With the strive for productivity and the addictive nature of platforms like Netflix and Facebook, many of us are burning the candle at both ends. Whether you are losing sleep to work, being kept awake by technology, or taking care of a loved one, the result is the same--you're tired and not functioning at your highest level. Mounting scientific evidence has proven sleep is essential to our health and happiness, yet some still sacrifice sleep to work a few more hours or watch the next episode of Stranger Things. What can you do to change your relationship with sleep?

Feeling rested is not as simple as lying your head down at night and closing your eyes or waking up early. Many successful people wake up at 5 AM, but trying to emulate their habits won't make you more successful. In fact, if you're not an early riser by nature, this habit will likely decrease your productivity and lead to burnout. Instead, you need to figure out your own chronotype or sleep cycle, and arrange your sleeping schedule based on when you work best. Here are the basics you need to know:

What are chronotypes?

According to Dr. Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor, a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, chronotypes describe the kind of sleep pattern each of us has. According to Breus we are genetically disposed to our chronotype and fighting it would be like fighting gravity.  In his book, The Power of When, he outlines four chronotypes. Each is illustrated with an animal that has the same sleep patterns.

  1. Lions naturally wake up early and tend to be highly productive in the morning. By early evening, they are so exhausted that they have to go to bed. For example, this could be the CEO who wakes up at 5 and is in the office before anyone else arrives.

  2. Bears comprise about half of all people are bears. We wake up in the morning, get into the office with everyone else, and go to bed at night. Most of the world's schedule functions based on this pattern.

  3. Wolfs, much like the name suggests, wolves are most active at night. This are the people that don't wake up or start being productive until the late hours of the afternoon and are often up all night working.

  4. Dolphins in nature, never fully go to sleep. Only half of their brains sleep at a time. People who have this chronotype are never fully rested. They might go in and out of sleep, causing them to feel restless and have trouble sleeping.

The key is to identify which chronotype you are, if you can't tell from these descriptions take The Power of When quiz. Since everything from diet, medication reaction, sex habits, and productivity are affected by chronotype, once you know yours, you can better plan and design your work and life. For instance, it doesn't make sense for a wolf to run the morning shift, or have a lion host late dinner parties, in both cases the people would be exhausted. When deciding how to use your time or delegate tasks, when to do them may be just as important as what you want to get done.

Published on: Jan 31, 2018