Do you fall asleep quickly but wake up easily during the night? Perhaps you’re introverted. Introverts are more sensitive to sleep disruptions than other personality types. So, I found tips for light sleepers that are geared towards specific personality types. People with introverted personalities will find these tips interesting because their sleep patterns are different than people with extroverted personality traits.
Introverts have more sleep problems than extroverts, according to personality research and Susan Cain’s book Quiet. I bet you didn’t know that your personality significantly affects your ability to sleep soundly all night. People with introverted personality traits may also be more prone to insomnia caused by travel-related jet lag. If you’re an introvert who travels a lot and sleeps lightly, read Tired of Insomnia? 10 Natural Ways to Overcome Jet Lag.
If you don’t know whether or not you’re predominantly introverted or extroverted, read Are You an Introvert? A Test for Introverted Personality Traits. It’s fast and easy; you’ll be able to quickly tell if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. On the scale of introverted-extroverted personality traits, I definitely have more introverted characteristics. But, oddly, I have no problem sleeping. In the past, my main problem was falling asleep. I had an overactive brain and imagination – I would stay up into the wee hours, worrying.
I had to learn to fall asleep fast and get a good night’s sleep because I have ulcerative colitis. The less I sleep, the more it flares. I trained myself to sleep soundly and deeply anywhere – even in a loud, crowded airport or long, dull work meeting. Most of my tips focus on the sleeping habits of people with introverted personality traits – especially for those who are light sleepers and who have trouble resetting their internal clocks.
Research on Introverts and Sleep
Research from Carnegie Mellon University found that neither introverted nor extroverted personality traits affected how long people sleep. However, personality appears to affect certain aspects of the timing and subjective quality of sleep. A different study in The British Journal of Psychiatry found that extraverts sleep longer than introverts, and that extraverts sleep less after the administration of sedatives (as compared to introverts).
Extroverts adapt more quickly to time zone changes, which means they won’t need to worry as much about jet lag remedies. Introverts, on the other hand, have a physiology that resists time changes.
“The principal problem is resetting the body’s clock,” writes Pierce Howard, PhD, in The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. “Introverted people need more help doing this.” He adds that the major factors in resetting the body clock are the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. Introverts might learn how to sleep better if they knew how to control melatonin in particular.
If you’re an introvert who snores (or you sleep with an extroverted snorer), read Acupuncture for Snoring – A Natural Remedy for Good Sleep. I also included a few tips on how to stop snoring below, because light sleepers can’t sleep well next to loud snorers.
Some psychologists believe introverts sleep better than extroverts
“Introversion involves the inward movement of libidinal or life energy and a valuation, preference for and focus on interior over exterior reality,” writes Stephen Diamond, Ph.D. in Do Introverts Need More Sleep than Extraverts? “Sleep is the primal form of introversion, a state in which we temporarily but regularly withdraw almost totally from the outer world and journey to the fathomless depths of the inner world. Indeed, temporary paralysis during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep pretty much precludes us from physically interacting significantly with the external environment.”
Diamond adds that for the introvert, sleep and dreaming is a welcome way of connecting to his or her true nature. Sleep for introverts is about receiving energy, power and wisdom to be in the outer world more meaningfully, authentically and successfully. That’s how I see sleep, and perhaps why I sleep better than some introverts.
Are you an introvert? Take this Test for Introverted Personality Traits to find out.
5 Sleep Tips for Introverts and Light Sleepers
There is a difference between adapting to a sleep disruption, such as when you travel or work in shifts, versus trying to create a solid sleep schedule that suits your introverted personality. These tips on how to fall asleep focus on how introverts can reset body clocks after travel or shiftwork.
1. Accept – don’t resist – your body’s response to sleeplessness
The more energy you put toward resisting and fighting your body’s natural response to jet lag and nighttime noises, the harder it’ll be to fall and stay asleep. Face it: you are a light sleeper. Accepting your body fully, without stressing out, will help you relax. The calmer you are, the more effective these sleep tips will be.
Many introverts feel embarrassed or even ashamed by their personality traits. They feel odd or weird because they aren’t like extroverts who gain energy from being the center of attention and in large groups of people. This first tip for introverts isn’t just how to sleep better, it’s about accepting your body and personality for who you are. You need to be at peace with yourself before you fall into a peaceful, deep, healthy sleep. The more knowledge and self-awareness you have about how introverts sleep – and your own personality traits – the better equipped you’ll be to learn how to fall asleep quickly and easily.
2. Prepare in advance to deal with sleep disruptions
If you have to travel through time zones or do shift work, your introverted personality needs more Tender Loving Care (TLC) than extroverts. Light therapy helps, and so does eating dairy products and carbohydrates to help you sleep better. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and food additives for six hours before you try to sleep after a time-zone change or a new round of shift work.
Does your partner snore? Snoring is caused by relaxed and sagging tissues at the back of the throat. As you fall deeper into sleep, the tongue relaxes, and so do the soft tissues of the throat and the roof of the mouth (soft palate). These tissues can sag into the airway, causing it to narrow. As air is inhaled or exhaled through the narrowed opening, the relaxed tissues of the soft palate vibrate. The result is snoring.
It’s been said that singing reduces snoring and sleep apnea. The theory is that singing and tongue exercises firm up the throat muscles and soft palate, thus decreasing the noisy vibrations. Singing may also improve throat muscle control and exercise the tongue muscles. Similarly, some studies that report playing the didgeridoo – an Aboriginal musical instrument – can improve sleep quality. Are those effective sleep tips for light sleepers and introverts? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
3. Consider melatonin to reset your body clock
Melatonin is a natural hormone that is secreted from your pineal gland. As the day ends and darkness falls, melatonin gives your body the hormonal signal that it’s time to go to sleep. Getting the proper amount of melatonin is how to sleep better (whether you’re an introvert or extrovert).
Maxi Mel-O-Chew is a safe, natural, effective sleep aid that helps fight jet lag and helps people get better sleep. Falling asleep fast and staying asleep will be easier with this safe, natural supplement that reduces restlessness, nighttime anxiety and insomnia.
“If you’re traveling through a time zone, take 6 mg of melatonin (the laboratory kind, not the animal-extracted variety) prior to departure when it’s 11:30 pm in your destination,” writes Dr Howard in The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. “As soon as possible after arriving, immerse yourself in the sun – go for a walk, bike ride, sunbathe.” The evening after your arrival, take another 3 mg of melatonin.”
3. Drink milk to put your inner introvert to sleep
Does drinking a glass of warm milk before bed really help you sleep better? Try it and see! If it works for you, then yes: warm milk before going to bed helps light sleepers fall asleep fast and stay sleeping all night long. If it doesn’t work for you, then it’s time to try other nighttime rituals.
Some research says that the L-tryptophan in milk products stimulate melatonin production, which improves sleep for both introverts and extroverts. That’s why people say that a cup of warm milk before bed is a natural, easy tip on how to sleep better. Why warm milk? Because warmer dairy products metabolize more quickly than cooler ones and the warmth is comforting. That’s why warm milk is purported to help people fall asleep faster. If you try this tip for light sleepers, don’t put artificial sweeteners in the milk. They tend to increase alertness.
4. Sleep with the most comfortable pillow, mattress, and bedding
A couple years ago my husband and I invested in memory foam sleep pillows and a mattress. I was hoping it’d stop the snoring that reverberates through our bedroom every night (sorry for keeping you up at night, husband!) but it didn’t. Even if a memory foam pillow and mattress doesn’t prevent snoring or magically make light sleepers fall asleep and stay sleeping all night long, at least they can lie awake in comfort.
The Sleep Innovations Contour Memory Foam Pillow puts the back of your head lower than the area behind your neck. By tilting your head back somewhat, it opens up your airway significantly. Another tip on how to stop snoring is to use an Asian husk-filled roll-type pillow to sleep better and perhaps snore less.
If you don’t sleep well, consider a memory foam mattress or pillow, such as the Memory Foam Mattress Bed Topper. A memory foam mattress or pillow is the first tip on how to fall asleep for both introverts and extroverts because they instantly make any bed more restful, comfortable and supportive. Memory foam is less expensive than buying a new mattress, and more effective because it reduces pressure points that cause you to toss and turn. This helps you fall asleep and sleep better!
5. Learn about your introverted personality traits
How much do you know about being an introvert? I bet you didn’t know this: “The highly sensitive introvert tends to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic,” writes Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
“Introverts dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions – sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly.”
If you’re an introvert, learn about your personality traits and habits. The more you know about yourself, the easier it’ll be to find the sleep tips that work for you.
Would you rather be shopping than trying to fall asleep? Read 10 Gifts for Insomniacs and People Who Can’t Sleep.
Sources: 1) Costello, C. G., and C. M. Smith. “The relationships between personality, sleep and the effects of sedatives.” The British Journal of Psychiatry 109.461 (1963): 568-571; and 2) The Owner’s Manual for the Brain by Pierce Howard, PhD.