Chronotypes explained – and how knowing yours helps you sleep better
POST-PANDEMIC, there has been a 59 per cent increase in Aussies reporting poor sleep.
Google searches for ‘why I can’t sleep’ has increased by 200 per cent.
Sixty per cent of us have insomnia symptoms – being unable to initiate sleep or waking unrefreshed for example – three times a week.
Needless to say, sleep tips are needed now more than ever.
However, rather than generic tips, wouldn’t it be ideal if the advice was catered to you – reflecting your genetics?
As in, the strategies take into account your biological make up, and thus, are more likely to be effective for you?
Well, well sleep deprived readers, that’s exactly what I am here to deliver – enjoy.
First though – we need to identify your sleep Chronotype – your circadian rhythm preference.
How can you know yours?
1. How alert am I upon waking?
A – alert
B – fatigued
C – absolutely exhausted
2. When is my peak productivity?
A – from the moment I wake until lunch
B – between 10am and 2pm
C – in the evening
3. If I had a choice, when would I get up?
A – around 6am
B – 7am or 8am
C – after 8am
The more As you have, the more you are the lion chronotype.
The more Bs, the more you are a bear.
The more Cs, the more you are a wolf.
So – how does this translate into helping you sleep better?
Quite simply, each chronotype has typical challenges, and thus taking this into consideration means some advice will be more relevant for you than others.
Top tips for lions:
IF you feel energised after six or seven hours of sleep, feel free to get up – of all chronotypes, you have the shortest sleep need: sleepiness promoting hormone adenosine dissipates faster in your body compared to wolves and bears; which means you feel more rested on less sleep.
Second to that, many lions have a mutation in their DEC2 gene: research shows those with this variation naturally sleep 6.25 hours – shorter than those without the gene, who typically sleep for 8.06 hours.
This ensures when you’re in bed, you’re actually sleeping – rather than tossing and turning.
Second to that, as lions are typically high performing perfectionists, who can encounter stress, start your day with meditation: research shows a single session of mindfulness meditation can lower stress and anxiety.
Top tips for bears:
BEARS are characteristically known to have a 3pm slump – and will probably seek out a coffee to get their second wind. One word: don’t.
Even six hours before bed, a clinical trial noted caffeine can reduce sleep length by more than one hour, and double the time taken to fall asleep.
Instead, do some exercise – research shows just 15 minutes of stair climbing was able to enhance energy more so than an espresso.
Top tips for wolves:
AVOID sleeping-in: research shows 68 per cent of wolves sleep in for two hours or more when given the opportunity; compared to lions.
This misaligns the circadian rhythm: melatonin onset is later that evening, making it harder for you to fall asleep at a normal time.
This may not be a problem over the weekend per se, however, it is come Monday morning – you’ll not only have probably stayed up late and have woken with insufficient sleep; you’re also more likely to be fatigued upon waking as your melatonin levels will be higher than normal.
To catch up on sleep debt, take a 30 minute nap instead – just make sure it’s at least six hours before bedtime.