• Kristin De Decker

When To Sleep: Are You A Dolphin, A Lion, A Bear Or A Wolf?

Updated: Jul 6

If you are fortunate enough to live until 90 years old; roughly 32 years of your life would have been spent asleep- according to Circadian Neuroscientist Russell Foster. In a captivating Ted Talk that you can access here, Foster explores why people sleep.

At 123tutors we know being a student is hard. Substantial workloads result in late hours and getting less sleep. This is often considered being productive. Yet, getting reduced sleep can actually be highly destructive.

Foster outlines that sleep deprivation is linked to poor judgment, reduced creativity and deteriorated… what was I saying? Oh yes, deteriorated memory. This means you won’t be able to effectively remember your work and your marks will probably suffer.

Moreover, students often rely on unhealthy habits to combat this lack of sleep. Enter caffeine culture and reliance on other stimulants (like the use of Ritalin and Concerta by students without a prescription.)- (Insert the shock of some parents).

Foster also notes that being tired often fuels stress which can result in weakened immune systems (risky business during COVID-19). Plus, it can also be linked to mental health problems.

So what should you do?

Sleep more! This may seem like the obvious answer, but is not necessarily true. Everyone requires different amounts of sleep. So the solution is: know WHEN to sleep! And listen to your body.

According to Dr Michael Breus (a clinical psychologist and Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine) people have 4 different chronotypes that govern their sleep cycles.

This then affects when we are our most effective, working selves. So when you work, should be centred around when you sleep.

But first, a brief explanation as to what chronotypes are:

Dr Breus explains that your chronotype is a classification of your genetic propensity to sleep at certain times. So essentially, your genetic make-up influences when you sleep best.

This is controlled by the PER3 gene. (More information on how circadian rhythms and chronotypes work together can be accessed at: amerisleep)

So, are you a Dolphin, a Lion, a Bear or a Wolf?

No, this isn’t about your favourite animal; it’s about what type of chronotype you are. Dr Beus breaks it down into 4 categories he created, like this:

Dolphins are the light sleepers and are sensitive to noise.

Lions are your natural early risers (the morning people).

Bears energy levels coincide with the sun.

Wolves are your natural ‘night owls’- sleeping and rising later.

You may have been able to identify who are immediately. If not, you can take the quiz at: thepowerofwhenquiz. It also provides extra insights.

So what should you take from this?

  • Try and arrange your peak study hours when you feel most energised and you may find that your productivity amplifies. (e.g. early risers you would be less effective cramming late at night).

  • Arrange your sleep schedule (sleeping and waking times) around this period of productivity.

  • Organise lessons with 123tutors during these periods of productivity.

But I know what the 'night owls' or wolves are thinking…

Society’s schedules often dictate when students must work and perform their best and be up in the morning. So you will have towork around this.

Marygrace Taylor, a health and wellness writer, has great recommendations on how to do this at: amerisleep

So, by sticking to a schedule you can train your body to adapt to the demands of your day, be your most productive and energised self.

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