Did you know that you have a chronotype? Did you know that there was such a thing as a chronotype? This weekend I’m thinking, like many of you, about the new year. I’m not making any new resolutions because I have plenty of past ones that were never resolved to keep me busy for a lifetime.
But today I am considering that part of my problem might be not knowing the best time to do things. I mean from the best time to have my coffee, to the best time to go for my exercise walk, to the best time to have sex. The answers vary according to your body’s chronotype.
You can find lots of self-help advice out there about WHAT to do and HOW to do it, but not much about WHEN to do it.
The when part has to do with your biology, hormones and the circadian rhythms of your body clock.
In the book, The Power of When by Michael Breus, you can “Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More.”
I’m not sure you can confirm all those times so easily, but it is certainly interesting to take his quick online quiz and see what chronotype you are supposed to be.
Are you a Bear, Lion, Dolphin or Wolf? Once you know, you can do some lifehacking on when to do different activities. I came out as a Dolphin.
Your chronotype is your biological clock. It is when your body naturally wants to do things like sleep, eat, exercise and work. Most of us fight our body’s internal clock because we follow the unnatural clocks and schedules that tell us it’s time for breakfast, time to go to work, time to get to sleep.
Circadian rhythm is your body’s 24-hour timekeeper. It regulates not only sleep but also body temperature, hormone levels, blood flow, and gut bacteria. It also ebbs and flows, so certain tasks done at certain hours will yield better results.
I have a habit of taking my prescription drugs in the morning, but it may be better to do it before I go to sleep. I don’t take any cholesterol drugs but they work better before bed because that’s when the liver also starts breaking down cholesterol, and the drugs can work in tandem with the body. It seems that blood pressure pills may have more impact at night because some people with hypertension don’t experience a natural dip in blood pressure when they sleep.
Your chronotype can shift as you age. No chronotype is “better” than any other and some things are shared across types. For example, when it comes to romance, for all chronotypes, 11 am to 2 pm is when bonding hormones are at their lowest. Forget that lunch date. Go for the dinner hours.
According to a study Breus cites, most people have sex between 11 pm and 1 am and that is the worst possible time. Late at night, levels of sleep-inducing melatonin rise and testosterone is at its lowest. When you wake up, testosterone levels are at their peak. Breus says, “I’d love for everyone to make a point of having Saturday-morning sex.” Set a reminder for next weekend.
Some of his advice I have heard before. For a long time I had heard that because we are more insulin-resistant after 3 pm,we don’t efficiently convert sugar to energy, and instead store it as fat. So, you should eat your big meal earlier as often as you can. Of course, that doesn’t fit in well with most working folks.
Of the four chronotypes (Dolphin, Lion, Bear, and Wolf), most people fit into the “Bear” category.
I haven’t tested the chronotypes theories out yet (New Year?) but you can take a start by taking Breus’s quick chronotype quiz to find out which one you are.
For Dolphin me I’m going to think about whether or not:
- My most creative time of day is between 10:00am and noon.
- My 4 key personality traits are: cautiousness, introversion, neuroticism, intelligence
- and my 4 key behaviors are: avoiding risky situations, striving for perfection, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, fixating on details.
- I already know that my “Sleep/Alertness Pattern” is that I usually wake up feeling unrefreshed (sleep apnea too) and I get an energy boost late in the evening.
- I’m supposed to be most productive: in spurts throughout the day.
- I agree that when it comes to naps, I try to catch up on sleep but can’t quite make it happen.
- My fellow dolphins are unihemispheric sleepers – one half of the brain shuts down while the other half stays alert. Not a bad thing if you want to prevent drowning and being eaten by predators, but a drag for those of us who are land dwellers in houses. Dolphins lie awake thinking about mistakes they’ve made. Sometimes we don’t know whether or not we actually slept at all.
I like those watery dolphins, but I’m not thrilled about being one. So long, and thanks for all the fish.