Some of us are up and ready to take on the world the second the sun comes up. Others hit their fullest energy level during a midday blast of productivity. One book, The Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus, has has taken the concept beyond early bird or night owl, and we love the doctors take on things.
Dr. Breus, who studies sleep disorders, wants us to know that not everyone’s body runs on the same schedule. As it turns out, we each have a genetically programmed propensity to sleep at a certain time — a chronotype — and learning what yours is and how to work with it is an easy way to optimize life. It gives us the power to know when to do almost anything: have your best sex, go for a great run, eat our fave meal out and metabolize everything at warp speed, ask for a raise, be super creative…
Take the official quiz here to find out your personal sleep type, and learn more about what you need below!
What’s Your Sleep Animal?
Dolphin. Real dolphins sleep with only half of their brain at a time (which is why they’re called unihemispheric sleepers). The other half is awake and alert, concentrating on swimming and looking for predators. This name fits insomniacs well: intelligent, neurotic light sleepers with a low sleep drive [sleep drive = your need for sleep].
Lion. Real lions are morning hunters at the top of the food chain. This name fits morning-oriented, driven optimists with a medium sleep drive.
Bear. Real bears are go-with-the-flow ramblers, good sleepers and anytime hunters. This name fits fun-loving, outgoing people who prefer a solar-based schedule and have a high sleep drive.
Wolf. Real wolves are nocturnal hunters. This name fits night-oriented creative extroverts with a medium sleep drive.
What does it mean?
If you’re a dolphin…
Dolphins account for 10% of the population. They’re light sleepers, they rouse at the smallest noise to wake and warn the group of danger.
Exercise in the morning to help you feel calmer and more leveled throughout the day. Remember to eat lunch (dolphins tend to skip lunch, says Dr. Breus). Set reminder alarms if you need to.
A dolphin’s ideal bedtime is 11:30. Avoid any stimulating activities before bed to ensure a good night’s rest.
If you’re a lion…
Lions account for 15 – 20% of the population. They rise early, taking the morning shift of guarding the group and watching out for roving predators.
You’re naturally an early riser, so take advantage of that time and set plans for the morning. This time is best used for making to-do lists to organize your day. “Lions are sharp at that time—and lions love a list,” says Dr. Breus.
You may be tempted to work out in the morning, but it’s better to save it for the early evening. Working out between 5pm and 6pm can give you the boost you need to get through the rest of the day.
By dinner, you’ve already been awake for a long time and may be drawn to a high-carb meal for that extra jolt of energy. Lions should eat a protein-heavy dinner instead to stay alert, energized and sociable.
If you’re a bear…
Bears account for 50% of the population. Their cycles match the rise and fall of the sun; they hunt and gather in the daylight.
Take advantage of your most productive period. A bear’s focus will be best from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., says Dr. Breus. Use this time to start crossing things off your to-do list.
Going for a midday walk, ideally before lunch, helps speed up your metabolism and improves concentration for the rest of the day. Socialize later in the day when your mood peaks, between 3 and 6 p.m.
If you’re a wolf…
Wolves account for 15 – 20% of the population. They take the late shift to guard the group, drifting off when the most extreme lions start to stir.
Mornings and wolves don’t always mesh. To help get yourself going in the morning, get outside first thing after your alarm goes off, even if it’s just for a 5 minute walk. This will send signals to the brain to stop melatonin production, which otherwise would keep you feeling hazy.
A wolf tends to be most productive towards the end of the day. From 4 to 6 p.m. a wolf should send their most important emails or interact with their boss, as this is when a wolf’s mental alertness is at its peak.
Be sure to unplug before bed. Make conscious efforts to ease into sleep, as nighttime is when wolves get wired. Try meditating, reading or taking a soothing essential oil bath.