Did you ever wonder why the 8-5:00 workday never seems to work for you? No matter how much sleep you get, that 8:00 am start time finds you bleary-eyed and groggy. Then, just when you start cranking, your colleagues have abandoned you for lunch. Sound familiar?
The problem may not be how long you sleep and how long you work but when you sleep and when you work. That’s the argument author, psychologist, and board-certified clinical sleep specialist, Michael Breus, Ph.D. makes in his book The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype – and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More.
According to Breus, we all fall into one of four different categories of “chronotype.” Your chronotype is your genetically prescribed biological rhythm that regulates your sleep and wake times and other daily functions that rely on the ebb and flow of hormones, enzymes, and circulatory activity for their timing. Your chronotype determines the optimal times for you to workout, be creative, socialize, eat, drink – pretty much every activity that fills your day.
Working against your chronotype can feel like slogging through quicksand all day and all night long. But understanding your bio-rhythm and working with it can make you sleep better, work more efficiently, have more energy, and ultimately achieve more success in just about everything you do.
So, which chronotype are you?
Recognize yourself? Confirm your analysis by taking Dr. Breus’s quiz to find out which chronotype best describes you. Once you know your chronotype, you can determine the best times to do, well, everything – including sleep – for optimal performance.
Let’s look at some of Dr. Breus’s recommendations.
|Best times to…||Go to bed||Drink caffeine||Brainstorm||Make a presentation||Make a major decision|
(7:00am wake time)
1:30 – 3:30pm
|6 – 8 am
9 – 11pm
|4 – 4:30pm||3 – 11pm|
(6:00am wake time)
|8 – 10am
2 – 4 pm
|4 – 6am
8 – 10pm
|10 – 10:30am||6 – 11am|
(7:00am wake time)
|12pm – 2pm
(no caffeine after 2pm)
|7 – 9am
|5 – 5:30pm||5pm – 12am|
(6:30am wake time)
|8:30 – 10am
|5 – 8am
2 – 4pm
|4 – 4:30pm||4 – 11pm|
Unless you’re a bear, you may struggle to meet the demands of a normal workday, at least some of the time. Early start times, meetings scheduled when you’re in an energy slump, and close of business when you’re just hitting your stride – all can wreak havoc on your productivity and performance, not to mention your sense of well-being. But you don’t have to settle for less than optimal performance.
It is possible to nudge your bio-rhythms to more closely coordinate with your work schedule. Things like strategically-timed light therapy and caffeine fixes (see chart above) can help you adjust your genetically predisposed chronotype. But, Dr. Breus cautions that in many cases, simply adjusting your daily schedule and planning tasks for times that are optimal for your chronotype whenever possible may yield better results.
See Dr. Breus’s discussion of chronotypes and learn why knowing when to do something is as important as knowing how to do something.
Have you tried to change your bio-rhythm or your daily schedule to improve your sleep or work performance? We’d love to hear your story. Please share in the comments section below.
Check out these tips for taking on your mornings with ease.