How To Thrive As A Bear Chronotype: Sleep Tips + A Daily Schedule
We all require different approaches to health, from which diets work best for us to which exercises are most suited for our bodies—and sleep habits are no exception. According to the idea of the four sleep chronotypes, we all typically fall under one sleep category, and understanding yours can help you both optimize your sleep and schedule your days.
In the case of bears (which happen to be the most common chronotype), here's what to know, from when to eat to when to wake up and, of course, how to get better sleep.
The four sleep chronotypes.
The four sleep chronotypes relate to our body's biological clock (aka circadian rhythm), which affects our energy levels throughout the day and into the night. The four types are lions, bears, wolves, and dolphins, and if you're unsure which you are, one of the following descriptions will likely resonate most:
- Lions: Morning people who like to wake up early and are most productive in the morning
- Bears: Sleep schedule is synced with the sun, with most productivity in the morning
- Wolves: Prefer to wake up later in the day, most productive in the afternoon/evening
- Dolphins: Trouble waking up and falling asleep, most productive around midday
Understanding your type can help you figure out a schedule that truly works best for you and, further, why different schedules you've previously tried haven't worked. Not only can this knowledge boost your productivity, but you can create a schedule that is regular and supportive of your sleep needs so you consistently feel your best.
Characteristics of a bear chronotype.
It was board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., who coined the four sleep chronotypes, so we asked him for a thorough rundown of bears and their needs. And as he tells mbg, they're actually the most common sleep type out there.
"The entire world operates on a bear's schedule," he says, noting this is because there appears to be quite a lot of them out there. (About 55% of people, based on the 1.5 million people who have taken Breus' chronotype quiz online). Bears are characterized by waking and sleeping with the sun, so they're definitely not night owls, preferring to wake up relatively early.
Breus further explains that the quiz has identified a handful of key personality traits for bears: cautiousness, a tendency for extroversion, friendliness, being "easy to talk to," and open-mindedness. "Some of the behaviors they appear to endorse," he adds, "include avoiding conflict, hoping to be healthy (and often falling short), prioritizing happiness, and not liking a lot of change."
Bear chronotype schedule.
Think you could be a bear? Well, you're in luck, because Breus has outlined a solid schedule that will naturally flow with your own spikes (and dips) in energy throughout the day:
- 7 a.m.: Wake up and don't hit snooze.
- 7 to 7:30 a.m.: Sex or exercise to elevate your heart rate and get your cortisol flowing. If possible, try to get outside.
- 7:30 to 8 a.m.: Eat a high-protein, low-carb breakfast. No caffeine just yet.
- 8 to 9 a.m.: Commute to work or walk into your office and get your workday going.
- 9 to 10 a.m.: Once you've gone through emails, had some water, etc., you can make a game plan. For this hour, plan and organize your time before you start, as you'll be very detailed and focused.
- 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: This is your most productive work time. You can have one coffee now should you really want it.
- 12 to 12:20 p.m.: Have a lunch that's roughly half the size of breakfast and twice the size of dinner.
- 12:20 to 12:30 p.m.: Rather than a cup of coffee, go for a quick walk outside to help wake you up.
- 1 to 2:30 p.m.: The last window of your peak alertness, use this time to do more work.
- 2:30 to 2:50 p.m.: Take a quick power nap, or do a meditation or breathwork exercise in a room by yourself.
- 3 to 6 p.m.: This is your peak "good mood," so do more social-related tasks and/or use your positive attitude to make calls, take meetings, etc.
- 4 p.m.: Stop working and have a small snack of ~250 calories, with 75% carbs and 25% protein.
- 6 to 7 p.m.: Exercise if you did not in the morning.
- 7:30 p.m.: Have a small but filling dinner.
- 8 to 10 p.m.: Socialize without alcohol.
- 10 p.m.: Start to unwind with screens off. Meditate, read, stretch, relax, etc.
- 11 p.m.: Lights out.
- Note: It can take up to 30 days to implement this schedule properly, so start adjusting one thing at a time rather than trying to jump right into the exact schedule.
Tips for thriving as a bear chronotype.
When to work out
Breus tells mbg that he finds bears really ought to work out in the morning, at least before noon. "If they do not exercise before noon, they just can't seem to get motivated to do it," he says, adding, "Also if they are struggling with excess weight, I try not to start them on cardio, but more weights, which allows them to succeed and continue with the program."
When (+ what) to eat
For bears, as you can see in the schedule above, you'll want a high-protein, low-carb breakfast around 7:30 to 8 in the morning. Skip the coffee until at least 10 a.m., and then come noon, you have a medium-sized lunch. Around 4 p.m., Breus recommends a 250-calorie snack that has a good amount of protein (25%) and 75% carbs. Finally, dinner rolls around at 7:30, and Breus says you'll want it to be light but filling, suggesting something like a soup or stew.
When to have sex
According to Breus, all of the chronotypes benefit from morning sex to start the day and get your heart rate going right away. Of course, it's also important to keep your partner's chronotype in mind, as two bears might love morning sex but a bear and a dolphin may not. Here's our full guide on when to have sex based on your chronotype for more details.
Optimizing sleep as a bear chronotype:
Have a consistent sleep schedule.
Unlike dolphins who struggle with sleep, for example, bears are ultimately blessed with a lack of sleep difficulties. As Breus explains, "Bears are solar sleepers with a medium sleep drive—the good news is that they don't have to do that much to optimize sleep. They tend to go to bed between 11 p.m. and midnight and wake up around 7 to 7:30 naturally, so there is less tweaking that needs to be done with their sleep."
That said, he adds, if you are a bear and you're experiencing some sleep challenges, getting your sleep/wake schedule down pat is the first thing to tighten up (aka going to bed and waking up at the same time every day).
Try a sleep-supporting supplement.
Another thing you can do to support quality sleep is try a high-quality supplement with science-backed ingredients, like mbg's sleep support+. This hormone-free formula combines the benefits of magnesium, PharmaGABA®, and jujube, for a product designed to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling rested.*
Exercise in the morning.
Last but not least, we know exercise and sleep have a strong connection. (More exercise means sleeping more soundly, and sleeping more soundly means better athletic performance!) So for bears, take advice from Breus and tackle your workout first thing. Not only will you start your day on a great note, but come bedtime, you'll be ready to knock out.
We all have different sleep needs, and in the case of bears, understanding when to wake up, when to go to bed, and everything else bears can do to thrive will help them feel their best on the daily.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.