Are you a wolf or a bear when it comes to your sleep schedule?

Go to bed as early as possible, wake up as early as possible. Work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No caffeine within six hours (actually, 10 hours) of your bedtime. Work out at some point, but not late enough to boost your energy levels before bedtime. No screens for an hour before going to sleep. Sleep between seven and nine, but ideally eight hours. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week. Sleeping is for the lazy and is only acceptable once in a while, preferably on the rainiest Sunday. If you have trouble falling asleep, add magnesium and/or melatonin supplements to your nighttime routine.

Striving to live by these practices is roughly equivalent to being a well-rested, productive, and successfully functioning human being since at least the dawn of the internet. After all, most of the world centers around this schedule.

People whose sleeping habits have not necessarily developed with this schedule are often given the simple advice to change them. Go to bed earlier or stop caffeine earlier, basically be more disciplined.

All of the sleep tips mentioned above are frequently quoted with good intentions, for good reason. Of course, you don’t need to have a doctorate to know how important it is to sleep well on a regular basis. With sleep being the foundation of everything from a well-functioning immune system to the mental clarity needed to get through the day, its importance cannot be overstated.

But is there really a better time to fall asleep and wake up? (Biologically, that is, not according to what society has decided is most responsible.) Some researchers studying why we sleep when we do have found that while circadian rhythms can be adjusted, our internal clocks may not be based entirely on our habits, but partly on our genetics.

Sleep specialist Dr. Michael J. Breus has devoted an entire book to this topic, The power of the moment. According to him, there are four main chronotypes, or inherent predispositions to feeling tired at a particular time of day – and it’s not just about early risers and night owls anymore, apparently. Instead, Breus stuck to mammals for the analogy: there are the early birds (lions), the nocturnals (wolves), the intermediates (bears), and the problem sleepers who probably need a little help (dolphins). But more than your sleep patterns, your individual chronotypes can also influence the times of day when you’re hungriest, most alert, and most active.

Breus argues that understanding your chronotype and adjusting your daily habits to capitalize on the times when you function best will make your days flow better and life less difficult, overall. Some research also shows that fighting our individual chronotypes could have negative effects on our health.

Although everyone’s individual sleep pattern is likely to change over the years, and yes, it is usually possible for people who do not suffer from debilitating sleep disorders to adjust their sleep schedules to suit their sleeping pattern. life, perhaps the secret to sleeping well isn’t necessarily more disciplined or regimented. Maybe it works with our natural tendencies instead of fighting them to optimize not only our sleep, but also our waking hours.

I usually have trouble going to bed early. Mainly because the evening is when I find it easier to be productive, but even trying to fall asleep before 11 p.m. is a challenge. As for the mornings? The number of days I fell completely asleep in a brightly lit lecture hall during my 9 a.m. college law class, even after a good seven hours of sleep, far exceeded the number of days I managed to stay awake, to give you an idea. Guess I’m stuck somewhere between a wolf and a bear, if you follow Breus’ classifications.

Still, I try to be a morning person, but to say that waking up early feels natural to me would be a reach. These experiences typically include scheduling 6 or 7 a.m. workouts, booking early available appointments, setting a series of aggressive alarms, and agreeing to early morning plans with friends, all for the purpose of forcing me to ignore the too dangerous snooze button. . Through these experiences, I’ve learned that getting out of bed will always suck, but being awake very early is an oddly peaceful mood booster (only once I’m past the point of falling back asleep).

Even with these measures, it usually takes a while for my brain to warm up enough to form a coherent sentence. To actually settle into a state of semi-focused flow and start scratching tasks off a to-do list takes… a little longer. Like, until most people would consider it an acceptable time for lunch.

With that in mind, I also do my best to enjoy my usual late afternoon and early evening productivity spurts and not feel too guilty on days when the snooze button takes over.

Maybe there’s something to be said for adjusting your schedule to your chronotype, but I still haven’t completely let go of my somewhat delusional aspirations to become a morning person. Mainly because I don’t know when the next powder day is going to come, and nobody wants to get caught in the back of the line because of the repeat button.

About John McTaggart

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