Adapting jobs to fit people’s sleep chronotypes

Peyton Duplechien • 08 Aug 2022 • 3 min read

If you’ve ever discussed your sleep habits with someone before, you’ve probably walked away from the conversation with the diagnosis of “early bird” or “night owl.” These terms get tossed around quite frequently, with “early bird” going to those who function best in the earlier hours of the day and “night owl” referring to those who prefer to work later.

However, have you ever heard the labels “lion,” “bear,” “wolf,” or “dolphin”? These four animals are used to represent what professionals now refer to as the four sleep chronotypes.

A chronotype, as defined by the Sleep Foundation, is “the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a certain time.” While the two genres of chronotype we hear about most often are morningness (early bird) and eveningness (night owl), the truth is that most people lie somewhere in between the two.

What are the 4 chronotypes and are chronotypes real?

Brought into popularity by Dr. Michael Breus, the four sleep chronotypes determine when your typical 4-5 sleep cycles fall. Thus, figuring out your sleep chronotype is all about getting in touch with your internal clock.

Once you discover what type of rest works best for you and start coordinating your routine around this pattern, you’ll be better able to regulate not only your sleep schedule but your appetite, body temperature, hormone levels, alertness, daily performance, blood pressure, and reaction times. 

And once you know all this, you can tailor your work habits to match to get the most out of your day. Or, if you’re really interested in optimizing productivity, you can use your new-found knowledge to identify a job that compliments your soft skills and working day habits :
To find out what your chonotype is, take the the Power of When quiz before looking below to find out how to adapt your job to better fit your optimal routine.

Bear chronotype

Bear chronotypes are the most common of the four, with about 50% of the population falling under this category. Bears work best in the 9 to 5 schedule that most jobs adhere to and therefore benefit from the ability to work at their peak productivity levels during the “default” workday.

However, bear chronotypes are also heavily impacted by the rise/fall of the sun, meaning that these hours will shrink in the fall/winter and grow during the spring/summer. During the off-season months, try to offset a bit of the heavy lifting you may take on from March through August by outsourcing some of your busy work.

Lion chronotype

Lion chronotypes are what we most likely call “early birds.” They tend to wake up early in the morning, typically between 5 and 6 am and go to bed by 10 pm. While most people fall into the Bear chronotype, getting a slightly later start to the day, Lions are most efficient in the early hours. If you’re a Lion, try to avoid maintaining a more “normal” 9 to 5 schedule and instead aim for something closer along the lines of 7 am to 3 pm. Knock out your most important tasks at the beginning of your routine and use the middle of the day to communicate with your clients and coworkers. Once you log off to get some well-earned rest, lean on VoiceNation’s after-hours answering service to cover any calls you may receive from those who prefer late night working. 

Wolf chronotype

Wolf chronotypes are far less common than bears and often find their peak productivity hours later in the day. In many cases, this means people in this category will work late into the evening, in some case not even getting into the working groove til after midday. As a result, employees with the wolf chronotype will likely best-enjoy the benefits of remote working and flexible hours.

If possible, wolves should skip the mid-morning meeting and aim for 12pm to evening work schedule. And while you take on your customers’ late-night concerns, you can use a 24/7 live answering service to cover the early morning shift. 

Dolphin chronotype

Dolphin chronotypes are the rarest of the four sleep chronotypes and tend to struggle the most with regulating work efficiency. Dolphins tend to have irregular sleeping patterns and can struggle both with going to sleep and with waking up.

Therefore, because neither early morning nor late afternoon work windows are ideal, it’s incredibly important that dolphins fit as much as they can into their prime window of 10 am to 2 pm. With work knocked out in these hours, you’ll have far more flexibility to create a work-life balance that fits with your unique sleeping habits. 

Now that you know what the different sleep chronotypes are, you can easily manage how you work to cater to your sleeping needs. Of course, if you need assistance outside of your new work hours, then VoiceNation might be able to help.

We offer a 24/7 live answering service that can cover both your morning and evening calls, as well as a live chat service for those who may be busy during the usual 9 to 5 workday and need a little extra support.

Get in touch today to find out more and if you like this piece, then be sure to read our articles on how to balance your work and personal life, tips for phone and video interviews, and the US cities that love remote work the most