Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can be a morning person. And that coworker who straggles into work late every day might just be doing exactly what they need to perform at their peak. According to sleep expert Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., we all have an animal alter ego corresponding to an internal biological clock called a chronotype. He and many others believe you can use a chronotype quiz to help you unlock your best potential.
Unlike the circadian rhythm, which can be trained to meet your needs, chronotypes are said to be innate. This is why understanding it can have life-changing benefits. Getting to know your chronotype will shed valuable insights into your personality, health, and quality of life.
Take our sleep chronotype quiz to discover whether you’re a bear, dolphin, wolf, or lion.
You can think of a chronotype as a classification system that is unique to your genetics. It can help you understand when you are most active during the day to optimize your sleep routine and boost your productivity. It’s like having a roadmap for your activity levels to know when you are most creative and when you can cut yourself some slack.
As well as being closely linked to genetics, your internal biological clock can also influence your sleep chronotype. Even though you may want to be a morning person, you might not benefit from it. Harboring your natural tendencies as a night owl may help you achieve more and live with greater purpose.
Most people can associate with one of four animal chronotype categories — bear, dolphin, wolf, or lion. Read on to discover the traits of the chronotype you may associate with the most.
Scientists began measuring individual chronotypes in the 1970s. Originally there were two major chronotype categories: ‘morning type’ and ‘evening type.’ Since then, the field has further developed, and now many accept that four chronotypes can be used to assess the sleep-wake preferences of humans.
Most people are bears. Between 50-55% of the population are most productive during the day, then slump in the evening. Stability is essential to bear personalities as they can get derailed after a late night during the week.
Bear chronotypes find it hard to bounce back when there is a disruption to their schedule. For bears, going to bed by 11 pm and waking up at around 7 am is essential for success.
Performance generally peaks for bears between 10 am and 2 pm, so this portion of the day is when vital tasks get done. After 2 pm, an afternoon slump can strike, so you’ll usually find bears reaching for an afternoon coffee to get through the day.
Bears tend to be personable, extroverted, and enjoy collaborating to get things done during the day so they can relax in the evening.
Around 10% of people present the sporadic habits of dolphins. Those who align with the dolphin chronotype have trouble sleeping and often suffer from sleepless nights. This is primarily due to having an irregular sleep schedule and a habit of overthinking. Dolphins tend to sleep as needed and don’t have a strict bedtime that they adhere to each night.
Since quality sleep is hard to come by for the dolphin chronotype, these sleepers wake up groggy and often take time to feel alert. Despite having difficulty sleeping, dolphins are highly intelligent and generally have bursts of creativity throughout the day. When inspiration strikes, dolphins can have incredible breakthroughs in productivity and creativity.
Dolphins are perfectionists and have the aptitude to tackle challenges with ease. They follow their intuition and think fast. Dolphins should take breaks and naps when required to sustain energy and protect the sleep cycle to avoid burnout and scatterbrain.
Those who share the introverted and creative wolf chronotype peak in performance late into the afternoon. Accounting for around 15% of people, you won’t find a wolf who is a morning person because they stay up late and enjoy working after hours.
Most wolves wake up late every day and snooze relentlessly. The extra sleep suits them well, as an unrested wolf can experience severe dips in performance if required to wake up too early.
Wolves struggle to be punctual. However, this does not mean they don’t get the job done. Wolves are known to be creative, insightful, and artistic. To optimize productivity, wolves should save essential tasks until the afternoon. Most wolves prefer to cruise through the morning and take their time to wake up and adjust to the day's demands.
As introverts, wolves can usually be left alone, and they don’t respond well if they are micromanaged or asked too many questions.
Up at the crack of dawn each morning, people who associate with the lion chronotype have the type of schedule many people admire. Around 15% of people are lions — they wake up early, sleep early, and have a lot of respect for their daily routine. Sounds like a dream, right? The thing about lions is that they are regimented and work hard to achieve their goals.
Lions are considered to be charismatic, full of energy, and are natural leaders. They have no problem being the first person in the office each day, and they avoid socializing during the week. Getting the best sleep possible is vital for lions. They generally wake up between 5-6 am every day, including weekends, so a strict bedtime is essential for their performance.
Most lions tend to start their day with a workout and then fuel up with a healthy breakfast. By the time they walk into the office, they are full of energy and hit the ground running. When the sun sets, most lions are exhausted and start preparing for bed much earlier than other chronotype personalities.
Many chronotypes can be linked to different sleeping habits. Some people struggle to sleep in, while others have a hard time waking up early. Your chronotype can also come into play in situations such as jetlag, leaving you to feel disoriented and extra tired.
The lion chronotype is an example of someone who may wake up early no matter what time they sleep. However, wolves struggle during the week because they have to get up for work sooner than they’d prefer. Understanding your chronotype can help with making insightful career decisions. Lion-types would not do well with an overnight shift, while wolves tend to struggle to work 9-5.
You can tailor your sleep schedule and bedtime routine according to your chronotype to ensure you can be full of energy when you really need to perform, and you can take a break when you are low in energy.
For example, since lions wake up before sunrise, going to bed at 9 pm each night will set them up for success. For bears, they can “recharge” on weekends but should still focus on getting more sleep during the week because it’s not possible to “store up” rest. In general, they should be in bed by 11 pm.
Dolphins should focus on having a bedtime ritual to help them unwind and sleep better. They don’t have a set bedtime but should try to sleep early if they feel tired or have routines to help them feel tired, like stretching or reading in bed. Wolves should be in bed around midnight so they can get up and function in the morning.
Certain chronotypes are more prone to different health issues, so being aware of this could benefit your health and lifestyle. One of the more significant benefits of using your chronotype is that you can reduce your stress levels by knowing when to focus and when to chill out.
Once you get your results from our chronotype quiz, you can use the results to gain valuable insights into your personality and peak energy intervals. But It’s also important to note that you can experience different chronotype classifications during different phases of your life. Consider re-taking the sleep chronotype quiz when your circumstances change.
If you still find that your results aren’t helping you sleep better or be more productive. Consider getting a new mattress or adding different ways to relax into your routine.