Are you a dolphin, lion, bear or wolf? The question makes no sense when asked out of the blue, but it makes perfect sense in the context of psychiatrist and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus's diagnostic quiz. In less than a minute, the quiz will identify your chronotype, or your unique biological rhythm — an internal clock determines your personal preference for what time you wake up, work, exercise, eat and more. In his book "The Power of When," Breus outlines four chronotypes — which he labels bear, dolphin, lion or wolf — with ideal daily routines for each one.
Which one are you, and does your daily schedule need to change to accommodate your ideal routine?
Much like bears in nature when they're not hibernating, the bear chronotype is active during the day and restful at night. Roughly half the population is made up of bears, according to Business Insider. Breus says bears' sleep and wake patterns match up with the solar cycle, and they like to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, if not more. If you're a bear, it takes you a few hours to feel fully awake in the morning, and you're likely hungry when you wake up.
Speaking of food, human bears will eat and snack throughout the day if food is available, Breus says, and they're not particularly good about exercise. "If they make an effort with diet and exercise, they do so sporadically, with mixed results. Bears’ BMI tends to be average to high," according to the quiz.
Given this, Breus recommends that bears wake up around 7 a.m., take a few hours for themselves before heading to work, exercise in the evening before dinner, and hit the hay around 11 p.m.
Like their pre-dawn hunting counterparts in the wild, the lion chronotype wakes up bright-eyed at dawn or earlier, Breus says, "raring to go and hungry at first light." Lions need an early, hearty breakfast as mornings are their most productive time of the day.
Lions start to feel tired by late afternoon, which is no surprise given that they've been going at full speed since 5 or 6 a.m. "Bright-eyed go-get-’em eagerness might be their defining characteristic," according to the quiz. Lions are often successful in business and school due to their analytical minds and aversion to risks, Breus says, and most CEOs and entrepreneurs are lions.
Breus recommends exercising in the early evening before dinner, which shouldn't be a problem — he calls lions the "mud runners and CrossFit enthusiasts of the world." Lions, who tend to fall asleep easily, should aim for a bedtime around 10:30 p.m., he says.
In nature, wolves are cunning night prowlers who hunt in packs. As a chronotype, wolves are night owls who have difficulty waking up before 9 a.m. (As the quiz notes, they do it, but they're not happy about it.) They tend to stay up late, not feeling tired until midnight or later.
Their eating patterns follow a similar trend: They're not hungry when they wake up, but they're ravenous after dark. Breus notes that wolves tend to eat high-fat, high-sugar food and have a propensity toward obesity and diabetes. He recommends wolves set two alarms in the morning, finish their workday by 6 p.m., then head to the gym, and have a late dinner.
Breus says wolves tend to be risk-takers who are intuitive, emotional and creative people often employed in the fields of art, medicine or technology.
Ah, the poor dolphin. In nature, these mammals can only rest half of their brain at a time when sleeping because they need to surface to breathe and keep an eye out for predators. You could say humans classified as the dolphin chronotype do the same thing. Breus says they're light sleepers and often insomniacs who are easily awakened by light or noise and wake up multiple times a night. They're perpetually tired.
Dolphins tend to be anxious, nervous worriers who are highly intelligent and have perfectionist tendencies, Breus says. While they tend to not work well in teams, they are problem-solvers and good listeners. Those obsessive tendencies work well in regard to their health, as dolphins like to exercise and have generally low BMI.
Like lions, dolphins need an early, healthy breakfast. Breus recommends relaxing exercise such as meditation or yoga after work and before dinner, with a bedtime before midnight.