Are you an introvert, extrovert, or maybe an ambivert (a bit of both)? Turns out your personality can make a big difference at bedtime.
A recent survey of 2,000 Americans, commissioned by beverage company LIFEAID, found that only 8% of respondents feel fully rested after a night’s sleep. Americans who said they don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be introverted (29%)—and 68% of them blame stress for keeping them awake at night. Introverts also tend to be more particular about sleeping in the right conditions (64%).
At the same time, Americans who said they do get enough sleep at night are more likely to be extroverts (22%)—and 55% are less likely to allow stress to prevent them from sleep. Not only that, but 61% of extroverts say they don’t care about their sleeping conditions.
Learn more about how your personality type affects your sleep—and what you can do to sleep better as an introvert or extrovert.
Introvert vs. extrovert: how your personality type impacts sleep
An introvert is someone who limits social interactions and prefers calm environments. An extrovert, on the other hand, is someone who is outgoing and thrives in social situations.
It’s important to note that most of us aren’t fully introverts or extroverts. “Introversion and extroversion are often not binary,” says John P. Carnesecchi, licensed clinical social worker and clinical director and founder of New York-based gatewaytosolutions.org. “Most people are on a spectrum.”
Although he says that 75% of all people fall within the extrovert end of the spectrum, we “start shifting more towards the introvert spectrum” as we age. Those of us who fall in the middle are ambiverts.
“Anxiety plays a role in introverts’ and extroverts’ sleep issues,” says Carnesecchi. “Shutting off the mind is extremely difficult.” He says both introversion and extroversion are “all about energy, not about being social,” a common misunderstanding.
Carnesecchi says introverts can deplete their energy by finding themselves in larger social gatherings rather than the smaller groups they prefer. This can lead to what he calls an “introvert hangover—intense fatigue generally lasting 48 hours, producing a poor sleep quality, nightmares, and many wakeful moments.”
Extroverts are the opposite—but anxiety can also impact their sleep. “Extroverts need to release their energy to alleviate their stress,” says Carnesecchi. They are energized in social settings and need to engage in group activities and verbalize to process their feelings, he adds.
Sleep tips for introverts
“Broadly speaking, introverts tend to have a richer inner life and are more likely to lie in bed thinking because they can’t shut off the thoughts running through their head,” says Brian Wind, PhD, clinical psychologist, chief clinical officer of addiction treatment center JourneyPure, and adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University. “They have to quiet their thoughts before they sleep and get ready to rest.”
Wind points out that sharing their bed can also affect introverts’ ability to recharge, impacting how they wind down and prepare for sleep.
“For an introvert to have a good night’s sleep,” says Carnesecchi, “they need to re-connect with their inner world; home, quietly in bed, read a book, dimming the lights, or sit silently using visualization imagery.”
He likes to encourage clients to imagine themselves on a beautifully decorated hot air balloon ride on a sunny blue-sky day, drifting peacefully together with loved ones or a pet toward a favorite place to visit or that they want to visit. The place brings calmness, joy, and peace.
“The imagery will put a wedge to the pathological thoughts and gives your brain a break,” says Carnesecchi. “This will allow the area of the brain that is ‘overused’ to relax.”
Donna Novak, PsyD, clinical psychologist in Simi Valley, Calif., who specializes in treating anxiety, says both introverts and extroverts can benefit from repeating a set of mantras or affirmations before bedtime.
For introverts, she suggests repeating statements like, “I know that it is my anxiety telling me to worry about all the social interactions of the day, and in actuality everything is good,” and “I am perfectly good being who I am. I don’t need to allow my anxiety to take over.”
Sleep tips for extroverts
Extroverts are people persons. They’re energized by being around others and talking things out to process their thoughts and ideas. But this can cut into bedtime, big time.
“When it is time for bed,” says Carnesecchi, “extroverts can suffer from FOMO, or fear of missing out: Lying in bed, contemplating what they might be missing or what they can do can keep them awake.”
For this reason, it’s important to reduce mental and physical stimulation and disconnect from the outside world by turning off the phone and other devices and leaving social media for the night.
Carnesecchi recommends dimming the lights, a lavender sachet under the pillow, no screen time, blackout shades, calming music, and a white noise machine in the bedroom.
Novak suggests affirmations for extroverts that separate the individual from the “busyness” that makes them feel alive and connected—such as repeating things like, “being a part of something doesn’t define my worth,” or “I know that I am loved by those in my life.”
Sleep advice both introverts and extroverts can use
For both introverts and extroverts, Novak recommends making time before bed to take care of themselves.
“This can be done in many ways, but journaling out one’s thoughts is a very helpful strategy,” she says. “Oftentimes, the negative self-talk and fears are swimming in our minds before bed. Journaling allows these thoughts to land on paper so they can help get cleared from our mind and we essentially know they are placed somewhere.”
The bottom line: Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, a relaxed and quiet mind is the key to a good night’s sleep.
Introvert or extrovert, it doesn’t matter—try these nighttime activities to help you relax, no matter your personality type.