Chronotypes – how to sleep better, and consequently live better?

Have you ever gotten a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep and still felt tired the next day? Is getting up in the morning at all extremely difficult? Perhaps the opposite is true, and as soon as the sun goes down you feel an overwhelming urge to climb into bed? It turns out that fitting into an 8am to 4pm work schedule can be more difficult for some than for others, and this has a genetic component.

Chronotype is a concept closely related to personal diurnal rhythm, one might be tempted to say that it is a sleep schedule. It comes in several variants and differs strongly from one another. While the diurnal clock can be “rearranged”, which is even required in some professions, the chronotype is not influenced. In order to sleep better, and consequently live better, it is worth knowing yours.

Lark and Owl

As in many other cases of research at the intersection of psychology and physiology, there are at least several ways to define chronotype. In the most basic variant, there are two types called lark and owl. The terminology is quite figurative, after all, these birds, in terms of the time of their activity, are opposites.

People who exhibit the characteristics of the lark chonotype naturally get sleepy earlier and get up earlier. They are most productive in the morning hours and this is when work is most optimal for them.

For those with the owl chronotype, working these sleep and working the same hours as a lark can prove not only problematic, but downright unhealthy. Since sleep consists of cycles of NREM and REM phases, repeating every 90 minutes or so, in order to get a good night’s rest, it is crucial not to disrupt them. However, these cycles vary throughout the night. In the first two 90-minute intervals, the deep sleep – NREM – phases dominate. In the following ones, the REM phase, responsible for the most vivid of sleep dreams, takes the lead.

So when we force a “lark” and an “owl” to sleep during the same hours, such as 10-6 p.m., we will find that one “owl” will suffer from a deficiency of the REM phase, since its biological clock naturally demands sleep from 1-9 a.m. It is worth adding that REM responsible for mental well-being, and neglect of this issue can lead to lowered mood and, consequently, even diseases like depression.

And all the rest of the zoo

There are also more complex divisions than the polar lark-owl arrangement. Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in the field of sleep hygiene and author of The Power Of When, has distinguished four chronotypes based on his experience: lion, wolf, dolphin and bear.

Lions naturally get up earlier and are most active during the morning. Such people also tend to be more extroverted and energetic, but late parties or going to the movies can be a challenge for them.

Wolves can be described as nocturnal marks, they fall asleep later and are most productive in the evenings.

Dolphins are the most diverse of this group, rarely exhibiting a specific sleep schedule. This is sometimes problematic, as they have a hard time adjusting to the demands of their environment.

The last and most common chronotype – the bear – is found in more than half the population and is somewhere in the middle between the lion and the wolf. For such people, working 8am to 4pm will be the most comfortable.

To learn about your chronotype, Dr. Breus suggests a quick quiz available on his website It is available in English only. Scientifically developed self-completion questionnaires giving insight into chronotype are also available online. One type of questionnaire called MEQ (morningness-eveningness questionnaire) is available at in several languages, including Polish.

One device – many measurements

Maintaining proper sleep hygiene can be a challenge that is hard to manage on your own. In addition to knowing your own chronotype, it’s also good practice to take care of the right conditions in the bedroom. The Espirio environmental monitoring system is an incredibly useful tool, providing comprehensive readings of the parameters most important to us. The level of air pollution and its freshness, temperature or humidity have a significant impact on the quality of sleep. Espirio allows you to take care of all these factors and several others, all in one compact device.