Are you more of an early riser or a night owl? Whether we are wide awake in the early morning or only really become active in the evening depends mainly on our chronotype. Our biorhythm not only influences our sleep patterns, but also our well-being and performance during the day. Find out why and how chronobiology influences our sleep here.
Table of contents
- Early riser or morning grouch?
- The inner clock & the sleep-wake rhythm
- How do different chronotypes develop?
- The three chronotypesen
- Morning type ( lark )
- The evening type ("owl")
- The mixed type
- Differences: Chronotypes & Sleep Types
- Which sleep type am I?
Early riser or morning grouch?
Sleep is essential to our lives and we all go to bed, sleep and get up again at some point. However, while some people are already wide awake and fit for the day in the early morning, others find it rather difficult to put aside their tiredness in the morning hours. Whether we are early risers or night owls is already in our genes and is controlled by our natural biorhythms.
The inner clock & the sleep-wake rhythm
Every human being has an internal clock that not only regulates the sleep-wake cycle, but also coordinates important bodily functions such as our metabolism, blood pressure and body temperature, our heart rate or organ activity. The internal clock basically follows the natural 24-hour day-night rhythm (also called circadian rhythm) and is oriented to (day) light and darkness. The light conditions are registered by our optic nerves and then processed in the "control centre" of the inner clock, the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus. The suprachiasmatic nucleus then regulates the production of those hormones that are responsible for controlling our sleep-wake rhythm and determine our behaviour when we get up.
The most important role in the sleep process is played by the "stress hormone" cortisol and the "sleep hormone" melatonin. While melatonin makes us tired and sleepy in the evening when it gets darker, cortisol ensures that we wake up in the morning and are active during the day.
How do different chronotypes develop?
Chronobiology designates three so-called chronotypes according to our sleep behavior: The morning or early type, the evening or late type and the mixed or normal type. Because when we get tired in the evening and really awake in the morning also depends on how quickly our body reacts to changes in light conditions. If melatonin levels rise early in the evening, we get tired more quickly and usually go to bed earlier, while early cortisol production in the morning means we wake up more easily and get an early start to the day.
The three chronotypes
#1 The morning or early type ("lark").
Typical early risers are usually awake early, have little problem with fatigue in the morning, and can start the day fairly quickly. As a result, people of this chronotype are already physically and mentally capable in the morning. According to studies, larks are not only more productive but also happier compared to other sleep types. Due to the early start to the day, tiredness sets in comparatively early in the evening.
Sleep period of the morning type: Between 9 pm and 7 am.
#2 The evening or late type ("owl")
Those who are still able to perform in the evening and only become really tired at a late hour are often referred to as the night owl or evening type. Owls usually reach their peak performance in the late evening hours and only produce the melatonin needed for sleep at the beginning of the night. In the morning, they then take longer to wake up and get going. Because our social structures prefer an early start to the day, the evening type in particular often has to do without important hours of sleep, because getting up early then does not correspond to the natural rhythm and, in addition to a bad mood, often results in pronounced tiredness and a slow start to the day.
Sleep period of the evening type: Between 1 a.m. and 1 p.m.
#3 The mixed or normal type
Most people can be assigned to the mixed type or show only slight characteristics of a lark or owl. This means that they do not wake up extremely early or very late and can usually start the day between 7 am and 8 am without any major problems.
Sleep period of the mixed type: Between 0 am and 8 am.
Differences: Chronotypes & sleep types
In addition to chronotypes, there are also different sleep types: Short sleepers and long sleepers! Night owls in particular are often wrongly described as long sleepers, but our chronotype only determines the time at which we best fall asleep and wake up. Which sleep type we belong to, on the other hand, depends on how many hours of sleep per night we ultimately need in order to start a new day refreshed. While so-called short sleepers get by on just 5 - 6 hours of sleep, classic long sleepers often need up to 9 or 10 hours of sleep at night. For most adults, 7 - 8 hours of sleep is considered optimal, although individual sleep needs can also change over the course of our lives. Read more here.
What type of sleeper am I?
You can find out whether you're more of a short sleeper or a long sleeper quite easily by observing your sleep patterns. You can determine your chronotype with the help of special questionnaires, for example. Knowing your own sleep needs can be very helpful. After all, if you can adapt your sleep-wake times to your biorhythm and take into account the natural performance curve in your everyday or professional life, this will have an effect not only on your sleep, but also on your performance and well-being.
The internal clock controls our sleeping and getting-up behaviour, our performance and important physical processes.
Our chronotype describes and influences our sleep-wake behaviour, i.e. at what times of day we are active/performing or tired/sleepy.
Our sleep type, on the other hand, describes how much sleep we need per night and whether we are short or long sleepers.
The early type/the lark is awake and productive early in the morning, but tired earlier in the evening and often sleeps between 9pm and 7am.
The evening type/the owl is active only around noon and evening, goes to bed later, and sleeps longer in the morning, usually between 1 am and 1 pm.
The mixed type usually sleeps between 0am and 8am. This is in line with most people's sleeping patterns.
Best regards and see you soon!