Pranay Saha, a Mumbai-based graphic designer, would follow the early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine to meet deadlines. Being a night owl though, tackling important tasks in the morning drained him creatively and physically. Productivity faltered. It was only in the second half of the day that he would feel more alive.
While surfing YouTube one day, he learned about chronotypes, which decide the body’s natural preference for rising from bed and sleeping hours. Every individual has a different chronotype influenced by genetic makeup and circadian rhythm. There are four of them, and his was the ‘wolf type’—more productive in the afternoon and evening than morning.
This helped Saha to readjust to his natural rythm by going to bed around 12:30 am and waking at 9 am, with peak productivity periods being 12 noon-4 pm and 7-9 pm. It boosted his creativity, energy and sleep quality, which did wonders for his work.
“Inherently, most children have an early chronotype; it often shifts to a later one in adolescence, then returns to an earlier one in adulthood. Transitioning from one type to another may be difficult unless biologically adjusted with age, which is why it is advisable to identify one’s type and sync routines accordingly,” says Dr Ayushi Shukla, somnologist and psychiatrist at SRV Hospitals, Dombivli, Maharashtra.
Here are the four chronotypes to channel your inner beast.
Comprising about 15 percent of the population, people under this category are early risers and most productive in the first three hours after waking up, when their agility, mental coherence and motivation are the highest. “The Lion likes to maintain a consistent sleep routine and may have difficulty adjusting to night shifts. These go-getters thrive in a structured environment where work, home, leisure and rest are neatly compartmentalised. They are exemplary planners and organisers given their meticulous nature,” says Dr Shukla.
General temperament: Consistent and disciplined, make for good leaders
Chrono hack: Even though these people can work extended hours without feeling the need to stop, short power breaks can help them re-energise.
Known for their half-brain slumber sleeping method, Dolphins keep one hemisphere of their brain awake to remain vigilant. The resultant sleep anxiety prevents them from resting on time and waking up early. But once they are awake, there’s no stopping them. They have a remarkable ability to not just make the most of wakeful hours, but tend to do crucial tasks at night with the same level of focus. Approximately, 10 percent of the population falls under this category. The Dolphins are known for their bursts of energy during mid-morning and late afternoon. “They are agile, proactive, and excel in critical thinking and problem-solving,” says Bengaluru-based Arouba Kabir, mental health counsellor and founder of Enso Wellness, who also specialises in sleep disorders.
General temperament: Sharp-minded, known for their sporadic bursts of productivity, easily distracted due to sleep anxiety
Chrono hack: Strategic napping can go a long way in improving focus without impairing nighttime sleep.
Close to 55 percent of the population falls under the Bear chronotype. For them, quality sleep is important, especially one aligned with the conventional light-dark cycle. “For these high-energy extroverts, a good night’s sleep enables them to make their waking hours productive. They don’t have difficulty waking up early and their peak cognitive period starts as early as 30 minutes after leaving bed, lasting until noon. It is only post-lunch that the Bear experiences a slump, usually between 2 to 4 pm, when drowsiness takes over.
A quick nap or an express workout can help with it,” says Dr Shukla.
General temperament: Outgoing, enthusiastic, a strong preference for consistent routines.
Chrono hack: Creating a comfortable sleep environment to be able to fulfil the seven- to nine-hour restorative sleep requirement will be helpful.
Contrary to conventional sleep cycles, the wolf prefers to wake up late and make the most of the afternoon or evening hours. “They require more sleep than others and often need a strong jolt to push them out of slumber in the morning. This is a function of their genetic variation related to the PER3 gene that delays the sleep phase. They can also be sensitive to artificial light that further impacts their circadian rhythms,” says Kabir. Comprising 20 percent of the population, this segment is known for their creative aptitude, but can also be quite impulsive.
General temperament: Insightful, non-conformist, risk-takers
Chrono hack: Make sure not to skip breakfast as it can affect the sense of inertia and stupor. The meal provides essential energy to combat sluggishness. Consider scheduling important meetings and discussions for the latter part of the day.