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Are you an introvert or an extrovert? These personality types have a big effect on how you live your life, but have you ever considered how they may impact your sleep?
All people can be vulnerable to sleep problems, but introverted people can also face some unique challenges when it comes to getting healthy sleep. For example— do introverts sleep more, or need more sleep than extroverts? Are introverts more likely to be sleep-deprived?
The solution is an interesting one— but before we get into that, let’s take a look at these two personality types, and what makes them so different from each other.
What Is An Introvert?
Put simply, an introvert is a person who tends to be quiet, introspective, and enjoys spending time alone or with small groups of people. However, this is a very simple definition that doesn’t account for many of the traits that create an introverted personality. Common traits of introversion include:
- Feeling comfortable being alone
- Feeling tired or worn out after spending time in crowds or at a social event— this is sometimes called “social burnout” or an “introvert hangover”
- Fewer friends, but closer friendships
- Are contemplative and take plenty of time to make decisions
- Preferring to work solo rather than in a group
- Preferring writing over speaking
There are a number of myths surrounding introverts, such as they don’t like people, or that they have social anxiety. That is all they are— myths, some of which can unfairly demonize people who live normal and healthy lives. There are many different kinds of introverts with many different personality traits. Some of these include:
- The social introvert: What most people probably imagine when they think of introverts— a social introvert prefers spending time alone or in smaller groups of people.
- The thinking introvert: Those who spend a lot of time in their thoughts, and are often very creative.
- The anxious introvert: Those who are often shy or awkward around others, and may prefer to be alone because of it.
- The restrained introvert: Those who tend to be cautious and meticulous when making decisions.
What is an Extrovert?
On the other hand, an extrovert is a person who thrives on social interaction. Common traits of extroversion include:
- Tending to be more outgoing and people-oriented
- Preferring to spend time with people, or avoiding being alone
- May be more likely to be impulsive
- Thriving in busy or bustling environments
- Having no difficulty in expressing themselves or their feelings
The fact is, people aren’t either introverted or extroverted. Traits of introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum— and all people can show traits of both. And like I said earlier, both personality types can be vulnerable to sleep problems. However, if you’re more of an introvert, you may potentially experience some unique issues at bedtime.
Do Introverts Sleep More?
In short, no. While introverts may need more rest or time to recover following social events, they don’t need any more sleep than the average adult does. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you will always need between 7 and 9 hours of good quality sleep nightly to be at your best.
However, it can be difficult for someone with an introverted personality to find the respite they need to feel recharged in what likely feels like an extrovert world. Unfortunately, this can lead to potentially poor sleep or sleepless nights for many introverts.
According to a study published by the Health Psychology journal, introverts are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation than extroverts are. They are also more likely to have a lot of nightmares or periods of wakefulness. Because of this, introverts are more likely to feel more tired or less alert during the day.
Thankfully though, there are ways for introverts to help themselves get the healthy sleep they need each night.
5 Sleep Tips for Introverts
Proper rest can help even the most introverted individuals recover from social exhaustion and be ready to take on the next day. One of the best ways to achieve this is by maintaining healthy sleep habits each night. Here are five simple solutions to help introverts avoid sleep loss and get a good night’s sleep every night.
1. Keep a Sleep Journal
A sleep journal is a place where you can record your thoughts and feelings before bed. Bedtime worry is a significant cause of delayed sleep onset, or difficulty falling asleep. By processing your feelings in a healthy and productive way, you can blow off steam, de-stress, and put an anxious mind to rest before you fall asleep each night.
There’s no right or wrong way to keep a sleep journal, but here are a few suggestions that can help you get started:
- Make a to-do list for the next day
- Write down things that make you happy, or good things that happened during the day
- Vent your worries or your frustrations, or document anything that’s troubling you so that you can make sense of them and provide some stress relief
You can keep a sleep journal in any kind of journal or notebook, but I personally recommend those from Best Self Journals and Planners.
2. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are simple practices that you can do to help yourself relieve stress, cope with stressful situations or anxiety, and unwind after a long day. There are many different kinds of relaxation techniques out there— here are a few of my favorites:
- Breathing exercises, like the 4-7-8 Technique
- Guided imagery
- Progressive relaxation
3. Don’t Stay in Bed if You Can’t Sleep
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, the worst thing you can do is stay in bed. This can make you associate your bed with the anxiety and frustration you feel when you can’t sleep, which will make it harder to get a restful night’s sleep.
Instead, if you haven’t fallen asleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed. Walk quietly around the house, write in your sleep journal— the important thing is to get up and take your mind off falling asleep. After a few minutes, you can get back into bed and try again.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, I also recommend trying my “middle of the night” Sleep Doctor PM formula. Two sprays of this natural formula under your tongue can help you fall back asleep quickly, but without the morning grogginess you would get from other sleep supplements.
4. Make Your Bedroom a Perfect Place to Sleep and Recharge
Getting the sleep you need is a challenge if your sleep environment is actively preventing you from resting. Here are a few ways you can update your bedroom so you can get a good nights sleep:
- If you’re concerned about outdoor ambient light like sunlight or city lights waking you up, consider installing blackout curtains on your bedroom windows.
- If unwanted light inside is keeping you awake, use an eye mask, like those from Manta Sleep, to block it out.
- If you’re concerned about noise, earplugs are a simple and accessible solution. If you prefer some sound, a sound machine can create relaxing sounds or white noise to help you relax and sleep peacefully.
- Adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. The ideal sleep temperature for most people is between 64 and 67 degrees, but you can adjust this as needed according to personal preference.
- Keep your bedroom clean and the floors free of clutter. A clean bedroom can be especially helpful if you experience nighttime allergy symptoms. Tidy floors are an absolute must if you ever need to get up during the night as well.
It may seem like a no-brainer to make sure your bedroom is perfect for sleeping, but the small issues can really add up. However, by addressing these issues big or small, you can help prevent arousal during the night and get an uninterrupted and restful night’s sleep.
5. Give Yourself Time to Wind Down and Relax Before Bedtime
Bedtime is not the time to worry about what happened during the day, or what will happen tomorrow. Instead, set aside some time every evening before bed dedicated to relaxation.
I recommend following the Power Down Hour each night before bed. This will help you finish your day’s business and wind down for the night in three 20-minute increments.
- In the first 20 minutes, finish any unfinished tasks like light housework or taking care of your pets.
- In the second 20 minutes, use this time to do something relaxing, like practice relaxation techniques, write in your sleep journal, or talk to family members.
- In the last 20 minutes, take care of nightly ablutions like brushing your teeth, washing your face, or bathing.
If you’re an introvert, it can be tricky getting the rest you need sometimes. But whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, or maybe even somewhere in-between, a good night’s sleep is key to feeling rested, building resilience to life’s stresses, and being ready to take on life’s challenges.
If you’re struggling with sleep loss or poor sleep quality, I hope you give these simple solutions a try tonight. You may be surprised at how well they work!
Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM
The Sleep Doctor