How Wolves can Thrive in a Bear’s World
What if your internal clock was totally mis-matched to the inherent schedules of all those around you? If you’re a Wolf chronotype, you know what it’s like to try and function within a seemingly alien daily schedule—and this timing conflict may be leading to health issues, work problems, and troubled relationships. It’s not your fault—so stop blaming yourself—instead, let’s learn how Wolves can thrive in a Bear’s world…
Let me guess, you can’t fall asleep or wake up when the world thinks you should; it’s impossible to focus during “normal” work hours… when you’re ready to converse, the other person is ready for sleep… and, you may have packed on a few extra pounds to boot. The Wolf’s biological schedule is diametrically opposed to society’s generally adapted schedule—causing them no end of frustration, and potentially, a mountain of health and social challenges.
This post is Part 3 in our Individual Chronotype series. If you’ve been following along, you’re familiar with the core principle in Chronobiology—timing is everything. For each individual chronotype, there is a “best time” for them to perform each of the daily functions that make up their 24-hour cycle. Think DNA level here.
Much if not most of what we’ll cover is based on the book ‘The Power of When’ by renowned sleep specialist, Dr. Michael Breus—regularly referred to as the Sleep Doctor. The guiding principle is, when we work with—not against—our natural biorhythms, we’re able to achieve considerable health benefits. In fact, we’re able to thrive—not just survive—on the Bear-regulated time schedule… regardless of chronotype.
There is a “Best Time” to do everything—get in sync with your natural biorhythms for better sleep & productivity.
Here’s what all chronotypes can expect to achieve when they start working in cooperation with their body’s natural rhythms…
- Better Sleep
- Improved Cognition
- Mood Regulation
- Greater Productivity
- Less Stress
- Stronger Immunity
- Happier Relationships
If you haven’t discovered your individual chronotype, you’re missing out on vital information that can improve not just your sleep quality—but your overall quality of life.
Discovering and embracing your chronotype
Doctor Breus helps people identify their individual chronobiology and walks them through a range of daily activities—actually giving specific times for when they will get the most benefit from these actions. By embracing this process, you’ll find these individual actions are not only easier to perform, but you’ll also see more efficient results from your daily activities.
It’s up to each chronotype archetype to identify their individual problem areas and seek ways to conquer those challenges. Once you wrap your head around the fact that your circadian rhythm affects more than just your sleep, you’ll be able to plan your days for maximum productivity across all your functions from your health habits—to work performance—to sociability. Sleep Specialists and Productivity Coaches can make this process a lot smoother—ask for help if you need it.
All chronotypes can struggle with sleep and/or productivity issues
Believe it or not, even Bears need guidance to thrive in a “Bear’s world!”
Lions, though disciplined and predisposed to sleeping well—find that like the Wolf, their sleep schedules complicate their social interactions–which can leave them frustrated and thus impede their sleep.
And then there are the Dolphins’ who struggle with both troubled sleep—and the aftereffects of that poor sleep on their energy levels the following day.
Is getting to work on time a a constant struggle? Your Chronotype might be the Wolf.
Is your chronotype the Wolf?
If all this chronobiology stuff is new to you—or if you don’t know your Individual Chronotype, be sure to take the Sleep Doctor’s free quiz. You’ll get speedy results via email; providing your Chronotype results and some helpful facts and tips you can put to good use immediately to start sleeping better.
Not a Wolf? Phew! Good for you—but remember, no chronotype is trouble-free when it comes to sleep—so stick around for some general sleep tips all chronotypes can use. We’ve also provided tips for Dolphins, and Lions in prior posts—if you’re a Bear—stay tuned for the next post…
As mentioned previously, there are no absolutes. It is common to find you have cross-over habits or personality traits assigned to another archetype; Bears are particularly likely to find they are hybrids. In these cases, it’s especially nice to have expert input. Start taking charge of your sleep by taking the Quiz above. You can also sign up at the same time to receive the Sleep Doctor’s free newsletter for regular sleep insights.
Wolf Chronotype Characteristics
Wolves make up 15-20 % of our population. You’ll find these characteristics in the Wolf Chronotype…
- Emotionally Intense
- Family Focused
- Divergent Thinking
Wolf Sleep Challenges
Because the Wolf’s chronobiology is at odds with accepted social norms, their sleep challenges are greater than most. In a perfect world, we would all be able to simply follow our natural DNA-guided preferences—but it’s just not that easy. For Wolves, whose natural inclination is to work when the rest of us are sleeping and sleep when the rest of us are working, the challenge can easily become a nightmare.
Wolves’ atypical schedules make it difficult to establish and stick to optimum sleep practices—putting them at greater risk for chronic disease, mood disorders and depression. Additionally problematic is their inability to turn off their overactive minds and allow themselves to fall asleep.
These issues can make it hard for Wolves to survive—much less thrive—in a Bear’s world. Let’s start with some general tips Wolves, and all Chronotypes, can use for better sleep and productivity.
Slow-digesting carbs will help your body begin to calm down. Eating after 8:00 pm will help curb the Wolves’ tendency toward late- night snacking.
5 Sleep and Productivity Tips we can all use
1–Alcohol and sleep don’t mix—
Sleep experts warn us to cut off alcohol in the evening if we want to get a good night’s sleep. This is particularly true of “ binge-drinking”—which some of us may, or may not have participated in over the recent holiday season…
Aside from the usual next-day productivity issues (headaches, dizziness, nausea, tiredness from poor sleep…) consuming alcohol can contribute to and worsen depression and anxiety which are known sleep inhibitors. Alcohol, even in moderate amounts, interferes with REM sleep and affects both sleep quality and sleep duration. Insomnia is also a common side effect—as is a worsening of sleep apnea symptoms.
Being disciplined about late-night alcohol consumption can be a struggle for Wolves after a long day of following the rules, but that nightcap just isn’t worth it from a sleep perspective. According to Dr Breus, the Wolf is the chronotype that suffers the most extreme circadian disruption from alcohol, and they also experience more frequent hangover symptoms.
2— “D” is Key—
What’s often chalked up to “Winter Blues” is actually a disorder that wreaks havoc across all our body’s systems. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has a negative influence on
- Appetite control
- Cognitive ability
- Energy reserves
- Mood regulation
- Psychological wellness
- Sleep quality
- Social behaviors
- Weight gain
Ten million Americans seek treatment for SAD each year—millions more, suffer in silence. SAD is caused by a number of factors, but the key factor is insufficient exposure to sunlight resulting in a lack of vitamin D absorption through the skin. Wolves are the most likely chronotype to fall prey to SAD in Winter. They will benefit by getting out in the sun as much as possible, consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and practicing meditation to naturally boost serotonin.
Whenever you can, take your exercise outdoors to get an extra vitamin D boost.
3—Get smarter about your smart phone—
Executive coach, Gloria M Miele, PhD recommends ditching your cell phone when you need to focus on a demanding task. Reducing distractions allows you to give all your attention to the project at hand—which also helps reduce stress. Be sure to also put it away at least an hour before bed to avoid the effects of sleep-disrupting blue light.
4—Immunity boosting through sleep—
As Dr Breus states in ‘The Power of When’ “Immunity improves at night but only if you’re actually asleep!” He names 2:00 AM as the worst time to fight off illness; saying if you’re awake at that hour, you’re not getting enough high-quality sleep—which could compromise your immune system.
Did you know getting enough quality sleep is as important to your immune system as avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and eating too much junk food? Make sure you’re getting the sleep you need to stave off winter illnesses. For Wolves, you should be getting in your 7-hours from 12:30 AM – 7:30 AM and be sure to keep it consistent.
5— Maintain social connections—
Studies have shown a positive correlation between social interaction and improved sleep quality—particularly in older adults. Researchers noted less sleep fragmentation and less time spent awake after sleep onset. Human differences aside, socializing with others gives us a positivity boost, and when we’re free of negative thoughts, it’s easier to fall asleep.
As we age, social connectedness can suffer due to a number of factors including health and mobility issues—and, not the least of which—poor sleep. In fact, when people are sleepy, it can decrease social contact by as much as 70%. So, as we often find, here’s yet another bi-directional relationship. Our social life affects our quality of sleep… and sleep quality affects our social life.
Make an extra effort to stay connected—it’s worth it. Maintaining a healthy level of social interaction helps keep depression at bay when life is throwing curve balls.
Make an effort to stay connected —socializing with others gives us a positivity boost.
How can Wolves thrive in a Bears world?
Wolves can gain an an advantage in the workplace by understanding and working with their chronobiology— and capitalizing on their innate strengths. Known for their creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, the Wolf has a competitive edge—thanks to their
- two creative periods during the workday rather than one
- keen analytical minds
- high-productivity (once the fog lifts)
- ability to handle unpredictability
A Good Day for a Wolf
Wolves should start preparing for a good night’s sleep immediately upon waking. Make sure you’re allotting 7 hours of sleep each night—and remember, consistency is essential. Be sure to keep these goals in mind as you work toward accomplishing your sleep and productivity goals…
Daily goals for the Wolf
- Improve your energy efficiency during working hours
- Speed up your metabolism by eating the right thing at the right time
- Increase your length of sleep time per night
- Stabilize your mood swings so you enjoy life more
Your biggest sleep challenge will most likely be tuning out your overactive brain so you can relax and fall asleep. Make sure you use up all your physical and creative energy before bedtime—and create a regular wind-down routine—to relax both your body and mind.
Maintaining a mindfulness attitude will help you ace your day and be ready to settle into peaceful sleep when it’s time for bed. If you find your mind is still racing, give our Noise Masking earbuds a try—the Pink Noise playing in the earbuds is just the thing to calm your brain and lull you to sleep.
It’s your day to Thrive…
You’re the only chronotype that is going to actually benefit from hitting that snooze button so if you need to, give yourself an extra 20 minutes in bed…
7:00 – 7:20 AM—Wake up and hydrate to keep your chrono-gears running smoothly.
Your creative thought processes already have a head-start—grab your sleep journal or notebook and record those bright ideas—then enjoy a cool shower and get dressed and ready to rock.
8:00—Enjoy a high-protein breakfast—sorry, no coffee before 11:00 AM!
Get out in the sun for 15 minutes to boost your vitamin D—if possible, combine it with a short brisk walk to boost your energy
Take time to organize your thoughts and plans for the day ahead. This isn’t your most productive time—but that doesn’t mean it should be wasted. Get yourself prepared to shine when those energy peaks arrive.
11:00—It’s coffee time! (No snacks as carbs will make you sluggish.)
Put the busy-making work aside and start getting into tasks that require a little more focus.
1:00 PM— it’s time for a balanced lunch. Share it with colleagues—you’re in good form mentally and ready for engaging conversation.
2:00—This is your cutoff time for all caffeinated beverages (decaf included.) From now until 4:00 PM you are experiencing your first energy peak of the day. Jump on any important tasks and complete as much work as possible. Stay focused. Remove any distractions like tech devices—isolate yourself if need be—this is your best time period for getting things done.
2:15—This is your Ideal Naptime—but only take one if you really need it.
Note: Naps are not recommended for Wolves who are looking to thrive in the Bear’s world. Remember, the goal is to be able to fall asleep by midnight and get a full 7 hours of quality sleep. *Also, while this is your best naptime—it also occurs during your best time for accomplishing important tasks that require concentration. So, don’t make it a habit.
4:00—Now you can have a 250-calorie snack. Make it 25% protein / 75% carbs. Use your post-snack time to connect and interact with others whose energy levels have dropped and are beginning to wind down their workday. This is a good time to call meetings, send emails, or reach out by phone.
6:00-7:00 PM—Is the perfect time for you to exercise. Your muscles are already warm—and it’s still early enough that you won’t have to worry about it delaying your sleep.
8:00—It’s Happy Hour—which could mean having a drink—or just doing something that makes you happy. For Wolves, who place a high focus on their “pack,” you may prefer to socialize with friends, catch up on the day’s events with your partner, or spend quality time with the kids.
8:00-9:00 PM—Is your best dinner time—having some carbs now will calm you down and start getting you ready for sleep.
*This delayed dinner hour is going to prevent your tendency to binge on unhealthy snacks later!
Reminder: Eating out of sync with your bio-time is going to pile on the pounds as it creates metabolic dysfunction—which triggers inflammation and oxidation. These effects lead to nearly every known disease but specifically to heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
Stay focused on the “when” rather than the “what” when it comes to eating. You’ll be surprised to find improvements in your weight with this new focus.
Late evening—is when you experience your best mood of the day—enjoy it by doing something fun. You’re also reaching your second productivity peak, so if you left things undone during the day, this could be a good time for catching up so you’re not fretting about them when you lay down to sleep.
10:00 A warm bath will help you begin to wind down and prepare your body to be able to fall asleep more easily.
Post-bath—turn off all screens and begin your evening pre-sleep ritual. Light reading, listening to music, breathing techniques and meditation are all good options to help your mind and body relax. *If your mind begins to run amok with new ideas, jot them down in your journal—and then leave them alone until tomorrow.
12:00 AM—It’s time for sleep!
Maintaining your Thrive-ability
Following this schedule consistently should allow you to fall asleep more easily each night by midnight—providing the requisite 7 hours of sleep—and enabling you to thrive in the Bear’s domain. Here are two final suggestions for Wolves…
1—Don’t let social and personal expectations stress you out
Wolves are not oblivious to how others view their schedule behaviors and fear the stigma so often attached to those who function outside societal norms. The typical workplace environment can be overwhelming for anyone but is often especially uncomfortable for Wolves—what with those annoying Lions and Bears who are never late to the office.
If they worry too much about others’ opinions, Wolves become stressed and sometimes adopt a negative self-image—thinking maybe they really do lack motivation—or that they might just simply be lazy. Usually neither is the case—they’re just wired differently.
Some astute Managers have realized that not everyone fits neatly into the 9-5 norm and are adjusting schedules accordingly. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we’ll be seeing new “norms” that will allow more people to perform at their best. In the meantime, Wolves will thrive in the workplace when they hold late shift positions—or opt to freelance—which will give them more control over their work hours.
Alternatively, the entrepreneurial route is wide open to the creative, enterprising Wolf. Learning to thrive in the Bear’s world certainly makes life easier, but there’s also the option to create their own, perhaps less-conventional, ventures—where they can more easily fulfill their amazing potential.
In so doing, they not only seize control of their own destinies, but also create exciting new opportunities for the other chronotypes—who might just also be ready for a change of pace from the regular grind…
2—Develop a Mindfulness Mindset
Impulsivity, impatience… rebelliousness—may drive you toward excellence in some areas—but they are traits you need to monitor if you’re serious about your health and happiness. Check out these 5 ways mindfulness meditation is good for your health.
Research shows Mindfulness affects us both mentally and physically. It can improve our moods, help us process emotions more positively—and decrease anxiety and job burnout. It is also being studied for its impact on overall health including positive effects on our hearts, brains and immune systems.
Alright Wolves, you’ve got this—go forth and Thrive!
As always, wishing you amazing sleep—all night, every night. See you next time…