Are you more of an early riser or a night owl? Whether we are wide awake in the early morning or only really active in the evening depends mainly on our chronotype. Our biorhythm not only influences our sleep behavior, but also our well-being and performance 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 rhythm
- How do different chronotypes arise?
- The three chronotypess
- Morning type ("lark")
- The evening type ("owl")
- The mixed type
- Differences: Chronotypes & Sleep Types
- What type of sleeper am I?
1. 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. While some people are wide awake and ready for the day early in the morning, others find it difficult to get rid of their tiredness in the morning hours. Whether we are early risers or night owls is in our genes and is controlled by our natural biorhythm.
2. The internal clock & the sleep-wake rhythm
Every person has an internal clock that not only regulates the sleep-wake rhythm, but also coordinates important body functions such as our metabolism, blood pressure and body temperature, our heart rate and organ activity. The internal clock basically follows the natural 24-hour day-night rhythm (also called circadian rhythm) and is based on (day) light and darkness. The light conditions are registered via our optic nerves and then further processed in the “control center” of the internal clock, the so-called suprachiasmatic nucleus. This then regulates the production of those hormones that are responsible for controlling our sleep-wake rhythm and determine our getting up behavior.
The most important role in the sleep process is played by the “stress hormone” cortisol and the melatonin, known as the “sleep hormone”. While melatonin makes us tired and sleepy in the evening 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 describes three so-called chronotypes based on our sleeping 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 when we really wake up in the morning also depends on how quickly our body reacts to the changes in lighting conditions. If melatonin levels rise in the early evening, we get tired more quickly and usually go to bed earlier, while early cortisol production in the morning means that we can wake up more easily and start the day early.
4. The three chronotypes
#1 The morning or Early type (“lark”)
Typical early risers are usually awake early, have hardly any problems with tiredness in the morning and can start the day quite quickly. This means that people of this chronotype are physically and mentally productive in the morning. According to studies, compared to other sleep types, larks are not only more productive, 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 late at night 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. In the morning it takes them longer to wake up and get going. Because our social structures prefer an early start to the day, evening types in particular often have to miss out on important hours of sleep, because getting up early does not correspond to the natural rhythm and, in addition to a bad mood, often leads to pronounced tiredness and a slow start to the day.
Evening type sleep period: Between 1 a.m. and 1 p.m.
#3 The mixing or Normal type
Most people can be assigned to the mixed type or only show slight manifestations of a lark or owl. So you don't wake up extremely early or very late and can usually start the day between 7 and 8 a.m. without any major problems.
Mixed type sleep period: Between 12am and 8am.
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 incorrectly referred to as late risers. Our chronotype only determines at what time we fall asleep and wake up best. Which sleep type we belong to 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 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 change over the course of our lives. More about this here.
6. What type of sleeper am I?
You can easily find out whether you are a short or long sleeper by observing your sleeping behavior. You can roughly determine your chronotype using special questionnaires, for example. Knowing your own sleep needs can be 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 the natural performance curve into account in everyday life or at work.
The internal clock controls sleep and getting up behavior, our performance and important physical processes
Our chronotype describes and influences sleep-wake behavior, i.e. at what times of day we are active/efficient 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 midday and 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 midnight and 8 a.m. This corresponds to the sleeping behavior of most people.
Greetings and see you soon!