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What Is Your Personal Chronotype And How It Tells When is Your Best Time To Drink Coffee?

What Is Your Personal Chronotype And How It Tells When is Your Best Time To Drink Coffee?

Ah, coffee. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I cannot function (nor do I want to) until I’ve had my coffee. While most people agree with this mindset, for me it has nothing to do with my energy level. In fact, coffee/caffeine doesn’t seem to do much for me as far as that is concerned. In fact, I had three cups of coffee yesterday and was still able to take a nap. Then I woke up and had more! Most people would have been bouncing off the walls, but not me. To be honest, I envy people who have a cup of coffee and are as hyper as a toddler who just ate an entire cake. So how come some people drink coffee and experience productivity and the feeling of being alert, and others are just as tired and irritable after a cup (or three) as before they had any? It turns out it might not be the coffee or the type of caffeine, but rather when you’re enjoying that java.

I’ve heard before that having a cup of coffee right before a nap is the best way to get that boost of energy because the nap gives your body enough time to really take in the caffeine. Therefore, when you wake up, you’re energetic and ready to face the rest of your day. It never really made a ton of sense to me, but after learning more about chronotypes, it seems there may be something to that advice after all.

Chronotypes and You

A chronoytype refers to the behavior you exhibit due to your circadian rhythm. It essentially determines when you need to sleep at any given time in a 24-hour period. [1] I took this quiz to figure out my chronotype and it was eye-opening. As chronotypes go, I’m a lion. I’m up early, energetic and sharpest in the morning. I don’t take big risks and I focus more on getting goals accomplished. Completing tasks gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Just like a real lion, I do my best work earlier in the day (between 10 and 12) and I should snack around 9am and wait to eat lunch until after 12. While often times online quizzes can seem a little off, this one is right on the money.

Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist specializes in sleep disorders. His book, The Power of When, breaks down the four different chronotypes (Dolphin, Lion, Bear, Wolf) based on morning and evening preferences. The book helps readers understand when they should do everything from running a mile to asking for a raise.

Now real Lions may not drink coffee, but as far as chronotypes go, I should enjoy my cup of joe around 8am to 10am and my afternoon cup around 2 or 4. Dr. Breus, the creator of the Chronotype system says, “If you wake up and put coffee, which is a diuretic, in your system, it will just make you more dehydrated. Plus, when you wake up, your level of cortisol is naturally very high. So essentially you’re just putting a not-so-effective stimulant on top of a very effective one. You want to save your coffee for when you start to slow down. [2]

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Coffee and Chronotypes explained

We discussed how lions should enjoy their coffee earlier, but what about the other three types? Dr. Breus’ book goes into extreme detail, but the following can give you an idea of how each type is different.

When it comes to getting caffeinated, Breus says the worst time to have coffee is within two hours of waking and within six hours of bedtime. When you’re sleeping, you breathe out the equivalent of a liter of water. No matter which Chronotype you are, the first beverage you should reach for is H20. And speaking of waking up, there’s an ideal time for that as well.

Dolphins should enjoy their coffee between 8:30-11am or 1-2pm and wake up at 6:30am.

Bears should pour their cup from 9:30-11:30 or 1:30-3:30 and wake up at 7am.

Wolves can sip on their coffee of choice between 12pm and 2pm only and should start their day at 7:30am sharp.

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And of course, us lions can drink coffee from 8-10am and 2-4pm. We get the earliest starts to the day at 5:30-6am.

Some of you may be calculating how early you’re going to have to go to bed now if you’re supposed to get up at that time and wait for coffee. But don’t worry, Breus has figured out when you should go to sleep, too!

“The eight-hour rule is a myth. Most people can get by fine on seven hours of sleep, while dolphins can function with six. What’s most important is consistency and making sure you start mentally preparing for bed (by turning off all screens, winding down, relaxing) a full hour before actually climbing into bed. You shouldn’t get into bed for any reason except for sleep and sex. That will help your mind associate ‘bed’ with ‘sleep.'”

Dolphins should sleep as close to 11:30pm as possible, while lions need to hit the hay at 10pm. Wolves get to stay up until midnight and bears need to start snoozing at 11.

Coffee overload is still dangerous

If you’re like me, you’re feeling inspired to start some new routines with this knowledge, but remember to listen to your body. If you have certain health conditions or medications that make caffeine intake dangerous, don’t go against your doctor’s knowledge because of your chronotype. Instead, adjust your habits accordingly. Maybe you can’t have coffee, or as much as you’d like, but you can still change what time you go to bed and when you wake up. The book is filled with when to do just about everything, so feel free to grab a copy if you’re feeling inspired!

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Share your chronotype with us. In the meantime, I’m off to get a cappuccino!

The effects coffee has on your health

Coffee is delicious, helpful and depending on where you purchase it, an art form! But what is it doing for your body aside from hopefully energizing it?

Coffee Fights Cancer

At one point in time, coffee had a bad reputation for potentially being a carcinogenic. Thankfully, this myth has been busted. In fact, the World Health Organization has determined there’s a 15% reduced risk of liver cancer for each cup of coffee consumed per day. [3]

Coffee can reverse liver-damage

I love a craft cocktail as much as I love a beautifully crafted cup of coffee. Thankfully, drinking coffee may reduce the kind of liver damage over-indulging in alcohol can cause. A recent study found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of liver cirrhosis by about 44%!

Coffee burns fat

Remember, we’re talking about real coffee here, not a thousand calorie frappucino from your favorite coffee chain! A 2013 study found that drinking coffee before physical activity like a workout helps your body burn more fat.

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Coffee helps your recover faster, post-gym

Feeling sore after a workout can provide a great sense of accomplishment. But when you’re so sore you can barely get out of bed, it’s time for coffee! Another 2013 study found that muscle soreness was lessened by ingesting coffee an hour before working out.

Coffee boosts your endurance

Multiple studies have shown that coffee consumption can help you work out for longer periods of time with better results!

Coffee improves memory

A 2014 study proved that coffee can help you recall details more easily and even enhance the brain’s ability to create long-term memories! Just one strong cup a day can help your memory retention.

Coffee can boost your mood

Drinking coffee may be just as good as drinking an anti-depressant! A 2013 study found that coffee drinkers were less likely to commit suicide or have suicidal tendencies.

Featured photo credit: Chevanon via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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