The afternoon-evening is often deemed the “best” time to train, but this doesn’t account for the 4 sleep chronotypes. The 4 sleep chronotypes are categories within which each individual fits according to how certain variables manifest in them. These can easily outweigh said factors and shift this supposed “ideal time” to train elsewhere in the day.
So Which Of The 4 Sleep Chronotypes Are You? And How Should Your Routine Account For It?
In this article we’ll look at the 4 sleep chronotypes, laying out the details regarding what they are and what it entails to be each one. From ideal workout times to the ideal moments throughout the day to focus on creative endeavors, productive pursuits, or simply unwind, we’ll cover what valuable changes can be made to your routine according to what you’ll learn here today.
The First Sleep Chronotype: The Bear, For Mid-Day Workouts
The most common chronotype, the bear’s qualities gives us an idea of why the “normal” schedule is what it is; they’re most at ease adhering to the solar cycle, they sleep at a “reasonable” time in the evening as well as starting the day bright and early. This also segways into an overall productive day, save a slight slump in creative & productive output around 2-4 pm. On the flip side, though, this presents a golden window of opportunity.
In that two-hour slot, the bear finds it’s mind in a prime state to take on a task such as working out, and the body in the midst of the energetic peak of the day. Not to mention, that by allocating this slot to working out, the prime mental acuity hours of the day can be reserved for work or other matters more demanding in that area.
A typical bear day could look something like:
- 7am: Rise and Shine
- 7am – 8am: Freshen up, breakfast, getting ready for the day
- 8am – 10am: Lighter, less demanding tasks, a “warm-up “ of sorts
- 10am – 2pm: Deeper, more important work, the priority of the day
- 2pm – 4pm: Optimal time to train
- 4pm – 6pm: Last few work related tasks for the day
- 6pm – 10pm: Free time for any and all other activities
- 10pm – 11pm: Wrapping up the day, prepping for bed
- 11pm – 7am: Sleep
If you find the description of the bear chronotype to be one you identify with, give this routine a try. It could just be the re-alignment you need to boost your efficiency even further.
The Second Sleep Chronotype: The Wolf, For Evening & Night Training
The most nocturnal chronotype, those who fall into the “Wolf” category find themselves as far from “morning people” as one can be, this period of the day proving to be the hardest, leaning more into the night hours and slowly ramping up in productivity as the day goes on (often relating to those “Me during the day vs Me at 3am” memes). It’s often recommended that they immediately start their day with a stimulating activity, such as a 20-min walk and some coffee afterward, to kick things into motion.
The Wolf’s day is most productive moments come in spurts, as opposed to the bears more consistent flow, with an initial bout during the early afternoon, and another later on in the evening. If you find yourself more aligned with the Wolf chronotype, then shifting your schedule a few hours further into the day may be just what you need for everything to fall into place and flow that much smoother
A typical wolf day could look something like:
- 9-10am: Wake up
- 9-10am – 11am: Morning walk, coffee, and a light & easy task to get the day on the right track
- 11am – 12am: Lighter, less demanding tasks, ramping up into the first productive burst
- 12am – 2pm: Deeper, more important/creative work
- 2pm – 5pm: Another bout of lighter, less demanding tasks
- 5pm – 7pm: Second burst of higher productivity, finishing off the work day strong
- 7pm – 9pm: Optimal time to train
- 9pm – 12am: Relaxing, leisure, time to yourself
- 12am – 1-2am: Winding down, getting ready for bed
- 1-2am – 9-10am: Sleep
For many this seems oddly late for something that would actually be recommended as an ideal schedule, but for the Wolf, accepting that inclination towards the later hours and leaning into their strength is just what needs to be done.
The Third Sleep Chronotype: The Lion, For Morning Workouts
Those relating with the Lion chronotype the most are the ones alluded the expression “The early bird catches the worm” alludes to, beating out the bear in terms of the earliest riser of the 4 sleep chronotypes. The epitome of a “morning person”, the Lion finds the beginning of the day to be the most invigorating, and gradually winds down as the day progresses, with the mid-day portion being an especially grueling one, sometimes even prompting a nap depending on the person.
This tells us that the sooner their workout is gotten out of the way, the better, regardless of whatever metabolic factors were to boost strength or power output; those can’t really be ut to good use if you’re mentally checked out come time to train.
The day of this chronotype tends to be more gracefully simplistic in nature, with their energy simply counting down with each hour until the day is done. An example of an optimized Lion schedule would look something like:
- 6am: Wake Up
- 6am – 8am: Workout
- 8am – 12pm: Focus on deeper, more demanding work
- 12pm – 4pm: Begin winding down, tackling gradually less demanding tasks
- 4pm – 9pm: Relax, enjoy personal time, slowly ease things to a halt
- 9pm – 10pm: Tying the knot on the day and getting ready for bed
- 10pm – 6am: Sleep
Best suited for the box we often find ourselves pushed into by social conventions and established work schedules, the Lion has what it takes to thrive in environments that the rest find themselves struggling with that little bet more. If this is you, make use of that pre-disposition.
The Fourth Sleep Chronotype: The Dolphin, For Afternoon Training
The Dolphin chronotype, similar to the Lion, benefits more from a stronger start earlier in the day, with the main difference being that while the Lion can also manage somewhat at night, for the Dolphin it’s best to avoid high intensity training later on as the yield will not only be lesser, but the rest of their day would be impacted also. Starting off with perhaps some easier tasks to get them into the swing of things, the Dolphin would want to put a little time between sleep and their workout, but only a touch more than the Lion does.
Unfortunately, Dolphins typically struggle with a degree of background fatigue, often due to their anxious sleeping behaviors. This subsequently can lead to an inability to achieve quality rest at night, struggling to even get to sleep to begin, as they’ll often “give out” rather than purposefully preparing for bed. For this reason, short power naps can often prove useful to them, similarly to the Lion, in order to maintain a solid productivity output throughout the day.
A typical Dolphin day could look something like this:
- 6am: Wake Up
- 6am – 8am: Start the day handling some less demanding tasks, getting the ball rolling
- 8am – 10am: Workout
- 10am – 4pm: Focus on the bulk of the days work, and it’s more demanding tasks
- 4pm – 5:30pm: Nap
- 5:30pm – 9:30pm: Begin winding down, enjoying personal time, bringing things to a halt
- 9:30pm – 10pm: Prepare for bed
- 10pm – 6am: Sleep
Another schedule seemingly contrarian to a lot of what we’re often told, but we must remember that general advice appeals to the majority, and so, if you’re finding yourself identifying with the Dolphin, which represents only 10% of the population, general advice just isn’t for you.
How to Properly Make Use of This New Information About Your Chronotype
Sleep, of all things, isn’t something that we often consider customizing. It’s the general consensus that there’s an ideal way to do it, and that we ourselves do best aiming for that standard. But, with sleep as with many things, this simply isn’t the case. Every person is unique, and while in 90%+ of things we are practically identical, but that last ~10%, such as the 4 sleep chronotypes, changes everything.
Following general advice will only get you so farther, and more importantly will actively hold you back from fulfilling 100% of your potential. Are you eating as well as you could? Training as often, to the optimum degree? Do you even know what it would entail to achieve those things? There’s no shame in your answer being “No”, because unless you’re an expert, that’s exactly what it should be. Anything else is hopeful at best and ignorant at worst.
But you don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits an experts knowledge comes with, all you have to do is find one that can help you. Click here, and end that search before you even have to start it.