If you’re aiming to sort out your sleep schedule and quality in 2023, there’s one thing you absolutely must know in order to achieve it, says one sleep expert.
In the Zoe Study’s latest episode of their podcast ‘Science and Nutrition’, the team spoke with sleep expert and author of Why We Sleep, Professor Matthew Walker to learn about improving the quality of our shut eye.
When quizzed on his top tips for achieving a healthy sleeping pattern, Prof. Walker stressed that knowing your ‘chronotype’ is crucial.
Your chronotype is your body’s natural inclination to sleep at a certain time - think of it in terms of whether you’re a night owl or an early bird.
“You need to sleep in harmony with your chronotype to get the best sleep,” explains Prof. Walker.
“For example, I’m somewhere in the middle and quite neutral - I’m between an 11pm to 1130pm bedtime to a 7am - 730am wake up time, which puts me in the neutral category.
“If I was to go to bed at 9pm and then wake up eight hours later, or go to bed at 4am and wake up eight hours later versus my neutral eight hour sleep window, it’ll make a big difference.
“You might think ‘but it’s still eight hours of sleep’, but the difference is is that with one of these options I’m sleeping in sync with what my biological rhythms want me to do and the other times I’m out of sync and won’t sleep as well.”
According to Prof. Walker, an easy way to determine which chronotype you are is to pose the following question to yourself: “If I was on a desert island, with no pressures or reasons to go to bed or wake up, what time do I think I’d like to go to bed at and what time would I like to wake up at?”
Your answer could well be very different to the time you currently have to get up at due to work and other commitments - so your morning sleepiness at your alarm going off could all be down to you forcing your body to rise at a time it’s not biologically designed for (we’ll be using this as excuse for being sleepy forever, thanks Prof).
You can also find out your chronotype here - a site recommended by Prof. Walker himself.