Have you ever wondered why your partner practically leaps out of bed, while you need at least three coffees just to peel your eyes open? Or maybe you’re a ball of energy at midnight, while your friends are nodding off on the dance-floor?
Your sleep animal may be to blame. No, I’m not talking about counting sheep to help you doze off, or cuddling your stuffed teddy at night.
According to clinical psychologist Dr Michael J. Breus, everyone’s biological clock runs on a different schedule. In his book The Power Of When, he breaks down four different types of sleep chronotypes based on animals: lions, dolphins, wolves and bears. Figuring out which animal you are can help you determine the best time of day to sleep, eat, exercise and even have sex!
Are your loved ones amazed by your ability to jump out of bed early, bursting with energy? Chances are, you’re a lion. The king of the jungle wakes before dawn to hunt, while their prey is still sleepy. As they’re up so early, their energy tends to fade by the evening. Most CEOs and entrepreneurs fit the lion chronotype. They’re usually organised, analytical and natural leaders.
Your ideal day
5.30-6 am: Chug two glasses of water and eat breakfast as soon as you get up.
6-7.30 am: Have sex! This is when your sexual desire will be at its strongest.
12-1 pm: Eat lunch, but avoid heavy carbs. Go out into sunlight for a natural energy boost.
1-5 pm: Your alertness will start to fade but you’ll be more creative, so it’s a good time to brainstorm new ideas.
5-6 pm: Hit the gym.
6-7:30 pm: Have a low-carb dinner and one drink, if you like. Avoid any alcohol after 7:30, as your body won’t be able to metabolise it properly.
9:30-10:30 pm: This is your optimum time to wind down for bed.
Are your two favourite activities eating and sleeping? If so, you’re probably a bear. The mammals have the highest sleep drive of all the chronotypes. While they’re very active during the day, they prefer to sleep for at least eight hours a night. They wake in a daze and start to feel sleepy again by mid-evening. They’re hungry most of the time and snack whenever they can! Personality wise, human bears are friendly, loyal and easy to talk to.
Your ideal day
7 am: Jump-start your day by either having sex or taking a brisk walk around the block.
7:30 am-9 am: Have a hearty meal for breakfast, opting for high protein over carbs.
10 am-12 pm: This is when your concentration is at its peak, making it the ideal time to tackle any difficult tasks.
12- 1 pm: Do 30 minutes of gentle exercise before lunch, to speed up your metabolism.
1-2:50 pm: If possible, take a nap. But set an alarm so you don’t sleep any longer than 20 minutes.
7-8:30 pm: Dinner time!
8:30-10 pm: Turn off your screens and start winding down by reading or taking a hot bath. In your relaxed state, you should fall asleep by 11 pm.
If you’re a light sleeper, you’re probably a dolphin. The mammals sleep with only half of their brain at a time, while the other half is awake and alert. In humans, the dolphin chronotype is woken easily by slight sounds and disturbances. Dolphins are highly intelligent, but can be nervous, irritable and have a perfectionist streak. They usually make attentive, caring partners and hate conflict.
Your ideal day
6.30 am: The typical dolphin is awake at this time, but too tired to get up. Fight the temptation to press snooze and get up to do some light stretching instead.
7.30-9 am: Eat a high-protein breakfast of eggs, bacon or yoghurt. Stay away from carbs, as they’ll hit you like a tranquilliser dart!
9.30 am-12 pm: Having a coffee now will help you ease brain fog.
12-1 pm: Have a meal that’s one third carbs, one third fat and one third protein.
4- 6 pm: This is your most alert time of the day, so it’s a great chance to get stuck into a new project.
7.30 pm- 8 pm: Tuck into calming carbs for dinner, like baked sweet potato or a bowl of pasta.
8-8:30 pm: Indulge in some pre-bedtime sex to help you wind down for the evening.
11.30 pm: The dolphin’s low sleep drive means they only need around six hours, so this is a good time to hit the hay.
If you’ve ever been described as nocturnal, you’re most likely a wolf. In nature, the animals tend to hunt after dark. Human wolves usually struggle to wake up before 9 am, are groggy until midday and thrive in the late evening. They tend to risk-takers and are likely to enjoy a drink more than the other chronotypes. They are usually outgoing, insightful and creative.
Your ideal day
7-7:30 am: Most wolves struggle to wake up, so allow yourself two alarms with a 20-minute half-awake time in between.
7.30 am-8:30 am: Resist the urge to skip breakfast. Have a high-protein meal but hold off on drinking coffee until 11 am.
2-4 pm: After lunch is when your workday really starts, as you’ll be at your most productive.
6-8 pm: Use your evening energy boost to smash out a workout.
8-9 pm: Having dinner late will help prevent night-time snacking.
9-11 pm: Now is the perfect time to have sex.
11 pm-12 am: Start powering down for bed by switching off all screens. By following this routine, you should be fast asleep by 12.30.