The Bear’s Necessities
As we conclude our Individual Chronotype sleep series, we’ll explore the Bear’s necessities. What must Bears do—or not do—to enjoy optimum sleep and maximum productivity? Some would say Bears have all the luck. At 55% of the population, the Bear Chronotype is in the majority—they have a strong sleep drive—and they tend to sleep easy. Society’s social calendar bows to their bio-time preferences for worktime, mealtime, playtime… So, they’ve got it made, right?
When the Bear works in cooperation with all their natural biorhythms, life can be one big honeypot. But this would mean following schedules, and the laid-back Bear isn’t really fond of schedules. Even with the sleep/wake cycle advantage, they are not necessarily always synced with all their body’s other bio clocks. Bears are quite lucky with sleep, but they do have their own challenges to deal with. We’ll take a look at the Bear’s needs, and learn how they can make better lifestyle choices, reclaim their easy sleep advantage, and live healthier lives. But first, a quick review of Chronotypes…
Chronotypes in brief
Our DNA traits manifest in our sleeping patterns and behaviors. Some of us sleep like a rock, awaken early, and proceed to take over the world (or at least our own little corner of it.) Others slumber in fits-and-starts, and when morning comes… it’s a slog through the fog. Some of us live to eat—some simply eat to live. Naps are great for one person—and the worst idea ever for another.
The reason for the differences in these patterns and behaviors, centers around the time—both physical and biological time. To be more precise, it’s all about “the best time,” to do any of the numerous activities that make up your 24-hour day—based on your Individual bio-rhythms.
Relatable stories and advice on working with your own chronobiology can be found in ‘The Power of When’ by Sleep Doctor Michael Breus, PhD. It provides a wealth of tips for improved sleep which will help you live a happier, more productive life.
Lion, Dolphin, Bear or Wolf?
Each Archetype has its own best times for going to sleep and waking up; for eating, exercising, learning, conducting business meetings—or talking with the kids. If you haven’t identified your chronotype, be sure to take the free quiz developed by Dr. Breus. Knowing which times during the day your body is programmed to function better for particular actions allows you to do things more efficiently, and more easily.
Your body is programmed to function better for performing particular actions at certain times of the day.
Is your Chronotype the Bear?
The Bear is the Chronotype that most closely follows the sun—biologically, they typically gear up at dawn and begin to wind down when the sun sets. The majority of adults under age 65 belong to this chronotype and society has adopted their bio-time as the norm—that makes a degree of sense actually. If over half the population wakes up at the same time, is ready to eat at the same time—and falls asleep at the same time, who’s going to argue?
You probably wouldn’t get much satisfaction arguing with a Bear anyway as they tend to avoid conflict and drama.
Here’s how to recognize the Bear…
Bear Personality Traits
- Avoids Conflict
- Continuous mellow energy
- Get-it-done attitude
- Likes the familiar
- Prioritizes happiness
- Team player
Sleep Challenges for the Bear
Bears are notorious for under-sleeping during the workweek and then trying to make that sleep up on weekends. One of the primary Bear’s necessities is keeping to a regular sleep schedule. Inconsistency in their sleep pattern will cause them to be perpetually out of sync with their biorhythms.
Bears struggle to stick with a regular, daily exercise schedule (again, Bears and schedules...) This creates a two-fold problem as it leads to sleep deprivation, and packs on extra weight in their midsections.
Bears value meaningful social interaction. Any serious upheaval in their social routines can deeply affect their mood. This causes them stress and puts them at risk of oversleeping—or uncharacteristic bouts of Insomnia.
Productivity Challenges for the Bear
- Is it almost impossible for you to start new tasks after lunch?
- Do you start your days with an amazing burst of energy only to have that energy start dissipating like a slow-leaking balloon until you feel absolutely flat?
- Do you stay up late watching your favorite show and then wake up fuzzy-headed in the morning?
As Bears learn to work within a routine, they will be able to extend their energy levels and get more work done, with less stress. We’ll dig deeper into the Bear’s necessities, but first some general sleep and productivity tips…
FACT: Coffee first thing in the morning is not going to wake you up. Nor will it make you alert… or give your energy a boost.
Sleep & Productivity Tips for All Chronotypes
1—Treat Caffeine like the drug it is—just say NO for the first two hours of your day.
It may be a legal stimulant but like most drugs, you need more and more of it to get that boost you’re looking for. During the first two hours after you awaken, the only thing caffeine will do is increase your tolerance for caffeine.
Just prior to waking up, the body’s adrenal gland produces a potent cocktail of cortisol and adrenaline to stimulate your energy and get your heart pumping. This gland maintains what is called the cortisol rhythm. Governed by its own biological clock, it releases and suppresses ones’ fight-or-flight hormones throughout the day.
Drinking coffee while your cortisol is high is pointless—you’ll only see energy effects when your cortisol levels are lower—then the caffeine will prompt the adrenaline release needed to make you feel more alert.
Bears: No morning coffee before 9:30 AM—wrap your paws around your water bottle instead!
For everyone: Absolutely no caffeine within six hours of your bedtime. Dolphins take note: this is especially true for you… as well as for anyone dealing with sleep or stress issues.
2—Do a Social Media Detox—it helps reduce anxiety and boosts productivity.
Feel happier and sleep better—According to a recent study, taking a week-long break from social media can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression (both of which interfere with sleep.) Researchers studied 154 people ages 18-72 and reported they experienced an increased sense of well-being when they stopped using platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for seven days.
Take back your time—Notably, while reporting they spent approximately eight hours per week on social media prior to beginning this study, participants achieved a significant reduction in time spent on social media upon completion of the 1-week break. In fact, after the 7-days, they were down from 8-hours to only 21 minutes per week on average. They effectively regained a full work day each week! Something to think about.
Improve your outlook—Most importantly, this social media respite left participants with fewer mood issues and less overall anxiety. They also responded more positively to well-being statements—and showed optimism about the future. Additionally noted was an ability to think more clearly.
Get rid of your FOMO and LIVE more—Fear of missing out can control your life if you let it. Or, you can begin living in the now and get more satisfaction out of each day. What will benefit you more—scrolling mindlessly—or taking a walk at sunset? Responding to a snarky post—or paying attention to the person beside you?
Here’s how to start your social media detox…
- Set a goal to reduce your overall social media time
- Prioritize the channels that serve your interests or entertain you
- Disengage from any platforms that cause you stress
- Focus more on your life—and less on what others have—or do
What’s better—sharing a pizza with friends, or receiving someone’s pizza pix post? Taking a break from social media frees up time for in-person sharing. Besides, virtual eating isn’t even a thing… yet.
3—Eat at the right times—it will help you sleep better, feel better, and get more done.
Generally speaking, we all know we shouldn’t eat too close to bedtime. And we know that what we eat can either help support our sleep—or wreak havoc with our digestive system and keep us awake. We need to also remember what we eat during the earlier hours of the day, plays a role in how we manage our energy levels throughout the day.
Most importantly, we need to eat all our meals at consistent times—and make sure those mealtimes are in sync with our biorhythms—this will help ensure more efficient sleep, extend our energy resources, and assist with weight goals.
Case in point
Dr Breus relates the story of Ann, a Wolf chronotype who had “tried every diet out there,” but when she changed her dinner time to sync with her natural biorhythm, she suddenly dropped five pounds.
4—Make the most of your Peak-Productivity times—you can do twice as much in less time.
Taking advantage of your productivity windows will help you shine and will also reduce your stress.
Each of the chronotypes has peak periods during the day when they’re able to get the most done—and do it to the best of their ability. Take Lions, for instance. From mid-morning until noon, their minds are the sharpest and most analytical—so they’re at their best for making arguments, solving problems and presenting ideas.
Of course, by 1:00 PM, they’re usually running on fumes—but that’s okay. Lions are up early and hit the ground running. While a Wolf has barely settled into their day by lunchtime, a Lion may have already worked a full 8-hours. Managing your energy also means leaving fewer things undone at the end of the workday. Unresolved tasks and issues can prevent you from being able to relax and go to sleep at your fixed bedtime.
5—Did you know being kind increases productivity? And it’s not just yours…
I like to think kindness is its own reward, but according to Inc magazine, there are compelling, research-backed reasons that playing nice also makes for better productivity. The article even goes so far as to say it will help you be more successful; citing the following reasons…
- Exhibiting warmth makes you more influential: Harvard Business Review: “Connect, Then Lead”
- Generosity helps your productivity—and also helps your colleagues work more effectively: HBR: “In the Company of Givers and Takers”
- Being nice builds trust: When we all treat each other kindly, it increases openness and cooperation—work is less of a chore—and more gets done.
Smiling—an effective sleep and wellness tool
A simple smile can facilitate efficient project coordination and problem-solving in your workplace. But what else does it do for you personally?
- Smiling is a Stress Reliever
- Smiling is an Immunity Booster
- Smiling lowers Blood Pressure
- Smiling Eases Pain
- Smiling makes you Feel Good
All of which make good sleep a lot easier to come by—guess we all know what to do more of.
Bears: You excel in this area. You’re naturally great leaders who like to work hard and play hard. You’re very social, affable, and listen well—so you can normally relate effectively to your work team, friends and family. Keep spreading those good vibes!
Taking rest breaks is essential for Bears when they hit an energy slump—
“Powering through” will only hurt their productivity but the right, perfectly timed break will help them breeze through the rest of their day.
The Bear’s Necessities Checklist
Quality of life is important to the Bear. They make happiness a priority and generally don’t practice habits that are going to interfere with a happy, smooth-running, daily existence. Still, there are some lifestyle tips Bears should focus on to boost their energy levels and enhance their productivity…
Consider Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a good way to optimize your energy. Establish a 12-hour fasting window with the right breakfast at around 8:00 AM. Finish with a lighter dinner by 8:00 in the evening.
Enough with the Procrastinating!
Like Lions, Bear chronotypes are morning people who like to get things done—the Bear just isn’t in as much of a rush to get started. Bears need to watch this as missing their productivity windows is part of their problem.
The Bear’s laid-back way of easing into things might sometimes be perceived as laziness.What’s more likely is that they stayed up past their bedtime and are having a hard time functioning… but their strong work ethic will ensure the job gets done.
Interestingly, I recently read somewhere that procrastination is rarely the result of laziness. The author suggested fear is what’s really at the heart of putting things off—huh? I thought.
Here’s the gist. Any of us can paralyze our productivity by overthinking or worrying that we won’t be able to do something as well as it needs to be done—and those of us with perfectionist tendencies do exactly that. In fact, it seems many of us only get things done when the fear of doing nothing at all finally outweighs the fear of not doing that thing well.
All chronotypes should take note.
Scale your Meals
For Bears, Dr. Breus recommends an old adage to help you consume the best size portions—at the best time of the day: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper…
- Begin your day with a protein-rich breakfast—it should be your largest meal of the day
- Reduce your lunch size to half that of your breakfast portion
- Make dinner one fourth the size of your breakfast
Take your Rest Breaks
Bears should not try to push through their day without breaks when they feel an energy slump. By being in tune with their energy levels and resting when they need to, they’ll feel better and be much more productive. Afternoon naps, meditation breaks—or even short social interactions—are necessary so they can refresh and return to their tasks once their energy is replenished.
Stick to Your Workouts
An early AM burst of exercise helps Bears wake up—don’t skip this as the further you get into your day, the more likely you are to lose your motivation. In fact, by the time noon rolls around, all bets are off.
Choose to workout outside, where Bears will get the added benefit of sunshine to boost their vitamin D levels and get their minds and bodies primed for the day ahead. Even better for Bears would be to have several short exercises bouts before and after each meal.
This will simultaneously boost your metabolism—and lower your appetite—which will help control that snacking tendency of yours.
Finally, always maintain your Social Ties
While all chronotypes have a need for connecting socially, Bears become stressed and depressed without their regular social interaction. Find moments in your day to catch up with those around you—schedule quality time with family and friends…
Take care to feed your need for togetherness and community—it’s at the core of who you are.
A Good Day for a Bear
7:00 AM — is the Bear’s Ideal wake-up time. Don’t even think about smacking that snooze button!
7:00-7:30 – Get straight to exercising to raise your cortisol level and get your heart pumping. This is likely to be a challenge for you, so you may have to work up to it. Whatever you do, don’t skip it—5 minutes is better than none.
7:30 – Feast on a high-protein, low carb breakfast. It’s not coffee time for you yet though so stick with water
8:00 – to 9:00 is commute time—if you followed through on the exercise, you’re alert and in good form for a safe drive. If you’re working from home, don’t dilly dally—get a head-start on your projects
9:00 – 10:00 is a good time for you to organize your plans for the day and it will help you keep focused on meeting your goals
9:30 – Enjoy a cup of coffee if you like—just be sure to cut it off by 11:00
10:00 Am – until Noon is your Maximum Productivity window. Stay focused and on-task to make the most of this window.
12:00 PM – Take a short, brisk walk before eating a balanced, medium-size meal. Remember, it should be half the size of your breakfast, and twice the size of your dinnertime meal. Follow your meal with a 10-minute walk.
1:00 – 2:30 you should still be feeling alert and able to accomplish work easily before feeling an energy drop.
2:30 – 2:50 should be used for napping if you need it. If not, opt for some quiet meditation time—or do some deep-breathing exercise.
3:00 – 6:00 is your Peak Mood window. Make the most of your positive attitude to communicate in meetings, initiate phone contacts or send out emails.
4:00 – if you feel you need a snack, this is the time to have it—25% protein/75% carbs–and remember, it’s a snack, not a meal so keep it to 250 calories max.
5:00 – While your mood is at a high and you’re feeling agreeable, sort out any differences or disagreements with others for a better chance at positive outcomes.
6-7:00 pm Bears are at their athletic peak—this is the best time to do your most vigorous workout
6:30 – 8:30 is your Happy Hour window. Go ahead and enjoy some social time with friends—just don’t over-indulge—and no alcohol past 8:30 to protect your sleep.
7:00 – is your best time for dinner. A small bowl of soup or stew accompanied by a salad is ideal.
8:00 – 10:00 – your Social window is still open. Enjoy light conversation and laughter with friends and follow it up with a hot bath.
10:00 – means it’s time to turn off all your screens. This is your perfect wind-down time—meditating, stretching—or other relaxation rituals will help prepare you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
11:00 – It’s time for sleep! Be sure to get to bed on time so you get your full 8-hours and wake up with better energy.
Final reminders on the Bear’s necessities…
The Bear’s Sleep Goals:
- Getting an adequate supply of sleep and physical exercise during the week
- Shifting eating rhythms to speed up your metabolism and take off extra pounds
- Increasing energy expenditure during the afternoons and evenings through strategic napping and physical activity
Bears who commit to following these routines, who keep physically active—who eat in moderation—and on a schedule, will transform their sleep and lives.
Thanks for joining us on this journey to better sleep and productivity!
Hope all of you have been implementing—and benefitting from, the Tips we’ve covered in this chronotype series. In the coming weeks, we’ll be digging deeper into the types, causes, symptoms and ramifications of Insomnia. In these posts, you will find interesting insights and helpful solutions for dealing with the many variations of this rampant sleep disorder.
Wishing you all the best sleep!
Until next time…