The Science Behind Getting Better Sleep (Ep. 124)

Michael BreusI’ve always been a morning person.

While some people view the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn as more horrifying than an angry honey badger covered with glued-on steak knives, I’ve been willingly doing it since high school.

Even after my mornings stopped being filled with scheduled obligations – classes, summer jobs in corn fields, etc. – I still kept waking up early in order to stay productive. I even created a Twitter-based public shaming system to make sure I couldn’t sleep in.

Simply put, getting up early helps me get things done. However, that isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, you might be wired for sleeping in and staying up late – right down to your DNA.

You see, humans aren’t all programmed to sleep at the exact same times. Each of us has a chronotype, which is a fancy term that explains how you body’s circadian rhythm and sleep drive works.

Knowing your chronotype is useful because it allows you to tweak your sleep schedule for better rest. Moreover, it also allows you to figure out when to do other things as well – when to exercise, when to learn, etc.

My guest on today’s show is Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep doctor, clinical psychologist, and the author of several sleep-related books. Dr. Breus has learned a lot about chronotypes through his research and work with clients.

All of that learning forms the basis of his latest book, The Power of When, which explains the science behind chronotypes and uses it to help you figure out the best time to do things. If you’re a student trying to figure out your schedule, this will be very useful to know.

Dr. Breus sorts people into four different chronotype categories – Lions, Wolves, Bears, and Dolphins. To find out what characterizes each category – and what yours is – you can take his chronotype quiz, which is free and takes a couple minutes to finish. I’m a lion, if you’re curious.

Once you know that, you’ll be able to use the information in this episode more effectively!

Of course, I’m not going to interview a sleep doctor and just talk about chronotypes. In this episode, you’ll also learn about a lot of other things that affect sleep quality – blue light, exercise, caffeine, and more. We also dig into polyphasic sleep schedules a bit. Enjoy!

Things mentioned in this episode:

Want more cool stuff? You can find all sorts of great tools at my Resources page.

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The Science Behind Getting Better Sleep

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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5 Comments:
  1. I have a hard time listening to podcasts, I don’t know how to put them well on my phone or set time aside to listen to them or anything. But I forced myself with this one…and damn it was worth it.

    I’ll try to keep listening 😉

  2. This was a very interesting piece (not that your others are boring, this one is just extremely relevant to me right now). So I don’t know if you know, or if you talked with him about this outside of the podcast. I took the quiz three times, twice with answers based off the fact that I have a sleep disorder (from an external cause, not genetic, that I’m working on correcting) and again as though my sleep disorder has been properly managed (or when it was). With the first, I got Dolphin and then I changed two answers (two of the three sort of fit me and the third did not for both) and got Bear, then with the last one I got Lion. So I am very curious as to why my answers very so much.

  3. I just wanted to tell you I think it’s awesome what your doing with your website, podcast, and youtube channel. Please keep doing it, all the content you have put out has really helped me become a better and more motivated student. Also I think this weeks podcast is probably my favorite one I’ve listened to so far. Keep up the great work!

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