(AscendHealthy.com) – Most of us identify as either morning birds (or larks) or night owls. Our sleep-wake rhythms, or chronotypes, can affect how we function throughout the day, and we’re at our best when we structure our routines around them. Some researchers believe they’ve been shortsighted in defining just two types, however.
There may be additional chronotypes, each with its own impacts on a person’s routine. Those of us who are neither larks nor owls could benefit from insights on the proposed new categories. See what experts are saying about each type and how to use individual sleep-wake cycles to our best advantage.
Identifying Your Sleeping Style
Figuring out our personal chronotypes is as simple as tracking when we feel sleepiest and most awake. It’s important to look beyond when we wake up each morning and go to bed each night; we also need to consider when we’re most alert and productive.
Here’s the breakdown of the four chronotypes:
- Larks are most active in the morning and feel tired in the evening. They tend to rise early and go to bed early.
- Owls are sluggish in the mornings and at their most active in the evenings. They typically want to stay up all night and sleep much of the day.
- Swifts, or nappers, have early morning and late evening peaks.
- Woodcocks are most active in the late morning and early evening hours; they may peak in the afternoons.
By identifying the times when we’re most active and alert, we can determine the best ways to make the most of each day.
Optimizing Each Day
The professional and academic worlds tend to favor larks, so those of us who fall into the other categories often struggle to adapt our schedules. When we work against our individual sleeping patterns, we can suffer from “social jetlag,” or a perpetual state of sleep deprivation resulting from our efforts.
While most of us can’t change our internal clocks, we can strive to match our daily schedules with our peak hours. Some of us might even need to reconsider our career paths instead of suffering the adverse long-term effects of adjusting to schedules that aren’t serving us.
Listening to our bodies is important; if we’re seemingly doing everything else right but experiencing chronic insomnia and sleepiness, we may need to try something new. Night owls might consider night auditor, hotel management or freelance positions. Swifts may need to find employment that allows them midday siestas. Woodcocks are likely to do best in jobs that require their attention during the middle of the day; retail and marketing may be good fits.
We’re each unique, with our own daily rhythms. Each of us is at our best when we work with our bodies instead of trying to force them into other people’s patterns. By identifying and adapting our lives around our sleeping styles, we can optimize our time and make the most of each day.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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