Why you need to know your sleep animal to improve productivity

You’re on your commute home, tired after a busy day at work, yet feeling like you didn’t really get much done. Next thing you know, you’re googling for ‘how to be more productive’ only to find a generic article about ‘productivity in the workplace’ telling you to make lists and prioritise. But what if that isn’t enough? What if the reason you’re not productive is because you’ve lost sight of your internal clock which you inherited in your DNA.

Your inner body clock is extremely powerful and controls a multitude of functions over the course of the day. These include hunger, creativity, temperature, blood pressure, among many others. Knowing this, it is easy to see how so many illnesses, disorders, and low productivity are caused by ignoring our body’s internal clock.

Dr Michael Breus is The Sleep Doctor and he can help you understand your sleep animal, also known as your individual chronotype. In terms of work, this can help you find the right time to do things, as well as help you empathise with co-workers who are not so productive in the morning but can whizz through tasks in the evening. Ultimately, understanding chronotypes will make sure you have a productive day and improve employee productivity in your workplace.

So are you a dolphin, bear, lion, or wolf?


  • Sleep and behaviour – They go to bed late at night because they find it hard to switch off, like real dolphins who sleep with half of their brain awake so that they can stay alert for predators. Humans in this category wake up feeling unrefreshed as they struggle to get to sleep and lie awake obsessing over the details and events of the day. They are susceptible to anxiety-related insomnia, and most likely to be introverted, cautious and intelligent. They are perfectionists and avoid risky situations. They don’t really have an appetite in the morning and tend to just drink coffee to try and wake themselves up.
  • At work – They are not really team workers and work better alone. They are most productive at the end of the day when they feel most awake but have random bursts of energy throughout the day.


  • Sleep and behaviour – The bear is said to be the most common chronotype. This person hits the snooze button and sleeps deeply, rising and sleeping with the sun. Their personality is extroverted, open-minded and very approachable. Similar to an actual bear they are active during the day and restful at night.
  • At work – They wake up a little fuzzy but are most productive mid-morning to early afternoon. They are always hungry so it is not uncommon to see them snacking at work. They are loyal and fair, always taking responsibility for their work and you’ll never find them blaming others. They work well in a team and are very supportive of others.


  • Sleep and behaviour – This group wake up early and feel tired in the late afternoon. Just as real lions rise before dawn to hunt, these people wake up hungry and have a good breakfast before they go about their day ready for action! They are practical, optimistic and meticulous.  They enjoy exercise because it is another way for them to achieve goals which they set for themselves.
  • At work – They have a lot of energy and are most productive in the morning and during lunchtime. They are conscientious, face tasks head-on, and are not afraid of a challenge. They are usually leaders within the work organisation.


  • Sleep and behaviour – These people find it difficult to wake up before midday. They don’t go to sleep until after midnight, like a real wolf who is night-orientated and comes alive when the sun goes down. They find it very stressful being out of sync with everyone else and can get angered if people refer to them as lazy. They are pessimistic, moody and creative.
  • At work  They have a lot of energy and are most productive late afternoon and evening. They are often late because their uncommon sleep pattern makes it incredibly hard for them to get up. Due to their unpredictable behaviour, they tend to work better alone as they can often react with emotional intensity.

How can this help improve employee engagement?  

Staff rotas – When creating your rotas, remember which of your staff are lions or bears and put them on the morning duties. This will ensure more efficiency in the morning as these people will be more awake and engaged.

Communication – Being aware of your staff’s chronotypes can help you have more effective communication with them. For example, if you want to have a chat with a staff member about their performance and they are a dolphin, then the most effective time to do this would be in the late afternoon or evening when they are most alert and awake. Whereas if they are lion it is best to catch them in the morning.

Flexible learning – You can encourage staff to learn when it suits them. A wolf may prefer completing games, or questions at night when they are struggling to sleep. A lion, on the other hand,  may prefer to learn on their commute to work. If you have a flexible learning app such as Oplift Learn, staff can choose when they want to learn to suit their individual chronotype.

Work responsibilities – In terms of personality, determining staff members sleep animal will help you decide which role is best suited to them at work. Due to their extroverted personality and friendliness, it is best to place bears in roles where they would be talking to customers, such as front-of-house, on the shop floor, or meet and greet. Dolphins on the other hand, due to their introverted nature, may be better suited to work in the stock room or on the tills where they don’t have to engage in too much conversation.

Why not find out which sleep animal you are to improve your workplace productivity.

Sources: LiveScience The Sleep Doctor

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 10th November 2017