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How To Design Your Workday Based On Your Sleep Habits

How to Design Your Workday based on your Sleep Habits

Do you insist on having a cup (or two) of coffee every morning before you brave any kind of activity? Or are you one of those lucky individuals who can jump out of bed and get to work pronto?

Board-certified sleep specialist and The Power of When author Michael Breus, seems to think these discrepancies are natural and that there are four types of people (or rather, animals) in the world: bears, lions, wolves, and dolphins. Each animal represents what is called a “chronotype” that describes your body’s natural sleep habits and energy patterns. Have a look at the different kinds of chronotype-animals that there are, because knowing more can help you to embrace your body’s natural energy flows for optimal results at work.

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Here’s what your spirit (okay- chronotype) animal’s ideal work day should look like:

Bears are 50%–55% of the population. They get things done. They have normal sleep schedules, but might not get quite enough sleep. If that sounds familiar, this is ideally what your days should consist of:

Morning routine of stretching, eating a light breakfast of eg fruits, nuts, yogurt and loads of water. Only then grab a coffee (so it doesn’t become your wake-up crutch).

Your peak working hours are 11AM – 6PM, so kick off your first period of being hyper alert by doing something that requires your laser focus. Eat lunch on the early side, and soak up the sunshine if you can venture outside.

By 2pm, your energy will ebb, so keep a protein-heavy snack at hand to carry you through.

After work, get moving by doing some exercise and wind down with a light, low-carb dinner. Your end of day will be around 11, as bears can stay up late easily.


Lions tend to easily wake up without an alarm, even when it’s dark out. This group is stuffed to the brim with Type-A personalities and represent around 15% of the population. If you’re thinking ‘Yup, that’s about right’, then this is ideally what your days should consist of:

(Early) morning routine could most likely include getting up and at ‘em by 6, meditating, perhaps squeezing in an early morning workout, and necking a coffee only after.

Your peak working hours are pretty much the whole darn day, and with breakfast such a long time ago (as you woke up so early), you’ll need ample snacks stashed close by to keep going throughout. If you’re firing on all cylinders from the get-go, dive into your work early and try to prioritize morning meetings or big strategic tasks.

If you’re pooped after work, as you’ve been up for what must feel like ages, don’t be tempted to down another coffee. Rather, if you haven’t exercised yet, hit the gym for a slight energy boost before dinner.

Hit the hay by 10:30, and keep all evening activities super chilled.

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Wolves represent 15–20% of the population, hate mornings and usually hit the snooze button multiple times. They are often late to work, and usually on their third cup of coffee at 9 a.m… going hard on the caffeine to overcome their wolfishness probably. Sound familiar? Then this is probably what your days at work should look like:

A typical morning routine is to set the alarm for 7, and then to snooze for a good 20 – 30 mins after. Try to resist this urge by rather crawling out of bed as your alarm goes off, and go stand by the window while you down a glass of water.

Your workday should start slowly. Make a to-do list, brainstorm on your way to work (on a bike or walking if possible) and then finally grab some coffee. You’ll be at the top of your game after lunchtime so keep all brainstorming and tough tasks till then. By 5PM, you’re probably still going strong, so have a snack to keep pushing through perhaps a late-afternoon exercise session.

Start powering down screens by 11, and commit to lights-out by midnight.


Dolphins are anxious folk with irregular sleep schedules, and in extreme cases, can be insomniacs. Roughly one in 10 folks are dolphins. If this sounds familiar, here’s what your optimal workday should look like:

Your morning routine will probably be varied depending on the previous night’s sleep. Aim to get moving asap as you wake up to jumpstart your bod. Break a light sweat, get some sun, have a cool shower and grab breakfast. Try to stay away from a very early morning coffee to keep you awake, and when you do get to your cuppa, opt for half decaf as you don’t need another reason to be too wired.

Your peak productivity time is before noon, so get big-picture goals out of the way then. After lunch, you’ll probably start to fade, so leave your desk and get some fresh air with a quick walk or by just sitting in the sun. Following this natural pick-me-up, you’ll be very alert by late afternoon, so make sure to plug away at detailed tasks until home-time. After work, grab a snack and head to a yoga class. Avoid high-intensity workouts, which might wind you up, keeping you awake longer than you’d like. Aim to make dinner early (like 7pm) and make sure to keep things super relaxed leading to bedtime.

Start your bedtime ritual at around 10pm by turning off your smartphone and TV. Aim to drift off by midnight, but try not to beat yourself up if you find yourself staring at the ceiling for a while first. You may have trouble falling asleep, but chances are you’ll still be getting the shut-eye you need.

That said, the struggle is real either way to get through a Monday right?


Written by Nina Clark