Here’s why finding out which one you are matters.
I’m kind of obsessed with sleep. When I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about how to do more of it, how to do it better, or whether I’m doing it right. You can laugh, but sleep majorly impacts your health and your daily quality of life. A recent study classified 16 different sleeping styles and scientists hope that this data could help us all live (and sleep) better.
The Japanese study, which was published last month in the medical journal PNAS, analyzed the data from 103,200 individuals from the U.K. Biobank, a biomedical database that gives researchers around the world access to giant human datasets. The data was collected using wearables that recorded each participant's sleep patterns — or lack thereof. Scientists then classified the data using different criteria — like time spent laying down to sleep but not actually sleeping — to create 16 categories of human sleep styles, or phenotypes.
The groupings are split into five large categories, called clusters, labeled one to five. People in the first cluster generally experience insomnia, then sleep for a long period, but wake up in the middle of the night. Folks in cluster five sleep all the way through the night without taking naps in the day. Each cluster is then divided into subcategories that get more granular. Cool, right? Apparently, I’m a 4b-2, a.k.a. a morning person.
While this may seem like nothing more than a cute self-help quiz, researchers think this system of categories might be quite important. For one thing, this system has helped scientists define seven different kinds of insomnia, including four new types. Insomnia affects the health of 70 million Americans, but because different kinds of insomnia impact the body differently, it’s crucial to be able to identify the details. The hope is that the patterns identified in this study will help us diagnose sleep disorders more easily and will lead to further research into everyone’s favorite pastime.