How to Find Your Chronotype—And How Knowing It Can Help You

iStock
iStock

You probably know if you’re an early bird or a night owl. But did you know that there are two other in-between types? Discovering your unique bio-time—a.k.a. your chronotype—can help dictate the best time for you to make an important decision or take the next step in your career.

Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow of the Academy of Sleep Medicine, examined more than 200 studies to write his book, The Power of When. Take the 45-second free online quiz to learn your unique chronotype (Breus divides everyone into four categories: Bears, Wolves, Dolphins, and Lions), and then read on to see when you should be doing what. 

THE BEST TIME TO MAKE A DECISION

In order to make a decision, your brain needs to function on an emotional level and on a logical level, Breus says. In emotional terms, if you feel afraid and insecure, it can cause you to act cautiously. Sleep deprivation and your tendency towards procrastination also affect your decision-making skills, but the biggest factor is your personal circadian rhythm, and this depends on your chronotype.

According to Breus, Lions will make the best decisions first thing in the morning, from 6:00 to 11:00 a.m. “You’ll be alert, ready to go, understanding what’s happening,” Breus says. Bears, who wake a little later, should plan major moves for before lunch (between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m.), while Dolphins do best from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Wolves, who are night people, have two windows for optimal decisiveness: 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. and again from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. They need the break in the middle of the day because their sugar levels drop, and they shouldn’t make a decision on an empty stomach. Also, right before bed in the evening is prime decision-making time for everyone, because creative ideas often come when you’re about to fall asleep and your mind is a little distracted, Breus says. 

THE BEST TIME TO SCHEDULE A JOB INTERVIEW

In order to game your job interview, it’s best to know the circadian rhythm of your interviewer as well. “Most leaders are Lions anyway,” Breus says, explaining that they’re at their best first thing in the morning. But are you? You don’t want to be there at 8:00 a.m. if you aren’t going to be able to function.

On the flip side, you also don’t want to be the last interview of the day. “If [your interviewer] thought that everyone was good, they’re going to downgrade you because they’re going to think that they need to think that someone wasn’t good . . . and you’re up, so that must be you,” Breus says. Finding the right balance "is not an exact science," Breus says, "but it works well.”

THE BEST TIME TO ASK FOR A RAISE

First, it’s important to determine the circadian rhythm of your boss. Take notice of the time they arrive in the office relative to your company's required start-time. Say work starts at 9:00 a.m.: If they stroll through the doors at 7:30, they’re probably a Lion. Arriving at 8:30 makes them a Bear, and 10:00 a.m. (in this scenario) probably means they're a Wolf. If you’re getting emails from them at all times of the night, they’re probably a Dolphin.

Don’t time the question too close to lunch, because no one wants to have a big conversation when their blood sugar is low and they’re heading out to grab a sandwich. Right after lunch is best, and your boss's preferred lunchtime most likely depends once again on their chronotype. For Lions, it's likely around 12:30 p.m.; Bears at 1:00 , Wolves between 2:00 and 3:00, and Dolphins at around 3:30.

Next, choose the day. “People become more and more positive as the week goes forward,” he says. Friday is the most positive day, and most people are happier later in the day. But you don’t want to schedule anything for after 4:00 p.m., because anything past 4:00 on a Friday is margarita time, Breus says.

Why Thousands of 'Penis Fish' Washed Up on a California Beach

Kate Montana, iNaturalist // CC BY-NC 4.0
Kate Montana, iNaturalist // CC BY-NC 4.0

Nature works in mysterious ways. The latest example materialized at Drakes Beach near San Francisco, California, in early December, when visitors strolling along the shore stumbled upon what looked to be the discarded inventory of an adult novelty shop. In fact, it was thousands of Urechis caupo, a marine worm that bears more than a passing resemblance to a human penis.

The engorged pink invertebrate, which is typically 10 inches in length, is native to the Pacific coast and frequently goes by the less salacious name of “fat innkeeper worm.” Burrowing in sand, the worm produces mucus from its front end to ensnare plankton and other snacks, then pumps water to create a vacuum where the food is directed into their tunnel. Since it builds up a small nest of discarded food, other creatures like crabs will stop by to feed, hence the “innkeeper” label.

You can see the worm in "action" here:

Because the worms enjoy a reclusive life in their burrows, it’s unusual to see thousands stranded on the beach. It’s likely that a strong storm broke up the intertidal sand, decimating their homes and leaving them exposed. The event is likely to thrill otters, as they enjoy dining on the worm. So do humans: Penis fish are served both raw and cooked in Korea and China.

[h/t Live Science]

The Horrors of Anglerfish Mating

Masaki Miya et al. "Evolutionary history of anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes): a mitogenomic perspective," BMC Evolutionary Biology 10, article number: 58 (2010), Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Masaki Miya et al. "Evolutionary history of anglerfishes (Teleostei: Lophiiformes): a mitogenomic perspective," BMC Evolutionary Biology 10, article number: 58 (2010), Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

When you think of an anglerfish, you probably think of something like the creature above: Big mouth. Gnarly teeth. Lure bobbing from its head. Endless nightmares. 

During the 19th century, when scientists began to discover, describe, and classify anglerfish from a particular branch of the anglerfish family tree—the suborder Ceratioidei—that’s what they thought of, too. The problem was that they were only seeing half the picture. The specimens that they were working with were all female, and they had no idea where the males were or what they looked like. Researchers sometimes found some other fish that seemed to be related based on their body structure, but they lacked the fearsome maw and lure typical of ceratioids and were much smaller—sometimes only as long as 6 or 7 millimeters—and got placed into separate taxonomic groups.

It wasn’t until the 1920s—almost a full century after the first ceratioid was entered into the scientific record—that things started to become a little clearer. In 1922, Icelandic biologist Bjarni Saemundsson discovered a female ceratioid with two of these smaller fish attached to her belly by their snouts. He assumed it was a mother and her babies, but was puzzled by the arrangement.

“I can form no idea of how, or when, the larvae, or young, become attached to the mother. I cannot believe that the male fastens the egg to the female,” he wrote. “This remains a puzzle for some future researchers to solve.”

When Saemundsson kicked the problem down the road, it was Charles Tate Regan, working at the British Museum of Natural History in 1924, who picked it up. Regan also found a smaller fish attached to a female ceratioid. When he dissected it, he realized it wasn’t a different species or the female angler’s child. It was her mate.

The “missing” males had been there all along, just unrecognized and misclassified, and Regan and other scientists, like Norwegian zoologist Albert Eide Parr, soon figured out why the male ceratioids looked so different. They don’t need lures or big mouths and teeth because they don’t hunt, and they don’t hunt because they have the females. The ceratioid male, Regan wrote, is “merely an appendage of the female, and entirely dependent on her for nutrition.” In other words, a parasite.

When ceratioid males go looking for love, they follow a species-specific pheromone to a female, who will often aid their search further by flashing her bioluminescent lure. Once the male finds a suitable mate, he bites into her belly and latches on until his body fuses with hers. Their skin joins together, and so do their blood vessels, which allows the male to take all the nutrients he needs from his host/mate’s blood. The two fish essentially become one.

With his body attached to hers like this, the male doesn't have to trouble himself with things like seeing or swimming or eating like a normal fish. The body parts he doesn’t need anymore—eyes, fins, and some internal organs—atrophy, degenerate, and wither away, until he’s little more than a lump of flesh hanging from the female, taking food from her and providing sperm whenever she’s ready to spawn.

Extreme size differences between the sexes and parasitic mating aren’t found in all anglerfish. Throughout the other suborders, there are males that are free-swimming their whole lives, that can hunt on their own and that only attach to the females temporarily to reproduce before moving along. For deep-sea ceratioids that might only rarely bump into each other in the abyss, though, the weird mating ritual is a necessary adaptation to keep mates close at hand and ensure that there will always be more little anglerfish. And for us, it’s something to both marvel and cringe at, a reminder that the natural world is often as strange as any fiction we can imagine.

Naturalist William Beebe put it nicely in 1938, writing, “But to be driven by impelling odor headlong upon a mate so gigantic, in such immense and forbidding darkness, and willfully eat a hole in her soft side, to feel the gradually increasing transfusion of her blood through one’s veins, to lose everything that marked one as other than a worm, to become a brainless, senseless thing that was a fish—this is sheer fiction, beyond all belief unless we have seen the proof of it.”

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