Want to Sleep Better? Know Your Sleep Type

by Karen LeBlanc
A woman sleeping with a sleeping mask

There are personality types and there are sleep types. What type of sleeper are you? Read on to determine your sleep type and how to make lifestyle changes for a good night’s rest. 

A lot of sleep talking took place at The 2020 Global Wellness Summit where health and wellness experts shared the latest research and insight into how sleep is a window to our health. “If you aren’t sleeping well, there is something physical or emotional going on with you,” says Dr. Michael Breus, The Sleep Doctor, and a keynote speaker.  Dr. Breus developed The Chrono Quiz based on how an individual’s hormones interact with his or her circadian rhythms. 

“If we know the timing of our hormones based on our chronotype, and what hormones are used in what activity, then we can fit our schedule to meet our natural rhythms of expert performance,” says Dr. Breus. 

The Chrono Quiz categorizes people into four different sleep types:

Lions comprise 15-20% of the population are known as “early birds.” These people are early morning optimists with a medium sleep drive. They tend to be company CEOs who make a plan and stick to it daily and go to bed early. 

Bears account for 55% of the population and known as solar sleepers with a healthy sleep drive. They are extroverted, get stuff done with a great disposition and fun personality. “Most of society is built around the bear’s schedule,”  says Dr. Breus.

Wolves amount to 15-20% of the population and are the night owls. They create novelty seekers, high-risk takers, creative thinkers, and tend to be more introverted. 

Dolphins comprise 10% of the population and have erratic sleep schedules. They have a short sleep drive, are highly intelligent and tend to be OCD with higher levels of anxiety. They never quite finish a project. 

“It’s a myth that humans need eight hours of sleep to be healthy and well-rested. You should allow your body to get the sleep you need so that you wake up refreshed,” says Dr. Breus. 

In normal sleep patterns, it takes the average human 90 minutes to go through the sleep cycle of light and deep sleep. The average human has five of those sleep cycles. “Lions and Bears have five sleep cycles of 90 minutes and take approximately 20 minutes to fall asleep. Their total sleep needs equate to 7.8 hours nightly.  Wolves and Dolphins are insomniacs and they only need 6.7 hours,” notes Dr. Breus.  

From his on-going sleep research, Dr. Breus has discovered five tips for a better night’s sleep:

If a morning cup of coffee is your wake up call, Dr. Breus has discovered some surprising facts about caffeine’s potency and the timing of caffeine consumption.  In order to maximize caffeine’s effect, he advises drinking coffee 90 minutes after waking up. “In order to wake up, you need cortisol and adrenaline and it takes 90 minutes for those hormones to dissipate. If you add caffeine to the cortisol and adrenaline, caffeine does nothing to stimulate you. Allow those hormones to dissipate 90 minutes then have your morning cup of coffee. The caffeine will be far more effective,” says Dr. Breus.  The body takes 7 to 8 hours to eliminate half the amount of caffeine in your system.

Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is the author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep.  and 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

Dr. Breus is on the clinical advisory board of The Dr. Oz Show and appears regularly on the show.

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