Understanding your chronotype and how it affects your productivity
Do you ever feel like you're on a different schedule to everyone around you? Do you find yourself yawning at the dinner table while everyone around you is buzzing with energy? Or maybe you're feeling drained during the mid morning no matter how many hours of sleep you get? It simply doesn't feel like you’re getting enough sleep?
This might be down to not understanding your chronotype or otherwise known as your biological body clock, and how it affects your productivity.
What is a chronotype and where does it come from?
Your chronotype controls your body's natural tendencies to fall asleep and wake up during the day. It can be used to explain why some people find it difficult to sleep at night or even reach a state of tiredness at all.
Your chronotype is usually closely related to your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for your sleep-wake cycle and the release of melatonin in response to a list of factors such as temperature and light. The major difference between this and your chronotype however is that your circadian rhythm can be trained through is referred to as zeitgebers such as light and your sleep routine. Your chronotype can not be altered but may change naturally over your lifetime as our bodies and brains age. Your chronotype comes from the length of your PER3 gene amongst others.
Chronotypes can vary from person to person due to a list of factors including age, genetics and possibly even geographical location due to the change in daylight hours.
But there seems to be a general rule that when we are born; we start with an earlier chronotype and typically this gets pushed back as we reach adolescence, this may be why people say teenagers are lazy when really, they're just adapting to a shift in their chronotype! It then tends to get earlier as we approach our mid 20s. The amount your chronotype adjusts differs from person to person some people may see a couple hours shift in the time they want to go to bed other may see little difference.
Although as we said you cannot change your chronotype, you can use your knowledge of it to better understand your body clock. Not only can it improve your productivity and the quality of your sleep, but finding a sleep schedule that best suits you will have a positive effect on your mental health! It's found that it can make us less tired throughout the day, more cheerful, achieve a healthier lifestyle and help us to be more tolerant of your moral judgment of others. Understanding your internal clock will also allow you to come up with a day to day schedule that best suits you and help you to become more organised.
Figuring out your own chronotype
Scientists usually describe two chronotypes: eveningness and morningness, otherwise known as night owls and early birds (sometimes known as morning larks)
Many say chronotypes fall on a spectrum, and with most people lying somewhere in between eveningness and morningness, researchers devised the term “hummingbirds” to explain their chronotype.
There are two main questionnaires that scientists have developed. These are the Morningness versus Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ) and the Munich ChronoType Questionnaire (MCTQ). The MEQ test focuses on your wake and sleep times while the MCTQ tries to understand your chronotype by asking a list of questions about your range of activities, for example meal and exercise times.
So, I bet the question you're wondering now is how to find and understand which chronotype best explains you, right?
To figure out your chronotype, think about what time you would prefer to wake up on a day off, completely free of any responsibilities. You probably already know off the top of your head whether you prefer to wake up early or late, if not you could use one of the questionnaires i mentioned above.
Whichever way you decide to find out your chronotype, there is no doubt that there are only positives to finding it. Not only will it benefit your overall health and productivity - it might just be the missing key to unlocking the best sleep of your life!
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