QWERTYdelight would like to invite you on a stroll through the animal kingdom, where four different “sleep chronotypes” are represented by four different animals.
As you’ll soon find out, each chronotype below follows a very unique sleep/wake cycle that perhaps mirrors your own.
But before we dive in (like the dolphin), let’s recap what “circadian rhythm” means and how it can affect your internal clock.
MORNING PERSON VS. NIGHT OWL
Does your circadian rhythm follow the beat of the rising sun?
Or does it vibe better with the moon?
Although the sleep/wake cycles of most humans prove that we’re a diurnal species1 — that’s to say, we are most productive during the daytime when light is abundant — this doesn’t mean that every human’s internal clock is synchronized to the rising and setting of the sun.
In fact, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School acknowledges different circadian rhythms, some slower than others.
According to them, “genes influence how fast or slow our internal clock runs and, as a result, how closely our body’s functions align with the 24-hour day.”2
In light of this information, a California-based “sleep doctor” named Michael Breus categorized a person’s sleep/wake cycle into four distinct sleep chronotypes:
The Wolf. The Dolphin. The Lion. And The Bear. (We know this sounds like the title of a C.S. Lewis novel, but please bear with us… pun intended.)
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to figure out which spirit animal best represents your circadian rhythm.
These findings are based on each animal’s daily productivity scale and the sleep pattern it follows within its own unique habitat.
THE WOLF CHRONOTYPE
This is not a morning wolf.
As you can see, the sun is blaring down on her furry back and yet she prefers to catch more ZZZs until noon.
Due to this early afternoon rise, the wolf’s productivity peak is typically between 12 PM and 4 PM.
So, if you have a hard time waking up in the morning and feel more energized in the evening, your sleep chronotype is of the Canis Lupis variety (aka Latin for “wolf.”)
This chronotype represents about 15 to 20% of the population.
THE DOLPHIN CHRONOTYPE
Dolphins are so friggin’ cute!
They’re also lousy sleepers on account of their hypersensitivity to external stimuli, such as light and noise.
As a result, these sleek swimmers follow an irregular sleep pattern, dozing off for two to four hours at a time throughout the day when disturbing factors like loud sounds and bright light are minimal.
About 10% of the population fall into this sleep chronotype, including insomniacs and those who are frequently roused from sleep due to the slightest changes in noise or light levels.
THE LION CHRONOTYPE
The king of the jungle is an early riser and can sustain bursts of energy well into the early evening, unlike most humans who experience a mid-afternoon slump (especially after lunch!)
The lion chronotype is most productive in the early morning and typically winds down around 8 PM.
By 9 PM, he sets out to dreamland and undergoes a long stage of deep, restorative sleep.
Roughly 15 to 20% of the population roars at the crack of dawn and snores soon after dusk.
THE BEAR CHRONOTYPE
Hibernation aside, the sleep/wake cycle of bears follows the rising and setting of the sun like most humans.
Bears also experience a sluggish afternoon period, but they can gain a second wind after a nice power nap.
This sleep chronotype awakens fairly easily around 7 AM, is most productive in mid-morning and has little to no problem falling asleep between 10 PM and midnight.
About 50% of the population catches the “bare necessity” of sleep like this chronotype, which is roughly eight hours within the 24-hour cycle.
WHAT’S YOUR CHRONOTYPE?
So, now that we’ve covered the four different sleep chronotypes of the animal kingdom, which one are you?
If you’re not quite sure yet, check out our nifty chart below summarizing each chronotype’s sleep/wake cycle and review where you might fall in the animal “sleep” chain:
Have you figured out which one of these sleepyheads best represents your circadian rhythm?
If so, let us know in the comments section below, because if you’ve read or skimmed this far, you’re probably at the most productive peak of your day, amirite?
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- (2019, Oct 15) Did early mammals turn to night life to protect their sperm? University of Chicago Press Journals. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191015131505.htm#:~:text=Humans%20are%20diurnal%20%2D%2D%20we,dinosaurs%2066%20million%20years%20ago.
- (2007, Dec 18) Individual Variation and the Genetics of Sleep. Harvard Medical School. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/variations/individual-variation-genetics#:~:text=The%20circadian%20rhythms%20generated%20by,determined%E2%80%94at%20least%20in%20part.