I just picked up this book, The Power of When by Michael Breus, PhD, at Barnes & Noble the other day. I was intrigued by the premise on the cover: Discover your CHRONOTYPE - and learn the best time to eat lunch, ask for a raise, have sex, write a novel, take your meds and MORE!
I'd like to think I'm a morning person, but who wouldn't want to boost their productivity and feel healthier and more well-rested? So I picked up the book which begins with a handy quiz to help you determine your Chronotype from the get-go. You can easily take the quiz by going to https://thepowerofwhen.com/ and clicking TAKE THE QUIZ.
After taking the quiz, which includes questions like:
The slightest sound or light can keep me awake or wake me up. True or False
Food is not a great passion for me. True or False
I usually wake up before my alarm rings. True or False
Breus walks us through the 4 primary Chronotypes (*note: I do wish there were more than 4, as I suspect some people may be "divergent" as the case may be, but this is what he says the research and his years of experience point to).
Chronotype 1 is The Dolphin.
Dolphins have 4 key personality traits: "cautiousness, introversion, neuroticism, and intelligence." Their sleep pattern is that of "wake up feeling unrefreshed and are tired until late in the evening, when they suddenly hit their stride. Most alert: late at night. Most productive: in spurts throughout the day. Naps: they try to catch up on sleep but can't quite make it happen."
Chronotype 2 is The Lion.
Lion personalities focus on "conscientiousness, stability, practicality, and optimism." Their sleep pattern is to "wake up bright-eyed at dawn or earlier, start to feel tired in the late afternoon, and fall asleep easily. Most alert: noon. Most productive: morning. Naps: Lions hardly ever nap. They'd rather be doing something useful."
Chronology Type 3 is The Bear.
Bear personalities are dominated by "cautiousness, extroversion, friendly and easy to talk to, and being open-minded." Their sleep pattern is to "wake up in a daze after hitting the snooze button once or twice, start to feel tired by mid-to-late evening, and sleep deeply but not as long as they'd like. Most alert: mid-morning into early afternoon. Most productive: late morning. Naps: Bears catch extra hours on the weekends, on the couch."
And last but definitely not least is Chronology Type 4, The Wolf.
Wolf personality traits are "impulsivity, pessimism, creativity and moodiness." Their sleep pattern is that "Wolves have difficulty waking up before 9:00 am (they do it, but they're not happy about it), are groggy until midday, and don't feel tired until midnight or later. Most alert: 7:00 PM. Most productive: late morning and late evening. Naps: Tempting, but if a Wolf sleeps during the day, he won't fall asleep at night. It's just not worth it."
In my experience with the quiz, I got bear (which is apparently the majority of the population: as per Breuss, "Bears are creatures of the sun. Their chronobiology follows the solar cycle, meaning that when the sun comes up, their hormonoal and cardiovascular systems respond, kicking their insulin, cortisol, and testosterone levels and their blood pressure and body temperature into high gear." Because 50% or so of the population are bear-types, that accounts for dinner being perceived as universally 6 PM, for instance.
The author helpfully outlines into each chronology types' perfect day (versus reality) and how you can optimize your sleep, nutrition, exercise and even creative thinking to make the most of your natural time alignment. He delves into the difficulty of socializing as a Lion (if your day is wrapped up neatly by 7 PM, going out for drinks when you're exhausted and want to go to sleep isn't easy) or working out to gain muscle (early evening for Bears, think 4-7 PM, to maximize results). Turns out that taking a warm relaxing bath or a brisk refreshing shower is a valuable tool for helping underline your Chronobiology type: baths help you go to sleep, while showers help wake you up.
As far as food is concerned, Breuss has 3 basic rules:
1. Eat within one hour of waking
2. Eat like a king or queen at breakfast, a prince or princess at lunch, and a pauper at dinner.
3. Take your last bite 3 hours before dinnertime.
Surprisingly, the worst time to have coffee? "Within two hours of waking. Within six hours of bedtime." There's fascinating research that Breuss outlines about cortisol and caffeine, and how you can maximize and avoid the interactions between the two.
What's the best time to ask for something? As per Breuss, pleasantness by Chronotype includes:
- Dolphin pleasantness peak: 4:00 PM.
- Lion pleasantness peak: 2:00 PM.
- Bear pleasantness peak: 6:00 PM.
- Wolf pleasantness peak: 8:00 PM.
Breuss also tackles additional important issues, like maximizing your creativity, your safety, and even financial success by positioning yourself to succeed at the best times of day for your Chronotype. Seasonal Affective Disorder - you'd think it's a big deal for those of us who are Bears, but it turns out it affects Dolphins and Wolves even more adversely. Fascinatingly, babies' pineal glands don't function until they are three months old, making it incredibly important for "Parents who use the power of zeitgerbers - morning light exposure, regular mealtimes - to establish a healthy sleep/wake cycle for babies." As children grow, toddlers become little Lions, then teenagers being predominantly Wolves who "can sleep until afternoon and stay awake long into the night."
This book is fascinating and I'd love to hear from other Chronotypes out there. Has anyone used the advice in this book to help cure their insomnia, improve their fitness or boost their productivity?