Are you a lion, dolphin, wolf or bear? How to hack your


MOST people classify themselves as an early bird or a night owl.

But it turns out there are four distinct sleep personality animals – and working out which one you are could help you snooze better.

There are four sleep chronotypes - lions, dolphins, bears and wolves


There are four sleep chronotypes – lions, dolphins, bears and wolves

Also called your sleep chronotype, the profiles refer to your preferred daily routine and what time you get tired.

Lions, for example, are classic early risers who wake up naturally at the crack of dawn but whose energy levels dwindle by late afternoon.

Wolves, on the other hand, would rather stay up super late then have breakfast around lunchtime the following day.

Once you know which of the four categories you fall into, you can start to optimise your schedule and eventually beat burnout.

Psychologist Hope Bastine, who works with sleep tech firm Simba, said: “A bit like swimming against a tide, if your daily schedule isn’t aligned with your circadian rhythm, you’re more likely to feel tired.

“So, if you’ve been feeling fatigued and want to try and get a handle on it, becoming more in tune with the natural cycle of your body and underlying chronotype can help you understand if it’s down to your natural circadian rhythm or sleep deprivation.”

The slumber specialist explained that everyone has an individual sleep-wake-productivity pattern over 24 hours – a natural inclination to want to sleep, wake up and get things done and certain times of day.

This circadian rhythm influences everything from body temperature to energy levels throughout the day, and it regulates your metabolism to keep you alert or make you sleepy.

However, not everyone runs on the same biological time – despite us all needing between nine and nine hours of sleep a night.

Some people are wolves and lions, while others are dolphins and bears, Hope said.

Here’s how to figure out your chronotype – and how you can boost your productivity once you know.


Lions are classic early birds; they naturally wake up at the crack of dawn, brimming with energy, and get most of their work done in the morning.

But they start to fizzle by late afternoon, and then the slump is real.

It means they’re tired in time for bed and generally like to nod off fairly early.

Reality TV star Kris Jenner, American actor Mark Wahlberg and Virgin businessman Richard Branson are all said to be lions.

Hope’s tips for a Lion’s daily schedule include:

  • Complete your most challenging work before lunch
  • Focus on lighter tasks in the afternoon
  • Set collaborative work meetings for around midday
  • Be empathetic towards others in the morning
  • Schedule emails for 9am instead of sending them at 5.30am
  • Take a 15-minute walk at 3pm for a blast of fresh air
  • Choose energy-boosting snacks like wholewheat toast, bananas, nuts and yoghurt instead of coffee
  • Get ready for bed from 9pm
  • Take inspiration from books like The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma


The rarest sleep chronotype is the dolphin, thought to make up five to 10 per cent of the population.

Prone to anxious brains, they not only find it hard to fall asleep at night, but they struggle waking too.

This can make it challenging to stick to a routine.

Famous dolphins include author Charles Dickens and playwright William Shakespeare.

To stay on track, Hope, from London, recommends dolphins do the following:

  • Prioritise lighter tasks first thing and in the late afternoon, with heavier tasks concentrated between 10am and 2pm
  • Take magnesium as part of your nightly routine to help you drift off and get better quality sleep
  • Instead of letting your mind whir uncontrollably, dump your negativity into a journal each night to reduce stress
  • Opt for lower impact exercise in the evening to prevent overstimulation
  • Invest in a weighted blanket to lower anxiety and stress levels


Bears represent almost half the population.

They feel tired when it’s dark, alert when it’s light, and fall asleep quite easily.

If you’re a bear, like author Stephen King, you’re most productive mid-morning.

To boost your routine, Hope’s suggestions are:

  • A burst of early morning exercise
  • Avoid caffeine past lunchtime
  • Focus on harder tasks between 10am and 2pm, and lighter ones between 2pm and 4pm
  • Schedule exercise for 6pm to help you wind down
  • Eat plenty of protein and limit carbohydrate intake
  • Go to bed no later than 11pm and aim for eight hours of sleep


Typically known as night owls, wolves like to go to bed late and sleep in.

They do their best work in the evening and early hours of the morning, when most other chronotypes have given up for the day.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian are both said to be wolves.

A wolf should try to do the following, according to Hope:

  • Buy a daylight lamp to gradually wake your body earlier
  • Go for a run or walk before work in the daylight for a natural energy boost
  • Drink coffee in the morning, but avoid it after lunch
  • Focus on lighter tasks between 10am and 1pm
  • Schedule more difficult work between 1pm and 3pm
  • Complete less intense tasks until 5pm
  • Save your most creative tasks for between 5pm and 9pm
  • Try doing a 15-minute wind-down walk at 9pm for a pre-sleep ritual
  • Rather than willing yourself to sleep in silence, or scrolling aimlessly through social media, tune into soundtracks developed specifically for bedtime, such as Night Tracks on BBC Radio 3
  • Don’t idolise early risers – find what’s right for you
  • Schedule emails for ‘normal’ working hours instead of firing them off at 2am
  • Consider working remotely in a different time zone if that’s an option for you

The science behind chronotypes

Scientists have discovered that our genetics play a part in determining our chronotype.

Doctors Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, Nobel Prize winners for physiology and medicine, identified that the PER gene is responsible for proteins that accumulate in cells during the night and then diminish throughout the day.

It’s a little complex, but essentially, if you have a long PER2/3 gene, you’re more likely to be an early riser who needs seven to nine hours of shuteye to perform at your best.

But if you have a shorter PER2/3 gene, you’re more likely to be a late riser who needs slightly less sleep – though you should still be aiming for seven to nine hours.

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Less than five per cent of the population has a rare genetic mutation that means they can get by on around six hours or less and appear healthy.

But the research on this is fairly new, so the long-term consequences of continuous sleep deprivation in these people are unknown.

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