• Cara Fielden

Larks and owls: understanding our sleep type for better sleep

March is National Sleep Month and this week is Sleep Week, so we're kicking it off with some support in understanding your sleep type to help you sleep! Read on to find out more.



Did you know that we all have a certain sleep type? What that means, is that there are certain things that our bodies prefer us to do when it comes to sleeping. We might be someone who prefers to get up early and start the day at 7am but still getting an early night, or, we might like to wake up a bit later because we find we work better in the evening. Everyone is different, but understanding what kind of a sleeper we are can help us get the most restorative and restful sleep possible! And it’s safe to say we all need that. So, over to our sleep expert James to find out how to better understand your sleep type.


So why is understanding our sleep type important?


Understanding our sleep type is fundamental to sleeping better. If we have a sleep schedule that fights against our sleep type, then sleep becomes harder to achieve - and when we do get some sleep, the quality worsens.


The best thing to do is to think of your sleep type as a continuum, a line, with early types (larks) at one end and late types (owls at the other). We all sit somewhere on this line, with most of us sitting somewhere in the middle, but with a slight preference one way or another. Our type does shift as we go through life; between age thirteen and our mid-twenties we are more likely to be later in our sleep type.


When we understand where we are on this line, we can then understand what our rough ninety minute window is. This is the time in which we are most likely to go to sleep and wake up. So for me, for example, I have a slight larkish preference, so my window to sleep is usually around 9.30-11pm and wake up is 5.30-7am.



But James, how do we work out our sleep type?


One tip that might help you figure out what kind of a sleeper you are, is to consider how you sleep when you’re not under pressure to get up for work for example. Think about being on holiday - are you someone who is still up at the crack of dawn? Then you’re much more likely to be a larkish sleeper. However, if you find that you’re sleeping a bit later when that awful morning alarm isn’t set, then maybe you’re more of an owl.


Another way to work out your sleep type is to look at how your relatives sleep. We inherit our sleep from those who came before us, and more than likely you will have a parent, grandparent or even a child that sleeps like you do. There might be someone in the family that resembles your ninety-minute window, and that could help you to figure out when is best for you to fall asleep and wake up in the morning.


Sleep tight: Remember, you might not be a fixed owl or lark. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, in between these two poles. But just having a better idea can help us develop more of an understanding into what we might need to do to make sure we’re getting the best possible rest we can.