You wake up at the crack of dawn and power through mornings at work. By the afternoon, though, you’re crashing. Compare that to your work wife, who struggles to keep her eyes open all morning but thrives post-lunch. This difference is largely attributed to your chronotype. Here’s the deal on this biological phenomenon, plus how you can adjust your schedule based on your chronotype to maximize productivity.
What is a chronotype? Chronobiology is a field of biology that studies the way living organisms adapt to solar- and lunar-related rhythms (basically, internal clocks). A chronotype, then, is a biological predisposition to be a morning person, an evening person or somewhere in between.
What are the different types? According to Michael J. Breus, PhD and sleep doctor to the stars (like Oprah), in his book The Power of When, there are four chronotypes: Lions, dolphins, wolves and bears. (Yep.) Lions wake up early with lots of energy, while wolves are most energetic in the evenings. Dolphins are light sleepers who are often diagnosed with insomnia, and bears need a full eight hours of sleep every night.
How do I know which I am? While you’re probably pretty aware of whether you’re a morning or a night person, this quiz on Dr. Breus’s site can sort you into one of the four animal categories listed above. From there, you’ll get suggestions for how to tweak your routine to best serve your type. For example, Dr. Breus says that bears should wake up at 7 a.m., eat a high-protein breakfast soon after waking and hold off on caffeine until 90 minutes after getting out of bed. On the other hand, wolves don't hit their peak until later in the day, so they should spend the morning planning and gathering their thoughts and save the late afternoon for meetings.