Relationship Between Your Chronotype, Sleep, and Productivity
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for everyone. However, how far most of us are able to achieve a good night’s sleep is a different question altogether. This is not to say that people are not aware of the importance of sleep. But the fact is that every one of us has a different sleeping schedule or sleep type. There are four broad categories of sleep type or chronotype, and your chronotype is what shows you when to go to sleep. Your chronotype is also what gives you a more in-depth insight into your daily activities such as working, eating, socializing, and even exercising. If you are confused about what is your chronotype, then here’s everything you need to know about the relationship between your chronotype, sleep, and productivity.
What Are Chronotypes, And What Does It Have To Do With Your Sleep?
A chronotype is an individual’s circadian typology. This means that a chronotype is the individual differences in alertness and activity in the evening and morning. Every person has a different level of alertness in the mornings and evenings, and this level is what is determined by your chronotype.
Understanding your chronotype will help in understanding your body’s internal clock. How the internal clock works and what you can do to synchronize it better with your daily chores and activities will help you make use of your time in the most effective manner.
So basically, your chronotype helps define the peak productivity times, thus allowing you to plan your day accordingly.(1)
Research typically breaks chronotypes into three types:
- Morning type
- Evening type
Some experts also split these into four types:
Let us understand these different chronotypes in detail.
The Wolf Chronotype
The wolf chronotype describes people who find it challenging to get up in the morning. People with a wolf chronotype tend to feel most energetic when they are allowed to wake up at noon since their peak productivity period begins at noon and ends around 4 p.m.
Wolf chronotype also gets another boost in their productivity around 6 p.m., and it can be observed that such people get a lot of work done during this time, while everyone else finishes their work during the day.(2)
The Bear Chronotype
The majority of people fall under the bear chronotype. This type of chronotype means that a person’s sleep and wake pattern or cycle follows the sun.
People with bear chronotypes tend to wake up easily and also fall asleep very easily. Productivity for people with bear chronotype tends to peak before noon. They are prone to a ‘post-lunch’ dip that occurs between 2-4 p.m.(3)
The Dolphin Chronotype
You might be a dolphin chronotype if you have trouble following any type of sleeping schedule. Dolphin chronotype people usually do not get sufficient sleep since they have a high sensitivity to disturbances such as light and noise.
People with a dolphin chronotype have a peak productivity window between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Lion Chronotype
People with a lion chronotype like to get up early in the morning and are the opposite of the wolf chronotype. They are able to wake up easily in the morning, sometimes even before dawn, and they are at their best performance until noon.
Lion chronotype people tend to wind down early in the night and tend to fall asleep by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
What Are The Benefits Of Identifying Your Chronotype?
By identifying and understanding your chronotype, you will be able to gain more insight into what your sleep and wake cycles should look like. This also helps you determine your peak productivity times.
Some of the benefits of knowing your chronotype include:
Helps You Know When You Should Sleep And Wake Up: Research has found that people with evening chronotypes have a sleeping pattern that is timed at least two to three hours later than those with morning chronotypes.(4)
Track Your Eating Habits: Your eating habits can be tracked better if you know your chronotype. A review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition analyzed the association between chronotype, diet, and a person’s cardiometabolic health.(5) The research team found that people with an evening chronotype, such as the wolf chronotype, are linked to lower consumption of vegetables and fruits and a higher intake of energy drinks, sugary drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol. They also have a higher energy intake from fatty foods.
Understanding The Link Between The Sleep-Wake Cycle And Mental Health: It is essential to realize that the sleep-wake cycle can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health. A study found that there is a close connection between mental health conditions, such as depression, in people who have an evening chronotype as compared to people who have a morning chronotype.(6)
How Should You Use The Information Regarding Your Chronotype?
Knowing and understanding your chronotype will help you identify your sleep cycle. This helps in maximizing your wake time, sleep better at night, and also schedule your work and activities according to the most productive period in the day.
However, according to research by the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center, the majority of people neither fit into the morning chronotype or the evening chronotype.(7) They fall under the ‘neither’ category, meaning that their sleep is unlikely to be affected by their chronotype.
At the same time, though, people who have an evening chronotype generally like to have a later bedtime and wake up later in the morning as compared to people with morning chronotype.
No matter what is your chronotype, the best advice is to listen to your body and go to bed when you feel tired and wake up when you feel completely rested.
Knowing your chronotype can help you understand your sleep and wake cycles better. Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial to your health. Your physical and mental health are both affected if you suffer from sleep deprivation.
Knowing and understanding your chronotype will help you maximize your productivity, get more insight into your health, and also learn of some new ways on how to increase the time and quality of your sleep.
- Roenneberg, T., Wirz-Justice, A. and Merrow, M., 2003. Life between clocks: daily temporal patterns of human chronotypes. Journal of biological rhythms, 18(1), pp.80-90.
- van der Vinne, V., Zerbini, G., Siersema, A., Pieper, A., Merrow, M., Hut, R.A., Roenneberg, T. and Kantermann, T., 2015. Timing of examinations affects school performance differently in early and late chronotypes. Journal of biological rhythms, 30(1), pp.53-60.
- BrightSide — Inspiration. Creativity. Wonder. (2020). Here’s the Perfect Daily Schedule That Corresponds to Your Chronotype. [online] Available at: https://brightside.me/inspiration-psychology/heres-the-perfect-daily-schedule-that-corresponds-to-your-chronotype-506010/ [Accessed 25 Feb. 2020].
- Lack, L., Bailey, M., Lovato, N. and Wright, H., 2009. Chronotype differences in circadian rhythms of temperature, melatonin, and sleepiness as measured in a modified constant routine protocol. Nature and science of sleep, 1, p.1.
- Almoosawi, S., Vingeliene, S., Gachon, F., Voortman, T., Palla, L., Johnston, J.D., Van Dam, R.M., Darimont, C. and Karagounis, L.G., 2019. Chronotype: Implications for epidemiologic studies on chrono-nutrition and cardiometabolic health. Advances in Nutrition, 10(1), pp.30-42.
- Kivelä, L., Papadopoulos, M.R. and Antypa, N., 2018. Chronotype and psychiatric disorders. Current sleep medicine reports, 4(2), pp.94-103.
- UW Medicine. (2020). Nathaniel Fletcher Watson M.D. | UW Medicine. [online] Available at: https://www.uwmedicine.org/bios/nathaniel-watson#about-tab [Accessed 25 Feb. 2020].