Are you a lark or an owl, or maybe somewhere in between? Some of us are larks and have more energy in the morning, while owls have more energy later in the day. Sleep researchers have now identified a more sophisticated approach with four chronotypes that include the lion, bear, wolf, and dolphin. Lions hunt in the morning, bears all day, wolves at night, and dolphins sleep with half their brain awake and the other half asleep, which relates to people who tend to be wired and tired. Along with many other creatures, including mammals, birds, and insects, we’re subject to circadian rhythms, which govern our alertness and sleep cycles during the day.
If you’ve ever suffered from jet lag, you’ll have experienced just how powerful this regular cycle is, as your body remains tuned to the previous time zone, until it adjusts to the new location. Although there are individual differences, the average person is most energized in the hours before midday; then energy dips around mid-afternoon and peaks again around 6 pm.
As well as the ebb and flow of our sleep-wake cycle, we can also experience different intensities of activity, agitation, and tension going on in our minds, emotions, and body that interfere with our performance and well-being during the day. For instance, if you had a misunderstanding with your spouse or partner before leaving the house in the morning, the feelings can “niggle away” in the background during a meeting at work.