I am most definitely a night person. My creative juices flow best at night and I discovered this a while back. Some of the best ideas that have come to me, with writing and with art, have happened at night. This has led to a lot of confrontation with my mum because while she’s busy sleeping, I’ll always be awake in the living room creating or brainstorming new ideas. The problem is, I don’t exactly hate mornings either. I can sleep four hours and if need be, I will be up and running the next day.
The concern is that this lack of adequate sleep may just be affecting me. We have argued about it over and over again but never seem to reach a middle ground. According to her, night is for sleeping and there’s no debate about it. Luckily, I recently found some evidence to back me up: the concept of the four sleep chronotypes.
Your chronotype is a classification of when your genetic propensity is to sleep. I’m sure you’ve heard of people who cannot stand mornings. They’re extremely moody and everything annoys them. At around 11 am, they start to cheer up and feel more alive. For others, morning is the time when they’re most active. They are able to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and get a lot of things done by midday. It works perfectly for them. Others are most productive at night. In short, people have different biological clocks. Companies that have accepted this reality have given people shifts based on the time when they’re most productive. Whether the theory is true or false is yet to be proven but I am a firm believer.
In his book, The Power Of When, sleep expert Michael Breus says that “When you work against your natural inner schedule, you’ll sort of have the feeling like you’re permanently jet-lagged. But when you work with it, you can sleep better at night, feel more energized during the day, and unlock your hidden potential”
Here are the four chronotypes, and how to use them to boost your productivity:
Dolphins are often diagnosed as insomniacs. They sleep with half of their brains on at night, and usually do not get a full night’s sleep. While Dolphins seem to operate perfectly well, it may just be affecting their overall well-being. On top of this, they are light sleepers, meaning that any slight sound, movement or light will wake them up immediately. Their productivity reaches its peak at around midmorning but they are always a little tired. This sleep chronotype is one of the rarest. The people belonging to this group are generally highly intelligent. However, they can be seen as uninterested during social interactions.
It has been suggested that Dolphins turn their screens off in good time so that the rays of light don’t add on to interfere with their sleep patterns. On top of this, the sleep expert Dr. Breus advises that dolphins should exercise first thing in the morning, before eating a high-protein breakfast. Because their energy peaks in the afternoon, they should also try their best to spend their mornings to meditate and brainstorm and then leave the afternoons for activities.
Isn’t it annoying when people have too much energy in the morning? You know those people who will be singing and dancing happily as soon as they wake up? Meet the lions. Lions are early risers. They thrive in the morning and are most productive during these hours. They are able to complete a lot of work before midday and have an advantage over others. Lions may seem to be the most productive because while others are still struggling to get out of bed, they have completed a million tasks. For this reason, lions are natural leaders: They stay on top of their tasks and have higher output.
I’ll be honest, I envy the Lions. I have a theory that Lions are the happiest people in life because they start their day on a good note. However, this energy drains just as fast. By afternoon, they may even seem lazy, and by evening they are completely fatigued.
Dr. Breus suggests that Lions should eat and hydrate when they wake up, before planning out the rest of their day. Unlike the Dolphins, their morning is best spent on analytical tasks, and the afternoon on brainstorming and journaling or other creative activities.
If it isn’t too obvious, Wolves are the night owls. This group of people love to stay up late into the night. Their brains just seem to be more active during this period. In short, they are nocturnal. Naturally, this means that Wolves wake up later than normal people and cannot stand mornings because they’re still tired. This sleep chronotypes fits a lot of creatives such as writers or artists. The character traits that are associated with this sleep chronotype include the introspective and introverted.
If you fall under this category, I would suggest that you make the most out of it. Spend your nights creating and expanding your knowledge. Since Wolves don’t reach their mental peak until later in the night, it has also been advised that they spend their day brainstorming and analyzing, and then once the night kicks in they can start to execute these ideas.
Bears represent the largest population on earth. This sleep chronotype is characterized by people who actually follow the solar cycle. They require 8 hours of sleep. They are most productive during mid-morning hours and start to feel tired in the afternoon. If they fail to get enough hours of sleep they will start to act and feel lethargic during the day. The people who fit into this category are extroverted and have a continuous flow of mellow energy.
For this sleep chronotype, the “sleep doctor” Michael Breus suggests that they should eat a high protein breakfast. He also suggests that they should make the best use of their morning and mid-morning hours before the afternoon slump starts to kick in. Creative tasks should be saved for the afternoon.
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