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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