How being an introvert can affect your sleep, according to science

Posted by
Susan Devaney
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As all troubled sleepers out there will already know, getting a good night’s sleep can, at times, feel impossible. 

In fact, research from Silentnight reveals that a whopping 75% of us are regularly left searching for shut-eye come night time, with many blaming increased stress at work, home pressures and modern technology, for the absence of the sandman.

However, a new study has revealed that our frustrating bedtime experiences could be, in part, determined by our personalities: introverts are apparently far more likely to suffer from a disrupted sleep pattern than extroverts.

A study carried out on 1,000 Americans by Best Mattress Brand involved asking participants to undergo the Myers Briggs Test, which uses a series of questions to determine whether someone is an introvert or extrovert.

An introvert is typically known to be someone who prefers time alone and can be shy, while an extrovert enjoys spending time with others and can be outgoing.

Introverts are more likely to suffer from a disrupted sleep pattern than extroverts.

Once assigned one of two personality types, the participants were then asked questions related to their sleeping patterns, dreams and levels of alertness.

Researchers found that the extroverts were 17.7% more satisfied with their energy levels during the day. The introverts, on the other hand, were 14.8% less satisfied with how alert they feel during the day.

Prone to nightmares? Yeah, that might be due to your personality type, too.

Researchers concluded that introverts are more likely to experience nightmares and unclear dreams than extroverts – with extroverts having nightmares 8.3% less often than introverts. They dream about their teeth falling out 14.2% less often and dream about punching something with no effect 14% less than introverts.

However, there is a solution at hand: a new study has found that people can increase their chances of controlling their dreams (and banishing their nightmares) if they use the following techniques:

  1. Reality testing. This involves checking your ‘real’ environment several times a day to see if you’re dreaming (much like Inception).
  2. Wake back to bed. This technique requires waking after five hours of sleep, forcing yourself to stay awake for a short period, then going back to sleep in order to enter REM sleep (a specific kind of deep sleep characterised by more dreaming).
  3. MILD (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams). This method also involves waking up after five hours. Before going back to sleep, imagine yourself in a lucid dream and repeat the phrase: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming” several times.

And, when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, sleep experts have advised that we follow a five-step bedtime ritual (which you can find here): sticking to a strict regime, they say, is key to helping you relax and unwind before your head hits the pillow.

Sticking to a strict regime is key to helping you relax and unwind before your head hits the pillow.

While being an introvert may negatively impact our sleep regime, there are many positives to being a more reticent human being – the most notable of which is that introverts make for better CEOs.

Earlier this year, the CEO Genome Project has analysed the personalities of 2,000 CEOs, alongside their career history, business results, and behavioural patterns. Researchers then sifted through that information in a bid to work out what set apart the leaders from the followers, as well as those who excelled into the role from those who under performed.

The results were startling – and shattered the pervasive stereotype that a loud, charismatic, well-educated individual is more suited to the role of CEO.

Yes, high confidence more than doubles a candidate’s chances of being chosen as CEO – but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be any good at it. In fact, the researchers found that an extroverted personality “provides no advantage in performance on the job”.

Introverts rely on their unique traits (aka their inner reserve, composure, calmness, awareness of others, cautiousness, sensitivity, good listening skills, and preference for deep conversations over small talk) to get things done slowly, carefully, and, above all else, successfully.

After examining the data, researchers concluded – positively – that “leadership success is not a function of unalterable traits”. Which means that anyone can learn how to be a great CEO, so long as they put their mind to it.

Images: Stacy Rozells / iStock