Understanding and prioritizing your sleep cycle will undoubtedly boost joy and productivity in your life. It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep will give you energy for the next day and contribute to your productivity, but not everyone’s sleep cycles are the same. Sleep patterns vary from person to person based on age, activity levels, and sleeping conditions, so it’s essential to find a routine that works for you. Chronotypes help you understand your sleep patterns and productivity schedules better, so you can make the most of your day.
There are four chronotypes, and each is unique to your sleep patterns. Sometimes life can get so busy that you forget to prioritize sleep, but productivity experts will tell you that 8 hours of sleep is the best thing you can do for your work and for yourself. The secret to finding your focus is tailoring your sleep cycle to a specific chronotype; your sleep schedule should be a reflection of you — nobody else. Everyone is different, and what works for your uber-productive manager might not work for you. Pay attention to your sleep patterns and follow along with the 4 chronotypes: Bear, Lion, Dolphin, and Wolf.
Chronotype #1: Blissful Bear
As you have probably gathered from the namesake, bear chronotypes need their sleep to feel productive throughout the day and maintain their happy-go-lucky energy. The bear follows the solar cycle and typically doesn’t have any issues falling asleep at night and waking up with the sun. The bear chronotype schedule can vary based on your habits, but if you want to boost productivity, try sticking to the following calendar.
Bear Chronotype Schedule:
7 a.m - 8 a.m: Rise and shine
10 a.m - 2 p.m: Focus on deep work
2 p.m - 4 p.m: Time to work on lighter tasks
4 p.m - 10 p.m: Take a step back and relax
10 p.m - 11 p.m: Wind down and get ready for bed
11 p.m. - 7 a.m: Sleep
Identifying as a bear chronotype is all about realizing your limits and listening to your body when you need a rest. If you want to keep up your productive momentum, you shouldn’t try to push the mid-afternoon recharge period. Instead, when you feel yourself falling into a slump — take a break — then return to your work when you feel well-rested and ready to jump into a challenge. Roughly half the population falls into the bear category, and these individuals are generally extroverted and have an infectious energy that leads conversations. If you’re an extrovert with the bear chronotype, engage with other people when you’re feeling low energy to boost yourself back up.
Chronotype #2: The Wandering Wolf
Wolf chronotypes only account for 15% of the population and are most well known for their ability to work into late hours of the night. If you’re notorious for hitting the snooze button in the morning, you might identify yourself as a wolf. This chronotype is likely to feel groggy in the morning and produce their best work late in the afternoon. Wolves should start their day slowly, gathering the momentum they need for their two energy spurts later in the day. Unlike most people, wolves can hone in on their creativity and talent for solving complex problems after the typical workday has ended: the first spurt of energy coming around noon and the next starting around 6 pm. Wolf chronotypes have an unusual schedule, but following the normal 9-5 isn't the best way for these individuals to boost productivity.
Wolf Chronotype Schedule:
7:30 - 9 a.m: Rise and shine
10 a.m - 12 p.m: Focus on lighter tasks
12 p.m - 2 p.m: Take on creative or challenging tasks
2 p.m - 5 p.m: Work on less intensive tasks
5 p.m - 9 p.m: Engage in deep work
9 p.m - 10 p.m: Time to unwind
12 a.m - 7:30 a.m: Sleep
Wolf chronotypes are destined to live up to their creative genius and utilize the night to be introspective and innovate. If you’re someone that craves alone time and finds your best ideas floating around in the middle of the night — you might be a wolf chronotype. Wolves tend to be makers — designers, coders, writers, or artists. Make sure you pay attention to when you feel your most creative and allow your innovative qualities to flourish. Wolves: you’re not like everybody else, and staying up past the typical bedtime might do wonders for your productivity.
Chronotype #3: The Determined Dolphin
Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures and never wholly shut their brain off — dolphins sleep with half their brain awake to stay aware of their surroundings and potential predators. People with this chronotype act similarly; with brilliant minds, dolphin chronotypes can come across as distant because they are often envisioning ways to make a difference in their work. Dolphins are slow in the morning, but their productivity peaks around mid-morning once they get going. Follow the Dophin Chronotype sleep schedule to amplify your productivity and find your focus.
Dolphin Chronotype Schedule:
6:30 a.m - 7:30 a.m: Rise and shine
8 a.m - 10 a.m: Take on simple tasks
10 a.m - 12 p.m: Dive into deep work
12 p.m - 4 p.m: Complete less demanding tasks
4 p.m - 10 p.m: Relax, unwind from the day
10 p.m - 11:30 p.m: Get ready for bed
12 a.m - 6:30 a.m: Sleep
As the insomniac of the sea, dolphin chronotypes struggle to fall asleep at night and wind down their brain. Unfortunately, many dolphin types have anxious sleeping patterns and rarely get a good night’s rest, leading to a common state of tiredness. Dolphins need to honor their body when the bells ring that it’s time to shut things down and go to sleep. If you’re a dolphin, it’s probably best to turn off your notifications at the end of a workday to avoid reminiscing over the day's successes and failures, along with tomorrow's responsibilities — mute notifications and get the rest you deserve.
Chronotype #4: The Leading Lion
Lions have powerful leadership qualities and are often seen as ‘go-getters,’ never backing out of a challenge and taking on the responsibility of leading others with ease. This chronotype works best in the early morning, starting on whichever task scares them the most. Lions really are ferocious in their work style, and paying attention to sleep patterns will only intensify their power. Everything tends to run smoothly until they hit the mid-day slump and need time to recover and recharge — lions gain energy just as quickly as they lose it. Be the captain of your own energy and follow the Lion chronotype schedule to supercharge productivity.
Lion Chronotype Schedule:
6 a.m - 7 a.m: Rise and shine
8 a.m - 12 p.m: Dive into deep work
12 p.m - 4 p.m: Focus on simple tasks
4 p.m - 9 p.m: Daily unwind and relax
9 p.m - 10 p.m: Prepare for bed
10 p.m - 6 a.m: Sleep
15% of the population consider themselves to be lions. If you’re an early riser and you feel most energized in the morning, pay attention to the productivity schedule for lion chronotypes. Usually leading an ambitious team of innovators behind them, lions need to give themselves the rest they deserve and harness their talents in the earliest hours of the day.
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How to apply your chronotype to amplify productivity
If still can't find your sleep chronotype, take this quiz to find out!
Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie is a superpower when it comes to productivity, and paying attention to your sleep chronotype will help you find your focus. Knowing when to dive into deep work and when to take breaks will improve your efficiency and workflows. The first step to improving your productivity and listening to your chronotype is finding the right tools to help you do so.
Since bears work best in the morning and lose steam in the afternoon, you should be getting a good night's rest and prioritizing your sleep. Instead of pushing yourself past limits, schedule breaks in the late afternoon to recharge using Google Calendar, Clickup, or Outlook Calendar. Schedule your meetings in the afternoon so that you can block out your time in the morning for deep work.
Let your sleep chronotype determine your work schedule — pay attention to your most productive time of the day and stick to it! Avoid scheduling important meetings, company briefs, or creative work in the early morning hours. As soon as the sun goes down, the wolf hits its stride — so don’t limit yourself by a typical 9-5 workday. If that isn’t possible for you, try breaking up your day into smaller chunks and rest when you feel your focus starting to slip. If you’re looking to dive deep into the zone and flush out some creative ideas, turn on Brain.fm for curated music designed to inspire innovation.
If you’re a dolphin chronotype, schedule your most challenging tasks for the mid-morning and leave meetings or simple tasks for the afternoon. The best thing for dolphins is to conquer one thing at a time and pay attention to when you feel most creative. Dolphins generally have a lot going on in their heads, and it can be challenging to shut off your brain at the end of a long day. If you struggle with falling asleep and feel consistent tiredness, try Calm or Headspace for better sleep and meditation practice.
Rising early in the morning and ready to conquer the world, lions should try to tackle their most pressing or challenging tasks in the early morning and leave the afternoons for rest. If possible, schedule your meetings in the afternoon once you have completed your deep work for the day. Keep your energy flowing throughout the workday by scheduling time for exercise and time for rest. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your workload, you can use the Mindful, Joyable, or Happify app to focus on maintaining work-life balance in your life.
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How to make the most of Shift based on your chronotype
Depending on which chronotype you identify with, you can customize your Shift account to sync with your most productive hours. Turn on mute notifications when you are focused on deep work or if you’re trying to wind down at the end of a long day. If you’re an early riser, you can flick on the light mode in your Shift account to start your day, or you can keep it on dark mode if you’re still feeling a bit groggy. Add all of your favorite apps into Shift and begin working synchronously with your sleep chronotype.