How Your Chronotype Impacts Your Sleep

Ana Marie Schick Jan 31, 2023

What is your chronotype

Have you ever thought, why is my performance so much better in the early morning than at night? What makes me able to get out of bed without an alarm clock, but my partner cannot wake up without hitting the snooze button four times?

And why am I exhausted at 9:00 PM, yet they are completely full of energy?

It’s simple. Chronotype. Everyone has one, most don’t know what theirs is, and most don’t realize its significant impact on day-to-day life.

Below we'll discuss the following:

What is a Chronotype

In simplest terms, a chronotype is your master internal clock; it functions as the natural inclination of your body’s need to sleep and wake at specific times. That sounds simple enough, right?

Well, not really.

Since humans are all different, we are predisposed to function better at different times of the day. We all have that friend that wakes up at 5 am and is full of energy but likes to go to sleep before everyone else.

And then we all know someone who burns the midnight oil each night and doesn’t wake until noon if they don’t have to. In short, it’s about different sleep needs. But short doesn’t do it justice. A chronotype is much more than just a sleep/wake preference.

Dig a little deeper, and we quickly discover that a chronotype is really a blueprint for every aspect of daily life. In addition to regulating a person’s sleep and wake times, a chronotype (an integral part of our daily circadian rhythms) has a huge impact on a person’s hunger, metabolism, immunity, creativity, and even core temperature.

Body Temperature Affects Your Sleep

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Three Distinct Chronotypes

While there are different philosophies and opinions around chronotypes, conceptually, the idea is the same no matter what the names of the chronotypes are.

Your chronotype is the inherent timeline you should follow for sleeping (and other activities like eating and exercising).

The Importance of Knowing Your Chronotype

Understanding our individual chronotypes is crucial to being the best version of ourselves. Based on our 24-hour circadian rhythms (our natural wake/sleep cycle), our chronotype plays a crucial role in our day-to-day life.

Additionally, to function at our best, we need to feel our best. As stated above, our chronotype tells us the best time to sleep, eat and exercise. It also helps us organize our working day, when it’s the best time to take our supplements, and when our brain is at peak performance. It actually makes life so much easier when we follow the natural inclination that our chronotype dictates. This allows us to keep ourselves in sync.

Knowing when we are at our best allows us to work with our body and mind rather than against them.

Benefits of Knowing Your Chronotype

  • Understand when you fall asleep.
  • A better understanding of the connection between sleep-wake time and mental health.
  • Help keep you on track with your eating habits.

The Three Different Chronotypes

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Our three chronotypes. The first two should be fairly obvious, but the last might come as a surprise!

Sunrise

These sleepers go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. They are your typical morning people or early birds. People who are true “Sunrise” chronotypes feel their best earlier in the day, with their energy levels lagging and dropping in the early evening.

Sunrise Chronotype

Those whose chronotypes are classified as Sunrise, on average, tend to sleep more than others.

Daylight

These sleepers are early bird/night owl hybrids that have flexibility. The most difficult thing about being a Daylight is that people with this chronotype tend to have trouble finding a sleep schedule that works best for them.

Daylight Chronotype

Having a Daylight Chronotype isn’t always easy, but on a positive note; Daylights are usually highly productive later in the day.

Nightsky

These sleepers go to bed later (and don’t necessarily wake up later). They tend to be the total opposite of the Sunrise chronotypes and makeup approximately 15% of the population. Those who are the Nightsky chronotype tend to sleep a lot less than their Sunrise counterparts. [1]

Nightsky Chronotype

For these sleepers, they tend to feel the effects of “social-jet lag.” The less our day-to-day schedules are in sync with our natural sleeping patterns and rhythms, the more stress our bodies and minds feel.

This is social-jet lag in a nutshell. Due to societal formation and its tendency to follow an earlier schedule, Nightsky are often exhausted and not sleeping as long as they need to.

Takeaway These three chronotypes are obviously a generalization of characteristics that one might fall into based on their innate inclinations for sleep and wake. There are spectrums within each of these three options.

The best part about knowing your chronotype is that we can help you improve your sleep based on this knowledge. That way, you can easily follow your body clock’s schedule, allowing you to sleep deeper and better and wake rested.

How Does My Chronotype Impact My Sleep Schedule?

No matter which chronotype you are, the most important thing is to create a strict sleep schedule to maximize the quality of sleep you get. If you’ve ever experienced a second wind of energy at night, it might be because you missed your ideal sleep window.

Missing your ideal time to fall asleep affects your sleep latency—how long it takes to fall asleep—and negatively impacts how much deep sleep you’re getting on a nightly basis.

When we fall asleep later, it tends to cut into our deep sleep. This has a domino effect—deep sleep can start stealing from REM sleep. When we don’t get enough deep sleep we never feel rested. This isn’t ideal, especially over time.

Since body temperature plays such an important role in your personal sleep pattern, you can successfully use a sleep system to regulate your temperature during deep and REM sleep stages.

Deep, more restorative sleep can only occur when your body’s core temperature slowly drops. So giving it an assist can help you stay in the deep sleep stage for longer periods.

Develop Your Own Personal Sleep Recipe

In Tara's TEDx Talk, she discussed how it took her time to create her own sleep “recipe.” She views sleep as the perfect combination of the right ingredients, so once you know your chronotype, it's important to follow it. That way, you can optimize your sleep stages. Here’s a quick refresher on how to increase deep sleep; it further explains this point.

Bedtime

At bedtime, your brain releases melatonin, and your body becomes primed for sleep. To prepare for restorative sleep, it’s good to stick to nightly rituals, ones that allow you to unwind (in other words, limit electronics and screens before bed). Additionally, your body reaches its highest temperature around bedtime, which triggers your “sleep switch.”

Deep vs REM Sleep

Deep Sleep

Deep sleep is the most restorative stage of sleep, one where your core body temperature will drop to its lowest point. So many good things happen during deep sleep: spinal fluids wash toxins away from your brain, your DNA heals, your memories are filed and stored, and so much more.

REM Sleep

Over time, getting consistently good REM sleep strengthens your ability to learn, bolsters your memory, and leads to a more positive mood. During this stage you’re also starting to increase your core body temperature as it starts to warm up.

The key to developing your own personal sleep recipe is listening to your body, and preparing appropriately for bedtime. We recommend meditation, yoga, yoga Nidra, box breathing or journaling before bed to calm the mind and help set yourself up for a great sleep.

Below are blogs that can help with relaxation:

Can I Change My Chronotype?

Unfortunately, no. Due to the fact that your chronotype is genetically based (it links to your PER3 gene, the gene responsible for new cell division) you cannot change it, but as you age it can shift on its own.

In fact, most children are Sunrise, making them rise and go to sleep early. Over time though, patterns and habits change and children will invariably become the chronotype they are predisposed to.

Below are some ways to effectively work with your chronotype.

Flexible Work Schedule.

If you are a Nightsky, or Daylight, think about working in a role where your hours are less structured than the typical 8 am start. If possible, try to find a position that allows you to begin work when your energy is at its peak.

Take a Nap

Especially if working remotely. This might be easy to accomplish during your lunch break; just a quick 20-30 min nap, or a break away from your computer or work for a snooze might make you much more productive in the afternoons.

Read More: The Benefits of Naps

Routines are KeyConclusion

Knowing your chronotype can help you make the right choices to feel and be at your best. If you are a Sunrise, you are in luck as most of the world is on your schedule. If not, all hope isn’t lost to get the type of sleep you need to put your best foot forward every day.

Resources

[1] What is My Chronotype? (Chronotypes Defined). (2017, July 30) View Resource

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