Sleep-wake Pattern May Be the Key to Boost your Productivity


Research shows that you possess a sleep-wake pattern. This is your biological clock that controls your body's rhythms and dictates whether you are at your best at any time of the day.

The ups and downs in your day-to-day activity are dependent on your sleep-wake pattern. Your sleeping pattern determines the peaks and valleys of your productivity.

Daniel Pink, a management and behavioral science expert suggested in his book ‘Don’t Force Yourself to be a Morning Person’, to divide your day into three parts:

  • Peak: where you are most focused that occurs at different times of the day
  • Trough: where your mood and concentration start to decline
  • Recovery: where your mood rises again but you are less watchful

Pink also categorized different types of people based on their sleeping pattern, the ‘lark’, the ‘owl’ and the ‘third bird.’

Of these categories, you will be given a simple test to assess what types of person you are based on your sleeping pattern. This is how the test goes:

Step 1: You go to sleep and wake up early or late preferably during the weekend.

Step 2: Record the time you fell asleep and the time you woke up.

Step 3: Try to find the midpoint of your sleep session or the halfway point that breaks your sleep into two. For example, if you fell asleep at midnight and woke up at 8 a.m., your midpoint is at 4 a.m.

Step 4: Now check your type, whether you are a lark, an owl, or a third bird.

  • If your midpoint is 3:30 a.m. or earlier, you're probably a lark, your peak is at dawn.

  • If your midpoint is 5:30 a.m. or later, you're probably an owl, your peak is in the late afternoon or early evening.

  • If your midpoint is somewhere in between, you're probably a third bird, your peak is in the morning.

Read More | Don’t force yourself to be a morning person - here's why

According to Malcolm Gladwell, a best-selling author and podcast host, when he discovered that he was probably a lark, he began to dedicate the first three hours of his day on mathematical tasks and making decisions.

He does not schedule any meetings or calls in the morning. He also does his exercise and replying to emails in the afternoon. The test taught him that he shouldn't waste his most productive hours on less important activities.

On the other hand, Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert suggested creating a to-do list before you go to sleep so that when you are already in the office you know what to do base on your list.

Then, organize your tasks depending on the nature and priority of the tasks. It can be creative, administrative, and mathematical. Then based on your result, determine your peak and spend your time and attention on the applicable task based on your to-do lists.

You will be surprised at how your productivity improves just by doing the right thing at the right time!


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Sophia Wong

Brand and Marketing Strategist in Hong Kong, writes about career, job hunting and interview tips.

2 min read

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