Posted onAugust 27, 2021|Comments Off on The Neuroscience of Sleep and Why We Need It, AILA Video Roundtable on September 1 at 2 pm ET/ 1 pm CT
Sleep impairment impacts focus, decision-making, effective client communication, and making progress on cases. Sleep deprivation starves the lawyer mind of the fundamental ingredients it needs to strategically and logically analyze cases and write persuasively about them. Sleep deprivation will even predict lawyer misconduct.
AILA members may join the September 1, 2 pm ET/1 pm CT video roundtable to discuss the neuroscience of sleep with Joan Bibelhausen, Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and Robin M. Wolpert, Attorney, Sapientia Law Group, brought to you by the AILA Lawyer Well-Being Committee. I am scheduled to co-host the discussion as a member of the AILA Lawyer Well-Being Committee.
AILA University Video Roundtables are free learning opportunities for AILA members provided via a weekly schedule of live video programming for members to come together from across the country and world to discuss hot topics and network with colleagues in the field. Video Roundtables are part of AILA University programming and each session is hosted by faculty selected for their expertise.
Learn How Sleep Deprivation Increases Anxiety, Interrupts Working Memory, and Impairs Executive Thinking
Hear The Latest Neuroscience Behind Sleep, and Its Impact On Mental Health, Substance Use, Ethical Behavior, and Performance
Posted onDecember 17, 2019|Comments Off on Finding your Rhythm: When to Do What – Step 1 (Know Your Chronotype)
To do focused work, generate ideas, respond to inquiries, and make decisions, you need to consider that not all times of the day are created equal. Biologically speaking, your concentration, energy and mood levels vary by the hour. Thus, the question of when you will work on a specific project is just as important as what steps you will take and how you will execute them to produce the desired results.
It is counter-productive to use your peak hours to deal with busy work instead of matters that require high-cognitive abilities or creative thinking. Yet like many other overwhelmed professionals, lawyers often fall into this trap. Despite putting in more time and neglecting to take restorative breaks, they often end their day with minor tasks done, but with no significant progress toward reaching their critical goals. While they might have replied to many emails and attended multiple meetings, the time-sensitive client matter is left untouched and the brilliant marketing idea is stuck on the some-day list.
Working out of synch with
your natural rhythm often leads to emotional overwhelm, mental depletion, physical
exhaustion and increased distractibility. These factors impair your acquisition of
knowledge and skills, fuel procrastination, and make it more difficult to
convey bad news or timely communicate with clients. Ethical missteps are more
likely to occur when you do not take your internal body clock into account.
is Your Circadian Rhythm?
Your circadian rhythm is an internal timing device that controls when you are most alert and when you are most tired. It is your brain’s sleep-wake cycle in a 24-hour period that determines your natural wake up time and bedtime. A group of about 20,000 nerve cells (neurons) – referred to as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus part of the brain (behind your eyes) – affects the secretion of hormones, like cortisol (which triggers your body to wake up) and melatonin (which tells your body to go to sleep), as well as your body temperature and blood pressure.
is Your Sleep Chronotype?
Your sleep chronotype is the behavioral manifestation of your circadian rhythm. It is genetically set and is linked to your Period 3 (PER3) or “clock” gene. In the field of chronobiology, Early Birds tend to have a longer version of the PER3 gene than Night Owls. They need more sleep and wake up and go to bed earlier.
4 Chronotype Classifications (Animals)
Dr. Michael J. Breus — a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders – notes there are four chronotype categories of sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. In his book, The Power of When, he distinguishes the chronotypes based on morning and evening preferences, and classifies them according to different animals whose sleep habits best reflect the characteristics.
Chronotypes are general guidelines for large populations; there are individual variations within each chronotype. Although you are genetically predisposed to a certain chronotype in adulthood (age 21 to 65), this may change as you age, especially at 65 or older. In addition, workplace demands, social obligations, cultural norms and other external factors may require you to shift or reset your circadian rhythm.
The four chronotypes, as
defined by Dr. Breus, are:
(morning type, like the Early Bird)
15% to 20% of population
Medium sleep drive (7 hours), naturally wake up before dawn
Wake up with lots of energy, with their peak energy in the early morning and morning, and little energy to spare in the evening
Adapt best to a 6 am wake up time & 10:10 pm bedtime for traditional office hours
Tend to be optimists, overactive achievers and go-getters, and leaders, managers and CEOs
Have leadership qualities with introversion preference
Wolf (nighttime type, like the Night Owl)
15% to 20% of population
Medium sleep drive (7 hours), naturally wake up late after mid-morning
Wake up with serious morning grogginess, with their peak energy in the middle of the day and evening
Adapt best to 7 am wake up time and 12 am bedtime for traditional office hours
Tend to be creative, pessimistic, risk-seeking and moody; often seen as lazy due to their being out of sych with society’s schedule
Are comfortable being alone or often socially introverted, but love a good party
(middle of the road type)
to 55% of population (often hybrids who lean toward being a Lion or a Wolf)
sleep drive (8 hours), often hit the snooze button and wish they could stay in
sleepers who like to rise with the sun and keep a solar schedule
Wake up in a haze, with their peak
energy in the morning to mid-morning
Adapt best to a 7 am wake up time &
11:10 pm bedtime for traditional office hours
to be fun, friendly and easy to talk to and have good people skills
team players and worker bees
10% of the population
Low sleep drive (6 hours), even though
they often crave longer bouts of sleep
Light sleepers (often diagnosed or
self-diagnosed as insomniacs who keep erratic sleep schedules and have trouble
falling asleep and staying asleep)
Wake up feeling unrefreshed, with their peak
energy in the mid-morning to early afternoon
Adapt best to a 6:30 am wake up time
& 11:50 pm bedtime for traditional office hours
Tend to be anxious, irritable, and highly
intelligent with Type A personality, including detail-oriented and perfectionistic
Prefer to work solo than in groups
Three Chronotype Classifications (Birds)
In his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel Pink points out there is a strong biological underpinning for whether you are sharpest in the morning or in the evening. He describes the three chronotypes as:
15% to 20% of the population
Naturally wake up very early and go to bed very early
Wear out by the evening
Peak energy in the early morning
15% to 20% of the population
Naturally wake up late and go to bed late
Sluggish in the morning
Peak energy in the late afternoon and early evening
Bird (intermediate person)
66% or 2/3 of population
Naturally wake up early and go to bed
Peak in the early to mid-morning
Larks and owls are at two ends of the spectrum. Their melatonin and cortisol levels rise and fall at different times in the 24-hour cycle. For example, melatonin is still high for night owls if they wake at 6 to 7 am, while it dips for larks before that time.
How to Find Out Your Chronotype
Paying attention to
your own natural rhythm is important to know when you are at your peak each day.
The ideal time to wake up, go to bed, and perform certain activities depends on
your chronotype, i.e. whether you are a morning person, an evening person, or
Here are four ways to find out your chronotype:
Take Power of When Quiz, created by Dr. Breus. Currently available at powerofwhenquiz.com, this is a short questionnaire that takes about two minutes to complete and provides a personalized choronotype. By answering questions on your sleep drive, sleep timing and preference, you will learn whether you are a Lion, Dolphin, Bear or Wolf and how your chronotype impacts your daily life.
Calculate Midpoint of Sleep, as outlined in Pink’s book.On a free day, when you have no appointments, meetings or time-sensitive obligations (and are not sleep-deprived), when do you naturally go to sleep and wake up? What is the midpoint of your sleep cycle? For example, if you go to bed at 12 am and wake at 8 am, your midpoint is 4 am. If your midpoint is 3:30 am or earlier, you are a Lark. If it is 5:30 am or later, you are an Owl. If you midpoint is somewhere in the middle, you are a Third Bird.
Track your energy level every hour and note how you feel on a scale of 1 to 10. Also note the task or activity and the time of day. A 10 is when you are at your sharpest, fully present, and can more easily get into a flow state. The lower the score, the more you feel drained, scattered, and open to distractions. Chart your scores over time for a week or two. Look for patterns related to when you are hitting 10s, 1s and in between.
Your Chronotype with the Task and Time of Day
The rises and dips in your circadian rhythm trigger changes in your mental alertness, emotional states and behaviors throughout the day. In addition to knowing your chronotype, you also need to sort your work into three types of categories: (1) analytic work that requires heads-down focus, (2) insight work that is open to possibilities, and (3) administrative work that is more routine.
You will produce the best results with the most ease if you do cognitively demanding tasks when you are at your peak (mornings for most people) and creative tasks when your mood boosts back up (early evening for most people). Save your busy work for when you are least productive, which is usually after lunch in the early afternoon, for most people.
This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as specific advice for any individual case or situation.
Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. Immigration Law and Legal Ethics. She is also a productivity coach for lawyers, consultants and other professionals who seek to reduce overwhelm and make time for what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps, an e-book at http://leanpub.com/incrementalist.
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