- Your circadian rhythm affects a lot more than just sleep.
- The 24-hour cycle also affects when you’re best suited to go on dates and have sex.
- Some people feel energized by having morning sex, while others prefer doing it before going to sleep.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Mackenzie Sweeney needs a solid 90 minutes to wake up in the morning, but her partner is never on the same groggy page.
When Sweeney, a productivity coach, crawls out of bed around 7:30AM, her husband is already wide awake and working. Their mismatched morning energy levels could cause tension in a relationship, but Sweeney happens to specialize in planning her day around natural highs and lows.
The 24-hour cycle that wakes you up in the morning and makes you tired at bedtime — known as the circadian rhythm — is not the same for everyone. Scientists have identified four distinct chronotypes, or patterns of alertness and tiredness.
Sweeney makes TikTok videos about planning the ideal day for your chronotype under the handle @the.productivity.coach. She spoke to Insider about how to navigate dating and sex according to your natural sleep and wake cycle.
Different chronotypes can be compatible as long as you communicate
The four chronotypes are often described as four different animals: lion, bear, wolf, and dolphin.
Sweeney told Insider she’s a bear type, which means she lives by the sun and is generally slow to wake up. She said her husband is an early-to-rise lion type, so he’s usually up by 6 AM and feels tired by dinnertime.
This doesn’t mean the couple is incompatible, but they have to communicate when they do and don’t feel mentally present, since those times don’t always line up.
“A lot of tension in relationships comes from not syncing up and knowing when the best times to communicate are,” Sweeney said.
Go on dates during your peak communication time
Each chronotype has peak times for communication, creativity, and deep work throughout the day, Sweeney said. Although you can date outside of your communication window, you’re best prepared to flirt when you’re at that peak.
Most people reach their communication peaks after their stress hormone, cortisol, has leveled out for the day. For bears and wolves, this happens around 4 to 6PM, Sweeney said.
“When your cortisol is a little bit lower, essentially you’re not critiquing as information comes in,” Sweeney said. “Because imagine if you were to sit down with a date, and all you’re doing is critiquing. You’re not going to enjoy yourself.”
The communication peak is also a great time to meet new people if you’re casually dating, Sweeney said. Conveniently, happy hours are usually scheduled around 5 o’clock.
Not all chronotypes feel chattiest in the afternoon. Lions are the most communicative a couple hours after breakfast, so they might be fading by happy hour. Dolphins actually have an upside down circadian rhythm, which means their deep focus time aligns with other types’ social peak.
Sex can either help you wake up or put you to sleep, depending on your type
One benefit of being an early rising lion is that you can “pretty much have sex at any time of day and be able to fall asleep afterwards,” Sweeney said. Because lions are up so early, they exhaust most of their cortisol in the first two thirds of their day and generally go to bed early.
Other types — specifically bears who are cisgender women — might have a harder time falling asleep right after sex, since their body temperature needs 30 to 90 minutes to cool back down.
Sweeney said bears and wolves are best off having sex first thing in the morning. Both types are slow to wake up, and an orgasm may be exactly what they need to start the day.
“Sex pulls all of the blood to the vital organs, and with an orgasm you get all of these happy hormones — serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin — that kickstart your day in a way that you cannot create in a cold shower,” she said.
Dolphins may prefer having sex in the evenings for a couple reasons: as insomniacs, they don’t have the best associations with going to bed, and sex can help change that. Additionally, having sex 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime will cue their body temperature and cortisol to drop before they go to sleep.
Whether you’re having sex in the morning or night — and with another person or by yourself — it’s a great way to increase serotonin and make yourself less reactive to stress, Sweeney said.
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