Do you prefer to get in bed and go to sleep early, or do you like to stay up late and can’t imagine it any other way? Believe it or not, it’s actually more than just a preference: Our bodies are hard-wired with a natural inclination for our sleep patterns. So while it might feel impossible for you to go to bed before midnight, other people simply can’t operate effectively without doing so. It all comes down to personal chronotypes.
What Is a Chronotype?
According to SleepFoundation.Org, a chronotype is the body’s natural inclination to sleep and wake at specific times. But that’s not all. Chronotypes also influence our appetites (all the way down to when you prefer to drink your coffee), exercise patterns, and overall alertness. So, while a chronotype can help you better understand your early bird or night owl tendencies, it can also help uncover the best times of the day to focus on work, working out, and sitting down to a meal. Heck, your chronotype can even help you pinpoint the best time to have sex.
Maybe most fascinating of all is the fact that chronotypes are categorized as animals—specifically, bears, wolves, lions, and dolphins. These sleep animals correspond with your Chronotype, or unique biological clock. We all have an animal alter ego that describes the way we sleep, says Michael J. Breus, PhD, also known as “The Sleep Doctor.” And no matter which you are, uncovering your chronotype can reveal a lot about your personality.
Luckily for us, discovering yours takes just 90 seconds using the Chronotype quiz concocted by Dr. Breus (the website says 45, but I’m here to tell you it will take longer). The quiz includes questions about your favorite meal of the day, whether you sleep with an alarm, and your history with insomnia. Once you’re assigned to an animal Chronotype group, the site directs you to a video of Dr. Breus explaining your super-secret sleep identity. And trust us, you’ll want to watch it—it may very well help you become your most well-rested, satisfied, and productive self yet.
Are you a bear, lion, wolf, or dolphin? Take the chronotype quiz to find out your sleep animal.
What Are the 4 Chronotypes and How Do You Figure Out Yours?
Bear: About 50 percent of the population
Personality: According to Dr. Breus, a bear is an outgoing, “team-player.” Their people skills are on-point, so they make great managers.
Diet: Just like Winnie the Pooh—the most accurate cartoon portrayal of all bears—they like to graze for food throughout the day (with to-go honey pots and other snacks).
Exercise Tendencies: They may or may not be committed to sweat gains, notes the doctor.
Sleep: “Bears like to get their seven to eight hours, but they’ll hit snooze a few times in the morning,” the doc explains.
Famous Bears: Stephen King, Ellen Degeneres, Ariana Huffington
Lion: About 15-20 percent of the population
Personality: “They’re optimistic goal-setters and get-it-done people,” says Dr. Breus. He adds that they’re also leaders with analytical minds. They often take on leadership positions, but they don’t take risks.
Diet: Lions are mindful of watching their indulgences. Instead, they’re on the prowl for protein, fiber, fruits, and veggies.
Exercise Tendencies: Your friend who never stops talking about CrossFit or their upcoming ultra-marathon is probably a lion. These individuals love conquering challenges fit for predators.
Sleep: They wake up early, raring to take on the day.
Famous Lions: Maya Angelou, Benjamin Franklin, Kevin Johnson
Wolf: About 15-20 percent of the population
Personality: People describe wolves as fearless, Dr. Breus explains. They view the world through an intuitive lens and they’re totally fine with being awake when most people are deep in their dreams. Risky situations are where they feel most at home, so they’ll often act on impulse. You’ll find them working in creative fields like the arts.
Diet: “Although they’re never hungry in the morning, they become ravenous after dark,” says the sleep expert. They like to snack until the wee hours of the morning.
Exercise Tendencies: Dr. Breus tells Bright Side might want to save their gym sessions for after work. Beforehand, a short walk can help them wake up to the (disappointing) fact that they need to be up when the sun is to make a living.
Sleep: They sleep in after a night full of adventures.
Famous wolves: Mark Twain, Barack Obama, Bill Gates
Dolphin: About 10 percent of the population
Personality: Dolphins tend to have Type A personalities. They’re highly intelligent perfectionists who may often be stressed and anxious. At work, they’re fiercely independent and excel at problem-solving.
Diet: “They’re usually eat-to-live types with a naturally fast metabolism,” Dr. Breus explains.
Exercise Tendencies: Some stick to their exercise routines loyally. Some don’t feel they need to because they have such a high metabolism.
Sleep: Dolphins rarely wake up feeling fully rested. When the evening comes, however, they may suddenly experience a burst of energy. They also wake up sporadically throughout their REM cycles to worry.
Famous Dolphins: William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Richard Branson