I recently learned in my side-interest about typology that four animals have been attributed to the four main sleep patterns. Although it was easy to distinguish who the animal characters are in my family, I think seeing these distinctions helped me to once again understand my family habits and routines in a new way.
This video is helpful in understanding the four chronotypes and optimum ways to maintain energy and healthy habits. A brief disclaimer: I personally believe God designed us with particular sleep patterns based on how He created our unique combination of genetics. I also replace meditation and relaxation exercises with reading scripture and prayer as I find these two practices prepare me to face life’s challenges. For these reasons, my observations about my family below may have a more faith-based perspective than the findings suggest.
I can confidently say I married a dolphin. In our early-married years, I had to adjust the volume of my alarm because my husband would wake up at the almost-inaudible electric surge before the actual alarm sounded. When our boys were babies, we had a baby monitor in the room so I would hear them. But, I guarantee their daddy heard every mattress shift and dreamy breath. More with our first than with our second and third, he would be unable to resist scooping up the baby and cuddling him in between us. (I kind of wish I knew about chronotypes then, so I could have explained with soft-science why this habit was not ideal.) My husband also enjoys listening to talk-radio or music to fall asleep. I tend to accommodate him on this habit, but I have asked that he refrain from choosing reports of alien-abductions and Tangerine Dream.
Which brings me to my chronotype. I would classify myself as a bear with lion-tendencies. Yes, I’m weird. I prefer to wake up before the sun. I would rather start my day by 6:00. But, in reality, I dismiss my alarm and wake up around 7:30. I have specific routines set up throughout my day. When my sons were little and when we home schooled full-time, it was difficult to maintain all of these activities. But, over the last year, my morning schedule includes some for of the following:
- Bible reading and prayer
- My daily/weekly chores
Physical exercise is hard for me to maintain early in the morning. I’ve tried gym memberships and having home exercise equipment. It simply doesn’t work for me. I do better if I walk my dogs mid-morning during the winter and/or after dinner in the spring and summer. It’s good for me, and it’s good for them.
My hardest motivational time is between 1:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. Maybe it is my grandmother’s influence of tea at 2:00, but I enjoy having a cup of coffee around then every day. I attempt to do something productive. I may use this time for errands, but if I am home, I try to work on checking off writing or reading assignments set by myself or others. Or, I’ll get dinner started.
After 3:00, I listen to an Audible book and knit. Sometimes I power-nap. This is my well-earned, regroup time. There might be a scheduled activity or something I need to do with my husband or sons. I need to be ready for that!
By 9:00, I am feeling done. It’s an odd phenomenon. When the boys were little and their bed time crept past 9:00, I skipped reading to them. I enjoyed reading with them, but I didn’t have the energy for it at 9:00. I’ve been in choirs for years, but at 9:00, my ear shuts off. I can’t hear harmony, and I can hardly sing. If there isn’t an activity or I’m not interested in watching television, I often head up to my bedroom to read. Again, this is a time I reset and relax before going to sleep. Or my husband wants to watch the news or a show at 10:00 or 11:00. I need to be ready for that! Or the boys will want to talk about a deep topic or problem at 10:30. I need to be ready for that, too!
Over the years, my natural routines have had to become fluid. When a dolphin and a bear with lion tendencies have children, there tend to be wolves and dolphins. At least, that is true in my family. When we home educated full-time, these tendencies made scheduling teaching time challenging for me. So, much of the reason that I was able to learn flexibility is because my sons required an adaptable routine. Our school day tended to start at 9:00 and end by 3:00. For my dolphins (first and second), this allowed them to sleep if they hadn’t during the night. For my wolf (third), this encouraged working in chunks of three tasks and taking a break as well as doing complicated tasks in the afternoon We managed, but I wish I had known about chronotypes sooner. Maybe I would have encouraged some study time when I was sleeping, and they weren’t!
Yet, we’ve learned to live with each other. Isn’t that the most important thing within a family?