Sleep and chronotypes at a glance
Are you more of an early riser or a night owl? Whether we are wide awake in the early morning or only become really active in the evening mainly depends on our chronotype. Our biorhythm not only influences our sleeping habits, but also our well-being and our ability to perform during the day. You can find out why and how chronobiology influences our sleep here.
Table of Contents
- Early riser or morning grouch?
- The internal clock & the sleep-wake cycle
- How do different chronotypes arise?
- The three chronotypesen
- morning type ("lark")
- The evening type ("owl")
- The mixed type
- Differences: chronotypes & sleep types
- What sleep type am I?
1. Early risers or morning grouches?
Sleep is essential to our lives and we all go to bed, sleep and wake up at some point. While some people are wide awake and fit for the day early in the morning, others find it difficult to get rid of their tiredness in the morning hours. However, whether we are early risers or night owls is already in our genes and is controlled by our natural biorhythm.
2. The internal clock & the sleep-wake cycle
Everyone 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 inner clock basically follows the natural 24-hour day-night rhythm (also known as the circadian rhythm) and is oriented towards (day) light and darkness. The light conditions are registered by our optic nerves and then further processed in the "control center" of the inner clock, the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus. This then regulates the production of those hormones that are responsible for controlling our sleep-wake cycle and determining how we get up.
The most important roles in the sleep process are played by the "stress hormone" cortisol and the melatonin known as the "sleep hormone". While melatonin makes us tired and sleepy in the evenings as it gets darker, cortisol ensures that we wake up in the morning and are active during the day.
3. How do different chronotypes arise?
Chronobiology designates three so-called chronotypes according to our sleep patterns: 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. When melatonin levels rise early in the evening, we tire more easily and tend to go to bed earlier, while early cortisol production in the morning makes it easier for us to wake up and start the day early.
4. The three chronotypes
#1 The morning or Early type ("Lark")
Typical early risers are usually up early, have hardly any problems with tiredness in the morning and can start the day quite quickly. As a result, people of this chronotype are already physically and mentally fit in the morning. Studies have shown that larks are not only more productive than other sleep types, but also happier. Due to the early start to the day, tiredness sets in comparatively early in the evening.
Morning type sleep period: Between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
#2 The evening or Late type ("owl")
Anyone who is still productive in the evening and only gets really tired later in the day is often referred to as a night owl or evening type. Owls usually only reach their peak performance in the late evening hours and only produce the melatonin needed for sleep at the beginning of the night. It takes them longer in the morning 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 does not correspond to the natural rhythm and, in addition to a bad mood, often causes 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. So you wake up neither extremely early nor very late and can usually start the day between 7 and 8 a.m. without any major problems.
Mixed type sleep period: Between 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
5. Differences: chronotypes & sleep types
In addition to the chronotypes, there are also different sleep types: short and long sleepers! Night owls in particular are often wrongly referred to as late risers. Our chronotype only decides when 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 with just under 5 - 6 hours of sleep, classic late risers 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 change over the course of our lives. More on this here.
6. What type of sleeper am I?
You can easily find out whether you tend to sleep short or late by observing your sleeping habits. You can roughly determine your chronotype, for example, with the help of special questionnaires. Knowing how much sleep you need can be very helpful. Ultimately, it not only affects sleep, but also performance and well-being if you can adapt your sleep-wake times to your biorhythm and take into account the natural performance curve in everyday life or at work.
The inner clock controls our sleeping and getting up behavior, our performance and important physical processes
Our chronotype describes and influences the sleep-wake behavior, i.e. at what times of the day we are active/capable 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/lark is awake and productive early in the morning, but tired earlier in the evening and often sleeps between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The evening type/owl is only active around noon and in the evening, goes to bed later and sleeps longer in the morning, usually between 1 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The mixed type usually sleeps between 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This corresponds to the sleeping behavior of most people.
Greetings and see you soon!