Dr. Michael Breus: Discover Your Chronotype To Optimize Workout Timing, Improve Sleep, Unlock Potential, and More

January 11, 2017


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Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in sleep, biorhythms, and improving the lives and sleep patterns of patients using chronotypes. He is the author of The Power of When that explains the concept of chronotypes and the four categorizes everyone falls into, which then helps you discover the perfect time for you to do everything including when to have sex, workout, sleep, eat, ask your boss for a raise and much more. No matter what your goals are, reading The Power of When and understanding your natural chronotype can change your life and speed your path to self-optimization. Take the quiz to discover your chronotype here.

On this show you’ll discover:

  • Michael’s background as a clinical psychologist and sleep expert… and how he found success with using chronobiology more than other techniques.
  • The four chronotypes and their origins (scientific backing and the animal names they’re given):
    • Lions
    • Bears
    • Wolves
    • Dolphins


  • Conscientious, stable, practical, optimists, overachievers, prioritizing health and fitness and strategizers. leaders yet introverts.
  • Morning people, like really early risers with high morning cortisol
  • For Lions instead of doing fasted workouts fueled by caffeine in the AM instead we should eat soon after waking, skip the caffeine until later, take a few min to contemplate goals and plans, and have sex – all before 8am! Then get to work, but don’t rush into solo work – connect with people, have meetings.
  • What about early-morning emails for Lions?


  • These guys are 50% of the popular and whom after we model the standard daily routine of 9-5 work and such.
  • What makes bears bears? Cautious, extrovert, friendly, open-minded, aspire to be healthy, likes familiarity


  • The night owls: Impulsive, permissive, creative, moody, insightful, intuitive, risk takers, pleasure seekers, emotional – and not morning people.
  • EP fan asks: “Do you have any advice for someone who only has time to train in the morning before work, but who has, for his whole life, been a so called night owl and thus horrible at waking up/training early?”


  • Only turn off half the brain when sleeping so to speak
  • Cautious, introverts, neurotic, intelligent and often insomniacs…. many athletes are high stress who also have insomniac tendencies.
  • OCD perfectionists, but risk avoidance
  • How can dolphins attenuate episodes of insomnia?
  • Using “Bed restriction” techinques for insomniacs


  • Are athletes usually of the same chronotype or is it as random as the general population?
    • Athletes are usually Lions and Dolphins
  • Can you change your chronotype so that your can train, work and sleep as you WANT/NEED to in life and overcome the genetic chronotype you were given?
  • Chronotypes are based on the DNA we’re borns with and can’t be changed but we do tend to evolve over time.
    • You can use 23andme data to further nail down your chronotype.
    • PE3 gene
  • Can you be more than one type and what to do if you are? How to really find out your type.
  • Many athletes need to train in the early hours before work, kid duties and other life stuff: Should we just suck it up and train early or truly try to reorganize our lives for better results?
  • The use of light therapy to optimize your biorhythms and how this helps you get up early and have energy even if you stay up late or have trouble sleeping through the night.
  • The best time for sex and how to optimize sex with your partner by finding the right time for both of you!
  • Are certain types are more stubborn and unwilling to follow your guidelines?


  • Best time to run/workout:
    • Varies by up to 26% from morning to evening
    • Best time relates to when you wake up
  • Lions – 5:30 p.m. Yup, even though they’re morning people, Lions should workout later in the day and not first thing in the morning when cortisol is already really high and time is better spent elsewhere. Workout later in the evening for a boost of energy and to optimize the session instead of getting sleepy too early. Then leading up to race, switch to AM workouts to get body primed for racing at that time of day.
  • Dolphins – 7:30am
  • Bears – 7:30am or noon, fasting pre breakfast or afternoon to suppress appetite
  • Wolves – 6pm for performance and fat burn
  • Across all type the WORST time of day to workout is 6am – why?
    • injury risk
    • core temp not up yet
    • wait at least 90min after waking
  • Discussing other biorhythms that determine ideal run time:
    • fat burning rhythm – when to run to burn fat and boost metabolism
    • performance rhythm – workout according to your preferred wake up time for fastest times. Studies show peak power in evening, but
    • rest rhythm – time of workout to improve quality of sleep (benefits of workout out early = better sleep)
  • Do evening or nighttime workouts reach a point of diminishing returns if they’re too late by decreasing sleep quality?
  • Other biorhythms in fitness including coordination rhythm, power rhythm, flexibility rhythm, muscle growth rhythm, muscle strength rhythm and more.
  • When is the best time of day for strength training? Yoga? Team sports?
  • Pain tolerance rhythm – morning types can handle more pain than evening types


  • Best time to wake up:
    • Lion 5:30-6am – chill for 10min in bed, and best foods to have at breakfast
    • Dolphin 6:30am – get up and into light immediately
    • Bear 7am – get up right away
    • Wolf 7:30am – snooze once then get up and into light
  • More thoughts on manipulating macros for best results
  • On napping:
    • Lions 1:30pm
    • Bears 2pm
    • Dolphins and Wolves no naps allowed
    • What is the “Nap-a-latte”
  • Don’t try to make up for sleep by sleeping in on the weekends
  • Michael recommends a regimented “Power Down Hour” – what does this entail?


  • Often we can’t do all these hacks because life just doesn’t allow for it, so how can we try to do our best?
  • These days there are more race options and varying times of days, what about trying a race at night if you’re a Wolf?

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