Michael Breus | The Power of When (Episode 585)

Michael Breus | The Power of When (Episode 585)

Michael Breus | The Power of When (Episode 585)

Michael Breus (@thesleepdoctor) is a clinical psychologist, board-certified sleep specialist, and author of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype — and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More.

“Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep.” -Michael Breus

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Do you live with an undiagnosed sleep disorder? Evolution suggests such disorders are becoming increasingly common.
  • Anybody who has over a 17 and-a-half inch neck has about an 82% chance of having sleep apnea. And 56% of people at some point during an average week will have a bad night’s sleep.
  • Why do some people tackle the world best as early birds while others are more effective as night owls?
  • What’s your chronotype: are you a lion, a bear, a wolf, or a dolphin?
  • Learn how living according to your own chronotype can make dramatic improvements to your life in as little as a week (even if your significant other’s chronotype doesn’t match yours).
  • And so much more…


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Do you consider yourself an early bird or a night owl? These are two examples of what chronobiology calls chronotypes; according to sleep specialist and clinical psychologist Michael Breus, the truth can be a little more complex.

Michael joins us to talk about his latest book The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype — and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. Listen, learn, take the quiz to discover your own chronotype, and determine when you’re poised for maximum efficiency.

More About This Show

Why is it that some of us seem to hit the ground running as soon as the sun comes up, while others don’t really get in the zone until the sun’s about to set? Michael Breus, author of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype — and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More, has about 17 years of experience with decoding this phenomenon.

As an insomnia specialist, he has numerous ways of addressing the difficulty most people have from time to time when they can’t get a good night’s sleep. But a patient came to him a few years ago with an interesting — though not unheard-of — problem.

“My day would be perfect if I could go to bed at two and wake up at nine,” she told him.

The problem? Not only did she believe her family life would be too disrupted, but her boss was certain to take issue with the demand for a special schedule — and she was pretty sure he was on the verge of firing her anyway (which turned out to be true). This prompted Michael to contact her boss directly and propose an experiment: allow her to clock in and out just two hours later than usual to see if it made any difference in her performance.

In just a week, her boss reported his previously problem employee was suddenly showing up to work on time, participating in meetings, producing quality work, and not falling asleep at her desk. Her value as an employee had improved so noticeably in such a short amount of time that her job was no longer in jeopardy.

On the home front, her husband — a man Michael had never met before — said bluntly to him on the phone: “I like my wife more now!”

This one successful experiment led Michael to dig through medical literature documenting more than 350 studies on chronotypes — biological clocks governing natural rhythms (such as sleep cycles) that vary from subject to subject. If you think of yourself as a night owl, your chronotype likely differs from someone who identifies as an early bird.

“We used to think there were just two [chronotypes],” says Michael. “I didn’t believe that. I thought there were four. So I went looking and there are people who are early morning people — I call them lions. There are people who are night people — I call them wolves (by the way, I’m a wolf. I rarely go to bed before midnight). There are people in the middle — I call them bears. And then there are my insomniacs — kind of my problem sleepers — and I call them dolphins.

“I chose animal archetypes that actually mimic these patterns in their daily lives. Lions have a tendency to get up…and have their first kill before dawn. Bears kind of get up with the sun and go to sleep with the sun. Wolves are very nocturnal creatures; they hunt in packs at night. And dolphins, believe it or not, sleep unihemispherically. Half of their brain is asleep while the other half is awake and looking for predators.

“You can take this quiz online, and I figured out how to put you in one of these four categories. Once I know what category you’re in, I can actually look at your hormone distribution. And once I know your hormone distribution, I match it up to daily activities. I can tell you the best time to have sex, eat a cheeseburger, run a mile, ask your boss for a raise — you name it.”

Curious about your own chronotype? Take The Power of When Quiz here!

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about the science of sleep apnea, why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can never get into the swing of being a morning person, commonalities between people who occupy particular chronotypes, how a lion might schedule a day for best performance, how people with differing chronotypes can still have a relationship, what to make of your quiz results if they differ from your usual lifestyle, how to identify and address adrenal fatigue, how companies benefit by mapping employee chronotypes and understanding when they’re at their most productive, how we might hack our chronotype if it’s not ideal for our lifestyle, and lots more.


If you enjoyed this session with Michael Breus, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Michael Breus at Twitter!

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