Discover Your Chronotype: How To Improve Your Sleep Routine
Chronotypes. Sleep. Bedtime routine. How are these all connected?
The quality of our sleep impacts our entire life. When we aren't getting enough rest, more often than not, we chalk it up to stress, late nights, or daily distractions - but the science behind sleep suggests there could be a deeper meaning behind it all - cue chronotypes!
When it comes to achieving restful sleep, it's not just about ensuring you have a comfy bed, duvet and pillows. In this blog, we’re talking about all things chronotypes: what are they and what impact do they have when it comes to achieving a good night’s sleep?
Scroll down to take the quiz and discover how identifying your chronotype can help improve your sleep routine, once and for all.
What Is A Chronotype?
A chronotype is an animal-based classification system used to help understand sleep and productivity schedules. Similar to that of referring to people as either early birds or night owls, there are three common chronotypes which we are typically categorised into when it comes to our sleep type; lions, bears and wolves.
Lions like to rise and sleep early and are best known as the “morning people.” They typically like waking up at 6am and are asleep by 10pm.
Bears tend to rise and sleep a little later than lions, waking around 7am and going to sleep around 11pm.
Wolves are renowned for being the night owls among us. Given the choice, they would rise at around 9am - or later - and sleep between midnight and the early morning hours.
There are several contributing factors that determine our sleep type, the main one being our circadian rhythm.
What Is Circadian Rhythm?
Our circadian rhythm is another name for our body clock and is responsible for our sleep-wake cycle. It’s predominantly controlled by two factors; the day-to-night external 24-hour clock and our internal 24-hour clock. When these two clocks are in sync, sleep becomes much more manageable.
As the evening grows later, darkness triggers our bodies to release the sleep hormone melatonin, signalling to our brain that it’s time to prepare for rest. Similarly, our bodies suppress melatonin during daylight hours, helping us feel more awake and alert.
If your external and internal clocks don’t match, however, this will cause a delay in the release of your sleep hormones, preventing you from feeling tired, which results in a circadian misalignment. This is why many wolf chronotypes often experience sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia.
What Other Factors Influence Your Chronotype?
Alongside our circadian rhythm, there are a handful of other influences that can have an impact on your chronotype.
Age plays a significant role in our circadian preferences, and in certain phases of our lives, we can experience shifts in our internal body clocks. Typically speaking, infants and children tend to be lions, teenagers tend to be wolves, and adults can differ between all three depending on lifestyle.
Our environment determines how much or little artificial light we’re exposed to. Without this, we’re more prone to adapting to the natural morning-evening light patterns which occur throughout the day. That’s why reducing screen time before bed is advised for those who are struggling to get to sleep or wake up throughout the night. According to recent studies, “two or more hours of screen time in the evening can seriously disrupt the melatonin surge needed to fall asleep.”
Light is the primary influencer of our circadian rhythm, which is why light sensitivity is such an important factor worth mentioning. Just as our sense of smell and taste can differ from person to person, so can our light sensitivity. One study from Monash University revealed that one person’s light sensitivity can be 50 times higher than another’s. If you veer on the higher end of the light sensitivity scale, even the tiniest amount of light (natural or artificial) could hugely hinder your melatonin production.
In contrast, a friend or partner sleeping in the same room who isn’t as sensitive to light could fall asleep with no problems. With this in mind, investing in some blackout curtains or blinds is recommended to block out any early morning rays that might cause you to wake prematurely.
Take The Quiz: What Is My Chronotype?
Given the choice, what time would you like to wake up in the morning?
- Before 6am
- Between 6am and 8am
- After 8am
What time do you prefer to go to bed?
- Before 10pm
- Between 10pm and 12am
- After midnight
How do you feel upon waking?
- Fresh and full of energy
- Dozy, but after a coffee or tea, good to go
- Exhausted - I need a few hours to fully wake up
Compared to others, how much sleep do you need?
- Less: I feel fine on seven or so hours
- Around average: seven to nine hours
- More: I could sleep for ten-plus hours
When do you find yourself most productive?
- Early in the morning
- Between 10am and 2pm
- In the afternoon or evening
At work, how do others most describe you?
- A leader
- A team player
- A social butterfly
At work, what's your key strength?
- Leadership, vision and strategy
- Getting what needs to get done, done
- Creativity and unconventional, original ideas
Do you consider yourself:
- Future-oriented - always thinking about what's next
- Both future- and present-oriented
If you go out at night, how likely are you to stay out late to 10 or 11pm?
- Rarely - that's my bedtime
- Sometimes, perhaps once over the weekend
- Regularly - I love late nights
How would you characterise your overall health?
Do you find it easy to sleep sufficiently, exercise regularly and eat well?
- Yes - I'm renowned for it
- Sometimes yes, sometimes no
- Temptation usually gets the better of me
What's your biggest challenge?
- Saying no to others' requests
Mostly As - you’re a Lion
Mostly Bs - you’re a Bear
Mostly Cs - you’re a Wolf
Lions are known for being the early birds of the chronotype world. They tend to be natural leaders with proactive personalities and goal-oriented attitudes. Always thinking ahead and striving for perfection, their drive and determination often result in them being high achievers. A big fan of regimes, a lion typically enjoys following and maintaining healthy habits. As a partner and friend, lions are loyal and conscientious and are often referred to as being a 'good influence' on those around them.
Lions are early to rise and love a structured morning routine. With productivity peaking in the first half of the day, lions like to knuckle down and tackle the majority of their to-do list in the morning hours. Due to this, however, they’re often mentally zapped by the afternoon, so their evenings are dedicated to recharging before climbing into bed for an early night - so they can be nicely well-rested to do it all again tomorrow!
Grounded, level-headed, humble and dependable, bears are renowned for being dedicated team players who are often motivated by those around them. Enjoying a healthy work-life balance, bears are renowned for having a strong work ethic. You can always rely on a bear to get the job done. With a naturally caring nature, they like to keep everyone around them happy - often putting others' needs ahead of their own.
Bears are the middle-of-the-road risers, typically waking around 7am. Usually experiencing a little morning fatigue, before anything else, bears will often reach for a morning coffee to help them wake up. Productivity levels increase throughout the day until that daily 3pm slump hits. While energy slowly lifts again in the late afternoon, by the time evening rolls around bears are usually pretty tired. It’s not uncommon, however, for bears to also experience trouble switching off. By around 11pm it’s lights out, so you can be well-rested for the next day ahead.
As the night owls of us all, wolves can be sociable, fun-loving and outgoing but can also withdraw due to sleep deprivation, leaving them feeling stressed or anxious. At work, wolves' creative souls shine most when working on a project that they’re passionate about. On the flip side, they can be prone to procrastinate when it comes to completing mundane tasks. Wolves are spontaneous, uninhibited and enjoy exploring new places, people and experiences.
The later wolves can rise, the better, so slow mornings with time to unwind is their preferred way to wake up. Due to their creative flow kicking in more as the day goes on, wolves can continue working well into the later hours when absorbed in something. By the time evening rolls around, wolves feel energised - making this the perfect time to hit the gym or grab drinks with friends. Unless sleep-deprived, in which case wolves will happily retreat home for some chill time instead. Prone to late nights, their bedtime can lie between midnight and the early morning hours.
Discover Your Ideal Sleep Routine For Your Chronotype
Now that you know your chronotype, it’s time to tailor your sleep routine to align with this. By doing so, you can plan how to get the most out of your day, spending your time in ways that best suit your individual needs.
As a lion, you’re feeling energised and rearing to go as soon as you wake up. You may, therefore, feel tempted to jump out of bed and dive straight into your working day, however, if you can avoid this, do. Instead, use this time to start your day with some exercise or meditation. This will help to counteract any afternoon burnout later on, allowing you to balance your daily activities and free up your evening schedule.
Once this is out of the way, feel free to dive head-first into your most important tasks of the day. When it comes to your evening routine, by the time you’re home from work, it’s likely you’re already feeling pretty wiped out. Cue time to eat, unwind, enjoy a hot shower and be in bed for 9:30am, with lights out by 10pm.
As a bear, you don’t love mornings, but once you’re up and about, you can settle into the day pretty quickly, without any problems. Making use of energy boosters such as natural sunlight and caffeine will help to wipe away that initial morning brain fog. Your most productive hours are between 10am-2pm, so this is the ideal time to tackle your daily tasks.
For bears, short and frequent breaks throughout the day are recommended to help ease that inevitable 3pm slump. In the evening, you’re tired but wired, so ensuring you have a little activity planned into your evening will help you to switch off later on.
Whether this is cooking, doing laundry or enjoying phone calls with friends, the choice is yours. Aim to have your evening shower around 9pm - this will give you time to unwind before bed with an evening meditation session or some reading. Avoid screen time activities. Lights out between 10:30-11pm.
Wolves, due to sleep deprivation, you find mornings the most challenging - so a slow and steady start to the day is necessary for you. Exposing yourself to natural light as soon as possible will help to suppress your melatonin production, gradually making you feel more alert. With gradual being the operative word here, it’s essential to take some time to unwind with a relaxing activity such as meditation, journaling or yoga.
Your peak productivity times are between 12-8pm (or later), so adapt your schedule accordingly so that you can focus on your more important tasks for the day during this window. During the evening hours, you’re full of energy, so this is an ideal time to exercise or make time for socialising with friends. This will help to burn you out a little as bedtime nears closer.
Before your evening shower, dim all the lights so begin stimulating your melatonin production. Climb into bed at 10:30pm for some reading or journaling. Pop on an eye mask and have lights out for 11pm.
Top Tips To Improve Your Sleep
There are lots of common sleep saboteurs which many of us encounter on a regular basis. If you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping, here are 5 top tips to help you to achieve restful sleep.
Update Your Mattress
According to research from the Sleep Foundation, you should replace your mattress every 6-8 years. Investing in a quality mattress is a key component to a good night’s sleep. Whether you prefer something firm, soft, or somewhere in between, it should be comfortable and supportive for you to get those all essential zzzs.
Invest In Fresh Bedding
There’s nothing more relaxing than climbing into a bed full of freshly laundered sheets. Treating yourself to new bed linen and accessories, such as matching cushions and throws, can create an instantly cosy space that feels warm and inviting.
Consider Your Lighting
Light plays an integral role when it comes to controlling our sleep cycle. Switching from your main room lights to low-lit lamps will subconsciously help your body begin to prepare for sleep on an evening. To counteract morning light, installing heavyweight curtains or investing in a silk eye mask will keep the morning rays at bay, so you can enjoy hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to our sleep-wake cycle. On the one hand, it can give us the energy boost we need when fighting morning fatigue, but on the other, it really is one of the biggest sleep saboteurs there is. According to research, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 5+ hours after consumption. With this in mind, if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping, curbing your caffeine intake - or trialling cutting it out altogether - could vastly improve your sleep quality.
Discover More From DUSK
Are you looking for further tips and advice on getting the most out of your sleep routine? Check out our blogs; To Build A Tranquil Bedtime Routine To Improve Your Sleep and Get The Ultimate Night’s Sleep With Our Sleep Experts Top Tips.