Off the Shelf: The Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus (Book Review)

We go by our daily lives and do not consider if we do simple things like waking, going to bed, etc. at the right time.

Like everyone else, I never gave much thought to that except to the frequent reminders by mom to go to bed earlier for the benefit of my health. However, I was fascinated by the circadian system, also known as the ‘biological clock’, which affects every area of the body, controlling everything from the multiplication of cancer cells to the integrity of the immune system.

For example, the gut has a circadian pacemaker of its own – when it is not on its biological clock schedule, hormone disruption causes increased levels of inflammation, inefficient metabolism and that’s when you will notice the phrase ‘growing sideways’ turn into reality.

Therefore when I came upon this book, I immediately got myself a copy after seeing the summary in my Kinokuniya members’ newsletter: “Read this book to unlock knowledge and understanding of ‘when’ you function best, and ‘when’ others function best, to allow you to put your best ideas forward, be most creative, and be open to instruction. This book will allow you to learn ‘when’ you can truly be your best on many levels”.

According to clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus, your genetics can tell you when it is the perfect time to do just about anything.

“It’s biologically driven. It’s based on your genetics. As a matter of fact, it’s the PER3 gene that actually the length of it tells us a lot about what time you want to sleep and how much you want to sleep,” Dr. Breus shared in his book, “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype”, where he explained how matching your schedule to your chronotype can help you live a healthier, more productive life.

His research proves there is a right time to do just about everything, based on our biology and hormones – working with your body’s inner clock for maximum health, happiness, and productivity is easy, exciting, and fun.

Your chronotype is your internal, biological clock, which helps determine when to sleep, when to wake, when to eat, and when to do many other things that we take for granted in life.

Traditional sleep researchers have categorised five different chronotypes, and everybody has one, but unsatisfied with the existing set of chronotype measures typically used in research, Dr. Breus created his own for this book.

The research shared by Dr. Breus in his book is that the vast majority of people (fifty percent or more) are, like me, Bears. The other three categories equally make up the remaining fifty per cent and tend to be less in sync with social norms.

According to Dr. Breus, these groups do not run on the same bio-time, nor do they have the same metabolism. He also spends some time ensuring you understand there are no hybrid chronotypes, and you really need to pick the single category that best fits with your actual behaviours.

The second part of the book is devoted to major life areas: relationships, fitness, health, sleep, eat and drink, work, creativity, money, and fun. Each chapter is devoted to a deep-dive in each of these sections and talk about the failure, success, and science behind the topic, as well as what each chronotype should strive to do.

For instance, in the chapter on sleep, the author discusses waking, napping, sleeping in, and bed times – Should you sleep in on the weekends? What kinds of things can you do to be more awake during the day? The idea is that if you follow the advice and formulas that correspond with your chronotype, you would live a more fulfilling, healthier, and happier life.

Chronotypes can also come in handy when finding a partner – you would better understand yourself and others – especially those with a different chronotype than your own. For example, Breus explained that lions and wolves do not go very well together because of their different sleep schedules.

“If you’re a lion and you’re an early riser, by 8:30 [p.m.] you’re done,” Dr. Breus shared. “If you’re a wolf, that’s the time you’re ready to get going.”

The third part of the book details your chronotype’s interaction with seasonal patterns (including a woman’s monthly pattern), and how chronotypes shift as we age.

“By the time I hit 50, 55, I’m going to start to move more into a dolphin or lionesque stage … because there’s a depletion of melatonin as we age,” added Dr. Breus.

In a nutshell, you should read this book if you would like to learn more about how your natural biological, inherited rhythms affects every aspect of your life. This understanding about your innate clock may perhaps unlock knowledge about yourself and the needs that fit best with your chronotype.


Categories: Books Review

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