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What Is Your Chronotype? Discover Your Best Time To Do Everything

By Ryan Munsey

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You're either a lion, bear, wolf or dolphin.

According to Dr. Michael Breus, aka, The Sleep Doctor and author of The Power of When, understanding your individual chronotype, aka your sleep animal, can help you understand your nature and show you the right time to do everything.

What is a chronotype?

The short answer is this: your chronotype is the behavioral manifestation of your biological clock.

We all know people who somehow wake before the sun without an alarm clock and seem cheerier than a robin on the first day of Spring.

And we all have that friend who works until 2-3am every night and never wakes up before 11am...

So it should come as no surprise that there is a field of science dedicated to understanding individual differences in circadian rythyms.

I asked Dr. Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor, and author of The Power of When to explain the 4 main chronotypes for us so we can understand our nature and schedule our days for optimal focus, productivity, and performance.

The 4 Main Chronotypes, aka Sleep Animals

Bear Chronotype - The most common chronotype, bears account for 50-55% of the population. They're in the middle of the spectrum - not earlybirds, and not night owls. They, like actual bears, tend to rise and sleep with the sun, matching the solar schedule. The "normal work hours" are suitable for bears and they're typically the folks who get things done.

Lion Chronotype - About 15% of the population, lions are early birds and hunters. They're the Type A COO's, managers and drill sargents who wake up, exercise, and coordinate the day's projects before the rest of the world has had it's coffee. Lions, while they make lack vision and creativity, are...

Dolphin Chronotype - Actual dolphins (the marine species, not the human chronotype) sleep unihemispherically. This leaves 1 side of the brain functioning at all times, keeping them alert for predators. Dr. Breus used this animal to represent the 10% of humans who struggle with insomnia and other sleep disorders. While they're sleep in abnormal, Dolphin Chronotypes are usually Type A, intelligent, driven people who make great friends with strong loyalty, but have just enough OCD to keep them from completing tasks.

Wolf Chronotype - Wolf Chronotypes make up 15% of the population and they're the night-owls who stand guard like sentries while the rest of sleep. They tend to be creative types, including authors, artists, entrepreneurs, security guards, sentries, musicians, bartenders, and many are introverts.

How can you use this?

Understanding your chronotype can help you determine the best time to do anything.

For example, Lions usually prefer morning workouts, while wolves struggle to get out of bed before 8am, much less hit the gym with their best effort.

On the other hand, wolves prefer late night activities like concerts and clubs while lions may struggle to stay up long enough for dinner and a movie.

Perhaps the most unique use for understanding your chronotype as Dr. Breus shared, was the power to improve relationships.

Understanding chronotypes allows us to know ourselves better, but it also helps us to know - and understand - others, creating greater empathy and improving both personal and professional relationships.

We can use chronotypes to know the best time to have serious conversations with our spouses and the best times of day to meet with co-workers for the best possible outcomes. 

Listen to the entire interview here:

Watch the video version here:

Links & Resources:

Take the Chronotype Quiz

The Power of When Book

The Sleep Doctor Website

Lighting.science for biolighting

Dr. Michael Breus talks at Google:

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