Sleep chronotypes: Your sleep cycle and productivity explained

Ever been called an early bird or a night owl?

These terms, also known as chronotypes, are used to determine your sleep and productivity schedules. Most experts agree that your chronotype is largely related to the PER3 gene that defines your circadian rhythm.

People typically fall into one of four chronotype categories: the bear, the lion, the wolf, and the dolphin. Knowing your chronotype may help you better understand how your body works. Here’s an overview of the four chronotypes so you can learn more about yourself and plan accordingly!

Much like their namesake, the bear chronotype typically has a regular sleep cycle of 8 hours at night. Bears usually wake and sleep with the solar cycle, and have no problem waking up in the morning or falling asleep at night. They are also most productive from before noon to early afternoon and should complete their most important tasks during this time.

After lunch, bears are prone to a lack of focus, which is why they should arrange to work on less important tasks then. If bear chronotypes fail to get enough sleep at night, they’ll also feel lethargic in the day and have difficulty concentrating. Getting enough sleep is crucial to bear chronotypes to have enough energy throughout the day.

Unlike bears, wolf chronotypes have difficulty waking in the morning but no trouble staying up to work when most people are asleep. Wolves usually have two bursts of productivity: around noon and in the late evening to night.

In the morning, wolves should start with lighter tasks, as they often need some time to get going before working on more complex tasks later in the day. They also take short breaks in the afternoon to unwind before their second productive sprint in the evening. Although wolf chronotypes often stay up to the early hours of the morning, they should try to sleep by midnight, so they can avoid feeling too lethargic when waking up.

Lion chronotypes are natural early risers, and sometimes even rise with the sun. They feel the most productive in the morning, and are able to start on intensive work right after they’ve woken up. Their productivity usually lasts until the early afternoon. As the day progresses, lions also progressively lose energy, feeling drained by the time evening hits.

An afternoon power nap helps lions recharge from their early start and sustains them with energy to work on less important tasks before the day ends. It’s also important for lions to have a routine to unwind and relax in the night before bed. This helps them sleep better to get their early start the next morning.

Dolphin chronotypes find it difficult to fall and stay asleep at night, and are easily woken by noise and light. Because of their irregular sleep schedule, dolphins feel tired throughout the day, which can also make it difficult to wake in the morning.

They are usually the most productive from mid-morning to early afternoon and should work on their most important tasks during this time. Short breaks to snack or take walks are also recommended for dolphins to regain energy and continue work. At night, dolphin chronotypes should avoid using their mobile devices. Instead they can try light reading or meditation to help them sleep better.


Of course, your chronotype isn’t the only factor that defines your sleep schedule. Your lifestyle, work habits, and even sleep environment all contribute to your sleep quality and productivity. Interested in learning more about how to plan your day according to your chronotype? Check out the video below!

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