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How to Sleep Better According to Your Genetics

by | May 24, 2021 | Sleep

Have you ever believed something to be the undeniable truth, told everybody you knew, and then realized you were completely wrong? That was me with sleep. I thought everyone should sleep like me – early to bed, early to rise. Wrong!

I had to eat my words once I learned about genetic biological clocks, called chronotypes, from Dr. Michael Breus, better known as ‘The Sleep Doctor.’ He’s a clinical psychologist who’s devoted his profession to sleep as a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Cool fact: he’s one of 168 psychologists who passed the Sleep Medical Speciality board without going to medical school. So he obviously knows more about sleep than me! LOL.

If you’re on the sleep struggle bus, get excited. You’re about to discover how to sleep better according to your genetics! Yes, genetics influence your sleep, and you can do something about it. Dreamy.

Yes, genetics influence your sleep, and you can do something about it. Dreamy.

DISCOVER YOUR CHRONOTYPE

At a live event listening to ‘The Sleep Doctor’ teach about genetic biological clocks, called chronotypes, I turned to my colleague and admitted: “Yikes! I’ve been teaching people to sleep incorrectly for years.” Sigh. When you know better, you do better!

Turns out, we’re genetically programmed to be early birds, night owls, or something in between. Wait, what!?! Not everyone is an early bird like me? Nope. Early to bed, early to rise is not for everyone.

Genetic research suggests we have built-in preferences for optimal bedtime and productivity. Your body’s preferred clock is called your chronotype. Following this biorhythm will not only improve your sleep but help you function better throughout the day.

Chronotypes are categorized into a few main types: early birds, night owls, and something in-between. To discover your chronotype now, you can take this fun quiz. I highly recommend testing your genetics to determine your chronotype along with your sleep genetics (see Make Peace with Your Sleep Genetics below.)

Genetic research suggests we have built-in preferences for optimal bedtime and productivity. Your body’s preferred clock is called your chronotype. Following this biorhythm will not only improve your sleep but help you function better throughout the day.

EMBRACE YOUR IDEAL BEDTIME & WORKTIME

Early birds, called larks, generally do best going to bed by 10 PM and leap out of bed, hitting the ground running. Their mind is most productive between 6 AM and 11 AM, the ideal time for early birds to complete activities that require a lot of concentration.

In contrast, night owls prefer to take it easy in the morning, kick-starting their day in the afternoon. Their mind is most productive between 3 PM and 9 PM, and generally don’t need to go to bed until midnight or even 2 AM!

It’s possible to be a mix of the two traditional chronotypes, half lark and half owl, called hummingbirds. Their ideal bedtime is between 10 PM and midnight. Unlike the early bird, hummingbirds won’t suffer from the occasional late night. Their mind is most productive during the regular working hours of 10 AM and 3 PM and shouldn’t struggle with a 7:00 AM rise.

Once you discover your chronotype, embrace it for vibrant health. When our daughters were babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, I remember staying up working after putting them to bed. As an early bird, I paid the price. I struggled to fall asleep and often woke up between 2 and 4 AM, running through my to-do list!

Now that I know I’m a lark, I arrange my day accordingly. I do the heavy lifting of my work before noon and rarely commit to evening work events. This allows my brain to wind down by my ideal bedtime, so it’s easy for me to fall asleep, stay asleep and sleep deeply. Instead of waking up feeling tired, I rise, ready to start the day.

Once you discover your chronotype, embrace it for vibrant health.

MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR SLEEP GENETICS

I highly recommend testing your genetics to determine your chronotype. In addition to learning your chronotype, you’ll also discover what you can do to get the best sleep possible according to your sleep and caffeine genetics.

Based on your genetics, you may have no issues sleeping soundly. Or, you may find you have a genetic predisposition to poorer sleep, with an increased risk of developing insomnia or other sleep issues. If so, focusing on nutrition and proper sleep hygiene becomes essential to stay on track to getting all your Zzz’s.

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make for more sound sleep.

  • No caffeine after 12 Noon
  • No more than one alcoholic drink and none within an hour of optimal bedtime
  • Finish large meals at least 3 hours before optimal bedtime
  • Power down technology an hour before optimal bedtime
  • Keep your bedroom as cool and dark as possible

You can also use nutrition to support better sleep. The top 5 sleep nutrients are melatonin, magnesium, chamomile, hops, and passionflower. Other supportive nutrients for sleep include L-theanine, tart cherry, lemon balm, valerian, and CBD. See P.S. for my favorite sleep supplement!

If you’re on the sleep struggle bus, discover your chronotype, embrace it, and make peace with your sleep genetics. Empower yourself with knowledge, then get into action! You can improve your sleep. It’s vital for vibrant health.

 

#WeAreInThisTogether

P.S. Isagenix Sleep Support & Renewal is my favorite sleep supplement. I take 2-3 sprays before bed every night. The sustained-release melatonin, combined with the proprietary nutrient complex of L-theanine, tart cherry, lemon balm, chamomile, and valerian root extract, helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. For me, that translates into better mental clarity, cognitive function, and overall brain health daily.† CBD Oil is another excellent option and can work for those who don’t respond to the sleep spray.

 

†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author: Dr. Sue

Sue McCreadie, MD (aka Dr. Sue), is a board-certified pediatric physician and wellness expert with two decades of experience helping thousands of families achieve vibrant health. In her pediatric practice, Dr. Sue helps children adapt their diet and lifestyle to optimize their genetics for health naturally. Online Dr. Sue helps other women learn how to eat for their genetics and use a nutritional system to feel confident with energy to live their best life. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, Dave, and their three children, Kaitlin, Elle, and Addison.

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