What Is A Sleep Chronotype?

Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist was a specialty in sleep disorders. He popularized the theory of sleep chronotypes and their respective animal habits in 2016 with his book “The Power of When.”

In latin, “chrono” refers to time, and in this case chronotype refers to the time of sleep and other regular activities of an animal. Identifying your sleep chronotype is very useful for explaining your bedtime habits, like when you’re most likely to fall asleep and wake up, but also other primal activities like eating or having sex.

Chronotypes are assigned to us on a genetic basis, specifically our PER3 gene. This is why your chronotype is tied to your circadian rhythms and your internal body clock. Early risers tend to have longer PER3 genes, and night owls tend to have shorter ones. The length of your PER3 gene can also rule how much sleep you need every night, because although it’s recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, we all know those people who seem to work perfectly well off 3-4 hours of sleep, while you tend to become a monster if you get just five.

What’s My Sleep Chronotype?

There are four main chronotypes that sleep researchers agree upon. They are lion, wolf, bear, and dolphin. Read on to learn which one sounds like it matches your sleep patterns the most.

sleep chronotype bear social

Bear. Bears are the most common type of sleeper chronotype. They wake with the sun and fall asleep when the sun goes down. They’re good sleepers (sleep through the night easily, don’t have too much trouble falling asleep or waking up, etc.), they tend to be fun loving and social. Bears need eight solid hours of sleep a night. They represent 50% of the population.

Tips for bears: Your most productive period is around 10 a.m., so plan your most important stuff around that time. You should also try to take a short walk before lunch to keep your metabolism going and help you maintain concentration through the rest of your day. Bears are true to the tale that they spend about a third of their life sleeping, so make sure you’re doing so on a good mattress to make sure you’re getting the best quality sleep

sleep chronotype lion morning person early bird

Lions. Lions are the early birds. They naturally wake up early in the morning. They are most productive before noon, and so they’re naturally tired and go to bed relatively early in the evenings for a full night’s rest. Lions represent 15-20% of the population.

Tips for lions: lions are most productive early in the mornings, like around 6-7 a.m.. Lions also tend to be orderly and love a to-do list. Try to plan your workouts around 5pm, because this is when lions tend to crash, so it will give you a boost of energy to keep going. Also, try to limit carbs for dinner and go more for protein and no alcohol after 7:30pm to avoid it messing with your sleep.

Wolf. Wolves are the night howlers of the animal kingdom. They’re practically nocturnal, and because of this, they have a difficult time waking up in the early mornings. They tend to be very creative (especially at night) so they tend to be writers, artists, or coders. Wolves represent 15-20% of the population.

Tips for the wolf: You have two different productivity peaks. One is from noon to around 2 p.m. (because this is when you truly wake up) and the second is when the sun goes down. Try working out around 6 p.m. instead of 6 a.m.. An early morning run will feel more like punishment than reward, so an early evening workout will be more enjoyable and productive. Also, try to unplug around the time you want to go to bed. Wolves are wired at night, and blue light from your phone or television will keep you up all night.

Dolphins. In the ocean, dolphins actually only rest one side of their brain at a time, so they’re never fully asleep. This translates into people who are very light sleepers who have some difficulty when it comes to following a regular sleep routine. People who are dolphins tend to be extremely intelligent and have tendencies toward perfectionism. Dolphins make up 10% of the population.

Tips for dolphins: Dolphins are most productive in the mid-morning to the early afternoons. To maintain a regular schedule during the day, dolphin people should try to workout in the mornings and always eat lunch. Also, try not to do any work in bed, because you’ll never get to sleep.

There you have it. Which sleep chronotype do you think you are?