling to live with the “new normal” that was hurriedly forced upon us. Moreover, some things have been just as difficult since day one—sleep being one of them.
Prior to the pandemic, most of us had distinct routines. There was time for work, time for family, and time for play. Now, some things have been taken away and some have bled into each other. There was a time when we more or less knew when work ends and when rest and relaxation begins.
That boundary is seemingly gone. Everything is now a blur and our bodies get confused, with quality sleep ending up more elusive than ever.
But there is a way to sleep a little better—by looking inwards and understanding the way we deal with our own biorhythms, conveniently called sleep chronotype.
I was lucky enough to talk about the concept of sleep chronotype with Eli Abela, a human potential and vitality coach and one of the few “biohackers” in the country.
Sleep chronotype is a concept that is well-discussed in Michael Breus’s book “The Power of When.” Basically, we all have our own sleep patterns that can be categorized into four basic types: Lion, Bear, Wolf, and Dolphin. Think of these as your “kindred spirits” when it comes to sleep, with each having its own characteristics. To attain better sleep patterns, it’s important to plan according to your own chronotype. Let’s take a look at what it all means.
Lions, as hunters, prefer to stalk their prey at or before dawn. This gives them the chance to catch their meals while these are still asleep and inactive. As a lion the day starts really early but by noontime, their energy levels start to drop. When early evening arrives, they’re ready to turn in and call it a day.
Best time to wake up: 5:30 to 6:00 a.m.
Best time for exercise: 5:30 p.m.
Best time for work: 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Best time for bed: 10:10 p.m.
Bears are usually active from dawn to dusk and their sleep-wake cycles follow the sun. This chronotype tends to be productive from late morning all the way until mid-afternoon. After, their energy levels start to dip and fizzle out. For most of the day, their energy levels are steady and consistent. They are also regarded as “people persons” or extroverts who thrive with human interaction.
Best time to wake up: 7:00 a.m.
Best time for exercise: 7:30 a.m. or 12:00 nn
Best time for work: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Best time for sleep: 11:10 p.m.
Wolves are nocturnal: They hunt at night and sleep during the day. As a wolf, the most productive moments start later in the afternoon, right when everyone else is getting ready to call it a day. Because of their sleep-wake patterns, they are sometimes regarded as introverts who crave a lot of alone time.
Best time to wake up: 7:30 a.m.
Best time for exercise: 6:00 p.m.
Best time for work: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Best time for sleep: 12:00 mn
Dolphins are one of the few animals who can utilize what’s called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep. This means that they sleep by turning one hemisphere of their brain off, while keeping the other one on. This allows them to continue swimming and breathing even while they’re dozing off. Dolphin chronotypes would probably have a hard time sleeping or staying asleep. Regarded as “light sleepers,” they often don’t get enough sleep and rest by normal standards. Their peak productivity starts mid-morning and lasts until early afternoon.
Best time to wake up: 6:30 a.m.
Best time for exercise: 7:30 a.m.
Best time for work: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Best time for sleep: 11:50 p.m.
Please take note that none of this is set in stone and that all of these should be used as mere guides to understand where you are in terms of sleep-wake patterns. These are concepts that might give us a better view of ourselves and our own biorhythms.
For a lot of people, they might be able to relate with more than one chronotype and that’s completely fine. After all, we—including our traits, personalities, and qualities—are flexible and malleable.
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