Finding your sweet spot when it comes to nailing down your optimal sleep schedule can be a tricky thing. There’s always just one more email to read before bed, that post on Instagram to check out, and just… life happening 24/7. But, perhaps even more important: Your sleep struggles might be linked to your individual sleep type. According to a study to be published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, there’s more to the sleep puzzle than being a night owl or morning person. In fact, experts now say that there are four different sleep personality types. If you’re not a night person or an early riser by nature, trying to conform to a sleep schedule that doesn’t work for you can mean that you’re not resting as well as you could be. Knowing where you fall on the personality type sleep spectrum can help.
Researchers have suspected for some time that sleep types might be more varied than previously thought. The community survey of 1,305 people conducted by the study’s authors found that afternoon sleepiness, and the urge to nap every day, were not uncommon among some sleep personality types, also called chronotypes. While not quite night owls or morning types, afternoon types have their own unique sleep rhythm, according to the study. Afternoon-ers have energy dips in the morning and evening, while their energy tends to peak between noon and early evening, Insider reports. Conversely, if you’re a napper, you tend to get drowsy between 11 am and 3 pm, and are energized in the mornings and at night.
Insider writes that, according to study lead author Arcady Putilov, a specialist in biomedical systems and sleep medicine, while most people seem to primarily fall into the night owl or morning lark chronotype categories, ‘woodcocks’ and ‘swifts’ show even more variation. “Such tools for unidimensional assessment of morning-evening preference do not account for those who are sleepy all day round and who are alert all day round," Putilov told Insider. While woodcocks are tired pretty much all the time, swifts feel energized from the moment they wake up until their head hits the pillow at night, Insider says.
Identifying your sleep type may help you improve your sleep. Insider reports that if you’re a ‘morning lark’, you are most energized from 9 am to 11 am, and are pretty wiped out by bedtime. Night owls, on the other hand, aren’t fully alert until around 10 am, and don’t get sleepy until the wee hours. As a night owl, you might also find that you feel extra productive in the evening hours.
No matter what your sleep type is, knowing that variations exist may help you establish the schedule that works best for you. While the demands of work and daily life can present challenges to you if your cycle of sleep and wakefulness doesn’t quite fit, knowing the rhythm that works best for you can help you know where to customize your routine where you’re able to.