Yes, fellow introvert, you really do need your sleep.

Yes, Fellow Introvert—You (and I!) Need to Get Some Good Sleep

Yes, some studies suggest that introverts do better than extroverts when short on sleep. But that doesn’t make borrowing against your sleep a great idea.

Sometimes you—well, I—need to get punched in the mouth repeatedly before you—er, I—give something the respect it deserves.

As I turn 57, I am coming to this sort of begrudging peace accord with sleep.

I have spent much of my adult life believing I could function fairly well on fairly little and/or fairly poor sleep.

And to be clear, the research backs me up on this front.

Kind of.

Specifically, some of the research out there suggests that, compared to our extroverted counterparts, we introverts function much better under conditions where we have been sleep deprived.


What the research does not say, however, is that we introverts—irrespective of how we compare to anyone else—function well under conditions where we have been sleep 

Turns out we—um, I—don’t.

When Sleep Is Lacking

I don’t really need a full-fledged, published study to tell me this.

All I have to do is look at the last 60 or so hours of my own life.

Call it a focus group of one.

Before I elaborate, let me just say that:

  1. I swear I am not making any of the following up. And …
  2. I don’t use hard drugs.

Two nights ago I slept terribly, finally giving up completely at 3:30 in the morning after an epic dream in which I was calling myself “SpongePete SquarePants” and leaping from the balcony to the main floor of an arena, shouting “let’s all sing!” and trying to get people to join me in belting out the live version of “I Want You to Want Me” from the classic 1978 album “Cheap Trick at Budokan.

Seriously, no hard drugs.

Anyway, my writing yesterday … sucked.

My No. 1 go-to tool as the introvert I am—my ability to think deeply and articulate those thoughts through my fingertips via the computer keyboard—well, with props to another great band, Aerosmith: It got up and went.

And it didn’t come back.

Until today.

Thanks to the near-opposite sleeping experience I had last night.

The Benefits of Better Sleep

No SpongePete last night.

No leaping.

No Budokan.

I awoke this morning feeling like a completely different person physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Now, I’m tempted to credit the Hershey’s Kisses I had last night—and not the night before!—but I know in my heart of hearts that the obvious answer, a good night’s sleep, is the correct answer in this case.

Still, it’s hard to part completely with an old—well, if not an old friend, then at least an old, trusty companion.

I rely, after all, on the occasional late night—when everyone else is in bed—to get the quiet alone time I so desperately want and need as an introvert.

My lovely wife Adrianne, an introvert herself, does the same thing when she wakes up very early each weekday, long before the rest of us, to get the quiet alone time she so desperately wants and needs before gearing up to do her literacy development work with 3- and 4-year-olds and their teachers.

If You’re Going to Borrow, Do It Sparingly

You probably have your own ways of borrowing from your sleep time to give yourself the time you need in other introverted areas of your life—particularly the crucial area of solitude.

Am I suggesting that you—and I—give this time up, or give it back?


But I am suggesting that you—and I—use the borrowing-from-sleep-time strategy sparingly.

Perhaps more sparingly than we—I—have cared to acknowledge in the past.

Because if you once again look at the research in the broad area of personality and sleep, you’ll find something else to be true:

While we introverts tend to function better than extroverts do on compromised sleep, we are also more likely than extroverts to have compromised sleep in the first place.

So take it from me—SpongePete SquarePants.

Take your sleep seriously, fellow introvert.

I’ll be doing the same.

2 replies
  1. Kurt Nicolai
    Kurt Nicolai says:

    If I have a less than average night’s sleep, I accept it and make the best of the day ahead. Then, I know I will sleep like a rock the next night. No medications or other substances needed! I think some people think they can get by on minimal sleep, but is it really worth it In The Long Run? (since you referenced a couple of classic songs this week)


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