Is there a right time to fall in love? Author and psychologist, Dr. Micheal J. Breus who studies chronobiology (the science of your body clock) says yes. His new book, The Power of When: Learn the Best Time to do Everything suggests when to do everything from fall in love to fight and have sex…
Author and clinical psychologist, Dr. Micheal J. Breus began his career studying sleep. But, after 16 years he was noticing that some of his techniques were not effective for certain patients. That is when Breus started to look into chronobiology or the study of circadian rhythms (our body clock) and their impact on everyday life. Dr. Breus wrote The Power of When to educate people on how to capitalize on their circadian rhythms depending on their chronotype. That includes the right time to fall in love, have sex and even fight with your partner.
What are circadian rhythms?
Dr. Breus defines circadian rhythms as ‘Your biological clock’s schedule; the ebb and flow of hormones and enzymes, and the changes in circulatory activity over the course of a 24 hour day.’ Which means that your circadian rhythm affects everything from treating diseases such as cancer to how you lose weight. Circadian rhythms are the reason that we feel jetlag and the reason for seasonal depression, according to the Center for Circadian Biology.
Your circadian rhythm affects everything from treating diseases such as cancer to how you lose weight
What is your chronotype?
A chronotype is a classification of the general timing of your biological clock, says Dr. Breus. Not everyone’s biological clock is the same, however, it is usually genetic. Depending on your type you can determine the right timing for every aspect of your life. The chronotype classifications that Dr. Breus uses are dolphin, lion, bear or wolf.
Dolphins are generally defined as someone who is cautious, introverted, neurotic but extremely intelligent. They are people who wake up still tired but are wide awake late into the night. Dolphins stay out of risky situations, strive for perfect and are extremely in tune with details.
Lions are described as someone who is conscientious of others, quite practical, thrives on stability and unwaveringly optimistic. They are early risers and happy about it. Lions are overachievers who prioritize health and fitness in their lives.
Bears are often seen as cautious people who are extroverted, easy to talk to and quite open minded. They are the most likely to hit the snooze button many times in the morning and stay in a fog until early afternoon. Bears prioritize happiness in their lives looking for things that feel comfortable and familiar.
Wolves are fickle creatures. They are characterized to be impulsive, pessimistic and moody but extremely creative. They are the people who hate to wake up early and tell everyone about it. Wolves enjoy taking risks and prioritize pleasure in their lives seeking out new experiences. They are also the most emotional of the chronotypes.
Chronotypes can change over time. In a study done by Till Roenneberg Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, he finds that the majority of people aged 21- 65 are usually categorized as bears.
How it works
Dr. Breus created a short quiz at the beginning of the book (or you can take a one-minute version online here) which will determine whether you are a dolphin, lion, bear or wolf. Each of the four animals represents a different general category of a chronotype. Through the chronotype categorizations, it can be determined the best times to do everything from fall in love, have sex and even fight with your partner.
Knowing your chronotype can help you maximize your body’s circadian rhythms. For example, a typical day for a bear would be getting up early in the morning (7:00 a.m.), no hitting the snooze button. Then go for a quick session at the gym or a run outdoors before having breakfast and starting your day. Don’t eat too big of a lunch as it will just make you sleepy if you need to you can take a 20-minute power nap in the early afternoon to get through the rest of the day. If you didn’t work out in the morning, go to the gym right after work at about 6:00 p.m. Eat a small dinner in the late evening before engaging in good conversation and maybe even take a hot bath to calm down for the night. By 10:00 p.m. have all of your screens off and be reading a calming book to be asleep by 11:00 p.m.
Through the chronotype categorizations, it can be determined the best times to do everything from fall in love, have sex and even fight with your partner
When to fall in love
The best time to fall in love is when you are in the best mood. There are three different rhythms: the attraction rhythm, the affection rhythm, and the attachment rhythm. Each is meant to bring you closer to your partner or to help you find a partner, and each happens at a different stage of the relationship from just meeting to a long-term partnership.
The attraction rhythm is the rush of heat when you first find yourself attracted to your new love. It is based on the pheromone, an odorless hormone, that both men and women release without knowing. This is highest when you are ovulating according to a study at the University of Texas.
The attraction rhythm is the rush of heat when you first find yourself attracted to your new love. It is based on the pheromone, an odorless hormone, that both men and women release without knowing
When you are motivated and affectionate towards your partner that is called the affection rhythm, this is characterized by a spike in your oxytocin levels (the hormone that makes you happy). The affection rhythm is based on a Chinese study done in 2014 participants, half female and male were asked to determine the attractiveness of a picture. Photos of positive looking people were rated as markedly more attractive than those that didn’t have positive looking features; such as, kind eyes or smile lines evoked more of a response than those who has harsher facial features. Moral of the story, fall in love when you are in a good mood.
As you move further into the relationship you will begin to feel the attachment rhythm. This is when you bask in the gloriousness of a long term relationship. It can be seen in your blood with the oxytocin levels from the ‘honeymoon’ phase of the relationship (the first three months) continues into the later months or years of the relationship.
Best time to fall in love for each chronotype:
Dolphins: in the afternoon to evening
Lions: in the morning to afternoon
Bears: in the mid-afternoon to early evening
Wolves: in the late afternoon to late evening
The worst time for ALL chronotypes: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.- for all chronotypes positivity is lower during the work day making it a poor choice for falling in love.
When to have sex
‘How on earth did humans adopt the practice of having sex at bedtime, ‘where’ and ‘when’ we’re supposed to be unconscious’, Dr. Breus exclaims. One reasoning he gives could be the convenience rhythm. You are already in bed with your partner, why not? Yet, that is the time of day when your heart rate is the slowest and your mind is primed for nothing but dreams.
Commonality states sex must be had at night but the desire rhythm peaks in the morning
Despite commonality stating that sex must be had at night, the desire rhythm peaks in the morning for all chronotypes. The desire rhythm is when the testosterone in both males and females is at its highest, which is in the morning and surprisingly, is lowest at night. The afterglow from morning sex gives a circulation boost as well as a myriad of other benefits to help you start your day.
Best time to have sex for all chronotypes:
Dolphin: In the morning but after your morning workout
Lion: When you wake up, but give yourself 15-20 minutes to get your bearings.
Bear: Right as you wake up, bears are most alert right after they have slept so capitalize on that and go for it
Wolf: In the morning but after you wake up a little and have had breakfast
The worst time for ALL chronotypes to have sex: 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m- arousal at bedtime can trigger wakefulness which could lead to insomnia for dolphins and wolves.
When to fight with your partner
This is where the real magic happens. Dr. Breus starts out with a few simple, yet difficult to follow tips. Do not pick a fight when you are sleep deprived or before you go to bed. Even if you make up before you go to sleep your brain goes into ‘consolidation’ mode and will take those negative feelings and glue them to your brain.
Do not pick a fight when you are sleep deprived or before you go to bed
The self-regulation rhythm mentioned is one of the worst things that happens when you fight with your partner during off-peak times. You say things you don’t mean. It’s coined the ‘I have no filter’ effect. Wolves are the biggest culprits of this, but if you catch any chronotype at a bad time it will happen.
Best time to fight with your partner for all chronotypes:
Dolphin: After a carb-heavy dinner
Lion: About an hour or two before bed
Bear: Before dinner but after work
Wolf: After dinner about two hours before bed.
The worst times to fight with your partner: Do not fight with a lion during the late afternoon into the evening, just don’t. Do not fight with a wolf before lunchtime, they are probably not awake yet. Do not fight with a dolphin or bear until late afternoon or you won’t accomplish anything.
Check back next week to see if the results are as amazing as Dr. Breus claims. I will follow my ‘daily plan’ laid out by Dr. Breus for seven days and see if my life changes for the better.
MICHAEL J. BREUS Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Breus has been featured on CBS This Morning, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, The View, Fox & Friends, ABC News, the Today show, Anderson Cooper 360˚, and others. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post, the Oz Blog, and Psychology Today, and is the author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Beauty Sleep.