Bear, wolf, dolphin, tiger, gorilla, lion – a completely different chronotype-definition comes from America, that we address here at least once and with the classic chronotypes owl, dove and lark. Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and a member of both the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. According to his website has named him the Top Sleep Specialist in California by Reader’s Digest. His sleep test recently went viral and promises better sleep once you identify your chronotype. In order to actually improve your sleep, however, you have to buy his book. What are the differences to owls and larks?
Unlike the known chronotypes, his scheme includes other members of the animal world. Here we find the lion, the bear, the dolphin and the wolf. There are now apps that use other chronotypes, such as headway_app (a tiger and a gorilla are added here). But what makes the difference between the above-mentioned animals and the owls and larks? The main difference is that the chronotypes according to Breus do not describe a genetic imprint of the temporal position of the sleep/wake rhythm, but the classification is purely behavior-based. First comes the definition and then our critique of it.
Breus defines the chronotypes as followsfreely translated from English from several sources: https://thesleepdoctor.com/media/, https://www.sleepadvisor.org/chronotypes/, … Continue reading:
Dolphins typically awaken from sleep restless, have trouble napping and are often tired throughout the day, with an energy boost in the evening. They belong to notable exponents such as Charles Dickens and Williams Shakespeare. This chronotype was named after the mammals that only sleep with half their brains at a time. Breus used this animal to represent the 10% of people who struggle with insomnia and other sleep disorders. While abnormally asleep, dolphins are typically intelligent, motivated individuals who make good friends with strong loyalty.
Daily schedule recommendation for the dolphin
- Morning: from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. – It is better to start the day with a morning run and some exercises. Take a cold shower or contrast shower to fully wake up. Take a cold shower or contrast shower to fully wake up.
- Maximum productivity: from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Drink coffee with less caffeine and in small amounts. The time of your energy peak is between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. It is the best time to complete the most difficult tasks. After lunch you feel tired. That’s why you should walk for 20 minutes. You have enough energy to complete all your tasks by 6 p.m.
- After Work: 6pm to 10pm – Grab a light snack (a banana, protein bar or salad) and hit the gym. But don’t do strength exercises, as they don’t contribute to proper sleep. Dinner at 9pm. It is also a good time to talk to your friends or family members. You can also resolve problems and conflicts during this period.
- The end of the day: from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. – Take a warm bath, put all gadgets aside and read a book at 10 p.m. Go to bed at 12.00 p.m.. You might not fall asleep right away. Try changing the position until you find the most comfortable one.
About 15% of the population are lions and therefore early risers and hunters. They are the COOsChief Operating Officer Type A, managers and drill sergeants who wake up, train, and coordinate the day’s projects before the rest of the world has had their coffee. Leos lack vision and creativity. They wake up early with a lot of energy and are at their sharpest in the morning. They are often organized leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin. They are also the only chronotype that Breus says has high life satisfaction. These are the leaders who get things done without getting distracted. Analytical and organized, these people prioritize their health and work hard. They usually have the ideal conditions for normal societal expectations.
Daily schedule for the lion
- Mornings from 5:30 to 10:00 a.m. – Your breakfast should consist of more protein and fewer carbohydrates. After breakfast and before everyone wakes up, you can meditate or exercise. You can have coffee around 10am.
- Maximum productivity: from 10am to 5pm – Since you had breakfast 3-4 hours ago, you can take a light break and eat cottage cheese, a protein bar or yogurt. It’s your energy peak: get as much out of it as possible. Do not schedule meetings in the evening as you will get tired. Schedule all your meetings in the afternoon. After lunch you still have strength and energy. Try to complete as many tasks as possible before 2 p.m. After 3 p.m., you do simpler tasks.
- After work: from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – From 5 p.m. you feel tired. So avoid working after this time. It’s a good time to exercise to give you more energy. Eat a healthy dinner.
- The end of the day: from 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. – Thanks to a healthy diet and exercise, you will have some energy to spend time with friends. You should go to bed at 10 p.m.
Bears are the most common chronotype, accounting for 50-55% of the population. In the chronobiological spectrum they are in the middle – no early risers and no night owls. Like true bears, they tend to rise and sleep with the sun, which is in line with the sun’s cycle, although it can take longer for them to get going in the morning. You’re in the same camp with Stephen King and Jeff Bezos. Playful and loving, these people generally lead healthy lifestyles, are good students and team players. The “normal working hours” suit bears, and they’re usually the people who get things done.
Daily schedule a bear
- In the morning from 7 to 11 o’clock -.Wake up and exercise for 8-10 minutes. Eat a hearty breakfast and drink coffee: it helps not to overeat in the evening, and the excess calories will give you the necessary energy for the whole day. Plan your day.
- Maximum productivity: from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m – Do things that require a lot of energy and focus first. You’ll get them done faster.
You get tired as lunchtime approaches. That’s why it’s better to go for a walk. Bright colors and the sun awaken your organism and help fight drowsiness.
Lunch at 12: It gives you energy for the rest of the day. After 2 p.m. you may feel tired again. So you can arrange meetings and coffee breaks to get through the afternoon.
- After work: from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m – It’s the best time to exercise. It’s hard to start, but only at the beginning. A light post-workout dinner: more protein and fewer carbs.
- The end of the day: from 10pm to 11pm –Bears can stay up late but always feel tired in the morning. Therefore, you had better turn off your devices at 10pm and go to bed at 11pm.
Wolves make up 15% of the population. They are the night owls who stand guard like sentries during the rest of their sleep. Typically they are creative types including authors, artists, entrepreneurs, security guards, security guards, musicians, bartenders and many are introverts. They are most active in the early evening hours and are out of sync with the rest of the world. People like Barack Obama and Elon Musk fit this pattern. If you are somewhat nocturnal, your energy levels are usually highest later in the day or early evening. These people tend to be fearless, insightful, intuitive, but just out of sync with most of the world.
Daily schedule for a wolf
- Morning from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Set 2 alarms 20 minutes apart. The first alarm will wake you up and the second will get you out of bed. Go out onto the balcony or other lighted area and drink some water. It will help you stop hating everything. It’s better to walk to work. You need a 20-40 minute walk. It will help you get your head straight. At 11 a.m. you can have breakfast and coffee.
- Maximum productivity: from 12 to 8 p.m. – Shift all main tasks to 1 p.m. and slowly engage in the work process. At 2 p.m. you are at the peak of your productivity. Complete challenging tasks and make plans. At 5 p.m. you are still full of energy. Take a break and keep working. It is the perfect time for creative tasks.
- After work: from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – After work (around 7 p.m.) you can go to the gym. Dinner at 8 p.m.
- The end of the day: from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. – You find it easy to stay up late. That’s why you can turn off your devices at 11 p.m. and go to bed at 12 p.m..
This information reflects the definition of the cited sources.
Criticism of the chronotypes according to Breus
Our criticism of this classification is divided.
Behavior based rather than genetic predisposition
Breus also addresses the classic chronotypes in his publications, but mainly propagates his own 4 chronotypes. According to our research, he does not solve this dilemma, but presents it as a logical consequence. However, the problem with a behavior-based classification is evident in the “chicken/egg” issue. Is the cause of the behavior presented above actually in the respective genetic chronotype based on the DLMO or is it a reaction to the individual development of the respective person within his or her social environment (family, job, friends, culture etc.) in which he or we all are embedded. For example, many people like to think of themselves as a chronotype that is socially recognized. That’s why they accept a life that actually runs completely against their inner clock. The result: a lion in terms of behavior, a normal type in terms of genes. Who likes to call himselve a bear when society is looking for lions? The danger of such a behavior-based classification is also the promotion of stigmatization. Entrepreneurs will love lions and avoid bears. A bear may only be tired because society´s clock is going against its natural rhythm.
Sleep is not the focus
It seems paradoxical. Breus is also essentially about sleep, but nowhere within the definitions of his chronotypes does he mention the natural sleep-wake cycle. He generally recommends that bears go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m. For many normal types, however, this means the use of an alarm clock. It is even more extreme with the dolphins. Despite the sleep disturbances presented for this group, he recommends getting up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. This is completely independent of whether it is even possible due to their genetic predisposition. Especially in people with sleep disorders, this can lead to taking medication or, at best, dietary supplements or melatonin. Even more intensive sport directly after getting up with the alarm clock puts a strain on the body to which it may not yet be prepared at this point. In essence, it is not really about understanding the biological sleep window, acting accordingly and learning to deal with it, but rather taking a certain, presumably chronotype-specific behavior as the basis for daily planning.
We also consider the occupational grouping to be problematic. A night watchman designated as a wolf may be a night watchman only because he is better paid there or cannot get a job otherwise. There are also authors, entrepreneurs or musicians who are definitely not wolves. Behavior-based categories are rather counterproductive when it comes to sleep, as they try to facilitate or even support the user’s behavior instead of first questioning the cause of the behavior.
Cultures also play a significant role in outward behavior. Asians, for example, show completely different behavioral patterns than African or European cultures. Europe alone, wandering from north to south, is permeated by a multitude of cultural and social behavioral patterns that by no means have their cause in a genetic predisposition.
Breu’s behavior-based subdivision of chronotypes lacks, on the one hand, a scientifically validated basis that could stand up to global validity in terms of causal relationship with the classical chronotypes. In addition, the danger of stigmatization is great, since the current social situation already portrays the early types as “positive”. If we had a social order that does not follow a fixed temporal order, this would certainly also neatly mix up the current assignment of people to Dr. Breus’ chronotypes. Finally, however, we see the danger above all in the fact that people do not deal with their behavior, but regard it as unchangeable or even socially desired. Compared to height, this would mean that wearing stiletto heels is encouraged just to keep people from appearing small. Breus’ classification is as like when I classify people by the shoe they wear, rather than their actual height. The aim of any improvement should be to first deal with one’s own biological, unchangeable circumstances in order to improve sleep.
The current, scientific classification by the DLMO, without direct assignment of a behavior necessarily associated with the particular chronotype, can be clearly shown genetically and by blood test or hair root test. The focus should therefore be on putting sleep at the center and not on a behavior that is supposedly evident from a chronotype or even a occupational group. This is of little help to the sleep seeker.
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Lion: Kevin Pluck, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Wolf: Mas3cf, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Bear: Jean-noël Lafargue, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons
Dolphin: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Michael Wieden beschäftigt sich als Betriebswirt seit 2002 mit der Chronobiologie im Personalmanagement. Schon 2003 hielt er hierzu seinen ersten Vortrag auf einer Veranstaltung der INQA (Initiative der neuen Arbeit).
Zu den Themen „Chronobiologie im Personalmanagenement“ sowie mobilen Arbeitsformen hat er bereits Bücher geschrieben, und dabei den Begriff „Liquid Work®“ geprägt.
Zusammen mit Claudia Garrido Luque gründete er 2014 die aliamos GmbH und berät seit dem Kommunen, Unternehmen und Kliniken zum Betrieblichen Gesundheitsmanagement. Von 2012 bis Ende 2016 war er externer Wirtschaftsförderer für die Stadt Bad Kissingen und Initiator des weltweit einzigartigen Projektes „ChronoCity – Pilotstadt Chronobiologie“. Zu ChronoCity®, Chronobiologie-Themen und mobilen Arbeitsformen trat er wiederholt als Experte in verschiedenen Fernsehformaten (z.B. TerraX, Planet Wissen, W wie Wissen, Xenius etc.) auf. Zudem war er von 2014 bis 2017 Mitglied des Arbeitskreises „Zeitgerechte Stadt“ der ARL – Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung in Hannover.
Aktuell hält er Vorträge zum Thema “Chronobiologie im Personalmanagement” und “Mobile Arbeitsformen”, und berät Unternehmen bei der Umsetzung chronobiologischer Ansätze in Unternehmen und Kliniken.