Discover what your chronotype is and how it will help you perform better

Training 02/03/24 15:06 Migue A.

The chronotype is responsible for some people being more active early in the morning and others being so late in the afternoon. In fact, each person can experience the peak of energy at three different times of the day. Knowing the schedules of melatonin -a key hormone in this process- and knowing our chronotype can be useful for planning the training in that time window in which we are predisposed to perform better.

The chronotype: the tool that reveals the peak of energy

There are people who early in the day have an extra energy that allows them to get up early without problems, although they are forced to redouble efforts when they have to stay up late; on the other hand, there are those who prefer nightlife and suffer when the alarm clock rings in the morning. This feeling is a reality and it's called chronotype. This natural cycle is useful to know at what time we can perform better and organize our day accordingly.

The chronotype programs the preferred schedule for sleeping and the time when the body will have the most energy. It is something genetic, so there is little that can be done about it. Despite the preferences pre-installed in our body, we have enough flexibility to adapt to other schedules, although we will feel more comfortable in ours.

Thus, if circumstances allow, the ideal is to adapt routines to the chronotype, instead of scheduling the day at times that go against what our genetics dictate.

The first step is to know what our chronotype is. There are three main types -as explained by the International Institute of Melatonin (IiMEL)-: morning, evening and intermediate. As for the percentage of people classified within each one, the first two gather 25% of the population, while the rest -50%- belong to the intermediate group.

Continuing with the explanation of the IiMEL, in people with morning chronotype "cognitive functions are maximum in the morning" and are predisposed to go to bed early and get up early. In the evening, these functions are developed to the maximum in the afternoon and at night, so they tend to go to bed and get up late. Finally, the intermediate is halfway between one and the other.

The melatonin is the key in all this; although everyone sleeps the same hours, the body receives the signal to sleep at different times. The circadian rhythm of melatonin has its maximum at 3:00 h in the intermediate group; more/less two or three hours in the other cases. This is the cause for the energy peak also varies according to the chronotype.

Even so, it should be mentioned that the accounts are not exact and that within each chronotype there are also variations. In addition, there is a fourth group that changes between one chronotype and another.

How to know the chronotype and how it can help to improve performance

It is possible that with the previous descriptions there are those who already know what chronotype they belong to. However, there are also some methods that help to shed light on this question. First of all, and as the most reliable option, a genetic test can be performed. 

Another method is to take advantage of the genetic nature of the chronotype and observe the schedule preferences of the parents -what time they go to bed, when they get up or at what time they have more energy-, which can give us a clue. In addition, it is possible to do online questionnaires or use a activity tracking device that offers this data -although it should be noted that in most cases they only use the data from the last few days to calculate it-.

Finally, you can measure for several days the body temperature at each hour of the afternoon . The body lowers the temperature when it's time to sleep, so the following can be established: if it starts to drop around seven in the evening it is likely to be classified as morning chronotype, if it does at nine it is likely to be intermediate and if it happens at ten at night it is possible that it is a evening type.

Once the chronotype is classified, the ideal is for the training to adapt to make the pedaling coincide with the moment of greatest energy, as well as to avoid those less productive moments of the day. However, this fantasy clashes with the reality of many cyclists -and people in general-, who have to deal with family and work responsbilities that make this option impossible.

In cases where scheduling training at the energy peak is science fiction, it is also useful to know the chronotype. Despite having little use in most days, it is a tool that can be used when circumstances allow. The chronotype can help to try to achieve a higher performance, although in reality it is just one of the many factors that intervene in the production of watts.



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