Photo courtesy of  Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

By Noah Rue

Americans, as a whole, aren’t getting a good night’s sleep. According to recent the National Sleep Foundation's inaugural Sleep Health Index, an alarming 45 percent of Americans report that poor or insufficient amounts of sleep have affected their daily routine at least one point in a seven -day period.

What may be most surprising about the Index’s findings, are that Americans report sleeping enough hours, but their quality of sleep is suffering.  

“Despite sleeping within the recommended [7.5 hours of sleep] a night, 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as ‘poor’ or ‘only fair,’” the study notes. “Twenty percent of Americans reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days.”

The source of sleep quality, experts argue, may not be in  how much you sleep, but rather, when you choose to sleep. This is what clinical sleep specialist, psychologist, and author Michael Breus argues in his recent work “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds and More.”

Breus makes the argument in his works that each individual is born with a certain chronotype, a biological rhythm that regulates your hormones and enzymes in such a way that makes you productive during certain hours and more likely to achieve a restful night’s sleep in others. According to his research, this means that, depending on your chronotype, you are more likely to be productive, creative, tired, hungry, and talkative during certain hours of the day.

“Working against your chronotype can feel like slogging through quicksand all day and all night long,” writes Andrea Pisani Babich, a sleep expert at Mattress Advisor. “But understanding your bio-rhythm and working with it can make you sleep better, work more efficiently, have more energy, and ultimately achieve more success in just about everything you do.”

According to Breus’ extensive research, Americans typically fall into one of four chronotypes:

  1. Bear Chronotypes represent about 50 percent of the population, and as such, the way our society functions is, for the most part, a result of their chronotype and their preferences. These people wake up near sunrise, are most alert in the mid-morning to mid-afternoon, and begin losing steam as the sun begins to set.

  2. Lion Chronotypes represent about 20 percent of the population, and are typically seen as what is sometimes known as an “early bird,” as they are highly motivated and alert very early in the morning. These are typically highly motivated and healthy individuals who like to turn in early at night.

  3. Wolf Chronotypes make up another 20 percent of the population. These individuals are typically viewed as creative, moody types who are very emotionally intensive. They tend to hit their stride in the evening and are more apt to stay up late and sleep in during the morning hours.

  4. Lastly Dolphin Chronotypes make up about 10 percent of the population. They tend to be light sleepers, or struggle with sleep issues overall. They tend to be perfectionists who are intelligent, albeit slightly neurotic when it comes to their work and are most likely to be up late at night. They’re almost more prone to sleeping for short periods of time throughout the day since they struggle with sleeping at night.

Sound familiar? If you’re still unsure, Breus makes it easy to determine which chronotype best suits you. Once you determine your chronotype, he argues, you’ll better be able to take control of not only your sleep schedule, but you’ll also be able to find ways to maximize your workplace productivity, have healthier interpersonal relationships, and live a more consistent and healthier life.