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The Best Time To Study & Learn with Dr. Michael Breus

Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and a trusted expert in everything sleep-related. A member of the clinical advisory board of The Dr. Oz Show, he also serves as an expert resource for major publications, doing more than 100 interviews a year for outlets like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

A prolific author, Dr. Breus is the author of four books on topics from enhancing sleep to diet to ultimate life hacks, including the popular The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan. He’s been featured by CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, the Wall Street Journal, and Oprah, and regularly writes his own articles for The Insomnia Blog, Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. His latest book is The Power of When.

Dr. Breus maintains a private practice in the Los Angeles area.


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In this episode Dr. Michael Breus is on to discuss the best time to learn, read and study. You must first understand the four chronotypes, and Dr. Breus will help you identify which one you are.

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"You can discover when the best time to do something is by matching your activities to when you need your hormones."

Dr. Michael Breus

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When is the best time to learn something new, to study, or to remember?

You can do the right thing at the wrong time and not get the results you want.

Dr. Michael Breus is my ‘superhero sleep sensei’ and author of The Power of When, which talks about the 4 chronotypes and how to use yours to your advantage.

Your chronotype is based on a specific gene known as the PER3 gene.

The 4 Chronotypes

Lions are the ‘early birds’

  • Lions get up early and make their first kill before dawn.
  • Lions make up 15% of the population and are Type A personalities who never deviate from the established order.
  • Lions wake up around 5 – 5:30AM without an alarm clock.
  • Socially, they don’t do well because they’re tired from waking up so early.

Most people are bears

  • Bears make up about 50 – 55% of the population.
  • Bears go to bed around 10PM and wake up around 6:30 – 7AM.
  • Society is built around a bear’s schedule.
  • Bears tend to be fun, gregarious extroverts but also can get work done.

Wolves are the ‘night owls’

  • Wolves are creative risk-takers.
  • Wolves can be standoffish socially but once you become friends with a wolf, you’re friends for life.
  • Wolves go to bed around midnight and wake up late; they hate mornings.

Dolphins are the problem sleepers

  • Dolphins sleep unihemispherically: one-half of the brain sleeps while the other half looks for predators.
  • Dolphins tend to be insomniacs.
  • Dolphins are highly intelligent and motivated, but a little anxious.

During each 24-hour cycle, your hormones start and stop at different hours depending on your chronotype. You can discover when the best time to do something is by matching your activities to when you need your hormones.

Discover your own chronotype by taking The Power of When Quiz

  • Self-awareness is a superpower.
  • Have your loved ones take the quiz to improve your communication.
  • Knowing when someone will be receptive to what you have to say can improve your relationship.
  • There are certain times of day when your brain is not interested in details, emotions, and focus.

It is possible to be more than one chronotype

  • While lions and wolves tend to be extremes, bears fall within a spectrum.
  • Some bears like to sleep early while others like to sleep late.
  • Once dolphins start sleeping better, sometimes a second chronotype emerges.
  • The best time to do something falls within a range, and your placement on that range depends on your chronotype.
  • Lions will fall on the earlier side, bears will be in the middle, and wolves will be on the later side.

When is the best time for sex?

  • Before sex, you want high levels of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and cortisol.
  • You want to have low melatonin.
  • 92% of people have sex between 10:30PM and 11:30PM, when your hormone profile is exactly the opposite of what you want it to be.
  • Have sex in the morning because that’s when you have the hormone profile you need.
  • Dr. Breus has a specific chart in The Power of When that shows you when to have sex based on your and your partner’s chronotype.
  • Sex is good for the brain.

When is the best time to read?

  • Between 1PM and 3PM, you release melatonin and your core body temperature drops so you feel more tired. This is not a good time to read.
  • It is ideal to read between 11AM and 12:30PM.
  • Be sure to eat breakfast since you won’t be able to focus without the fuel.
  • Try doing detailed work between 11AM and 12PM. Take a 25-minute break for lunch, then work on more detailed reading until 1PM.

Dr. Breus’ Best Sleep Tip: Pick a sleep schedule and stick to it

  • For great sleep, you need to stick to your schedule on the weekends too.
  • Lions tend to wake up early so this is not a big issue for them. Bears like to sleep in on weekends, but sleeping in will make you feel worse so keep your schedule tight.
  • Consistency is important for everyone, but especially for wolves and dolphins.

If you’re interested in going more in-depth on this topic, Dr. Breus has put together a special package just for our Kwik Brain listeners. Click here to learn more.

You can also learn more in Dr. Breus’ book, The Power of When.

Did you enjoy this episode? Share your takeaways on social media and tag us (@jimkwik & @thesleepdoctor). Don’t forget to check out Dr. Breus’ program – exclusive to Kwik Brain listeners!


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