An Introvert’s Strange Sleeping Disorder

 

introvert sleep secrets

2 am knows all my secrets. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m an introvert. We introverts crave the absolute solitude that only the cloak of night can offer. While others are snoozing soundly, dreaming of showing up to school naked, we are wide awake. And enjoying every minute.

I used to think that my strange sleeping patterns were just a glitch in my internal clock, something I could fix with practice and determination. But now I know that there are just too many factors that keep an introvert like me awake at night.

Quiet house, loud thoughts

Since nighttime is usually the quietest time of day in any home, it is also when we introverts hear our own thoughts most clearly. When the lights go out, our brain turns on.

We think about our problems, our projects, our passions, and our people. While others stay up to canoodle with their partners, we whisper sweet nothings in our own ear. We must copulate with every idea, dream, and worry until our brain puts on its flannel pyjamas and says it has a headache.

Secret conversations

Late at night is also when we have the best and most honest conversations with ourselves. Some might call this weird, or even crazy. In truth, our inner conversations are what keep an introvert sane. Unfortunately, they also keep us sleep deprived much of the time.

On top of our own thoughts, we have another more sneaky adversary on our quest for eight hours of good night’s sleep.

The sneakiest sleep thief

This particular obstacle has gotten in the way of me and my bed too many times to count. What makes it so tricky to avoid is the fact that it seems completely innocent. It’s something that everyone does. Even extroverts, I’m told, fall prey to the enticements of this cunning sleep thief.

Take the other night, for example. I was all ready for bed: teeth brushed, face washed, onesie on. I even turned the corner of my duvet down so that my bed looked more inviting. “Come on in,” it seemed to say, “let’s make sweet sweet dreams, baby”.

So, I did climb in with every intention of closing my eyes, and falling into a deep and blissful sleep. But …

Instead of shutting my eyes, I opened a book, and I would not – COULD NOT – close it until I reached the last page. And just like that, all my grand plans for a restful sleep were thwarted.

Indeed, many a noble introvert have given into the allure of a good book late at night. There is another even more destructive (and seductive) sleep thief that keeps introverts up at night.

Where am I, and why are my eyeballs twitching?!

Nowadays, we also have our phones to contend with at bedtime. Within a palm-sized piece of plastic and metal lies endless hours of late night distractions. Except with this sneaky sleep deprivation contraption there is no last page. We can scroll, and click, and read until our eyeballs start to twitch and we don’t know what month we are in.

In lieu of useful advice …

As you can see, there are many a reason to stay up at night as an introvert. I could give you some advice on how to get more shut-eye, but it would probably be so boring it would put you to sleep (and I secretly want you to stay up and read all my best blog posts ;)).

So, instead, I will leave you with this:

introvert sleep

Okay, that was kinda mean. Let’s try this again …

introvert sleep cat

Okay, okay, this one is nicer, I swear:

introvert sleep doggy

 

What about you? Does 2 am know all your secrets? What keeps you up at night? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. 😉

Xo,

Michaela-Signature

54 Comments

  1. Hi Michaela, yes so true, my intrapersonal communication does keep me awake at night, usually I’m trying to understand women better, Fi doms to be more precise. As I tend to think I move, and when I move I do strange things like hop around and pick up lint on the carpet, then I catch myself wondering what the hell I’m doing, and asking why I can’t just vacuum the floors during the day. I guess I do my best thinking while being on activity auto pilot. Other times I just stare off into space and time. Sometimes I average 4 hours of sleep a night, other times when I’m really baffled and trying to solve things I my head, like trying to rationalize behavior in someone to find a positive intention and really understand them well enough to make adjustments in my own behavior or ask them to change because I’m getting hurt is all done usually between 12 A.M. and Sunrise…. After doing this for several days and if I make it to the weekend I’ll crash for 12 hours or more to recover. When I was in the military I didn’t have that luxury so at times I would end up with pneumonia. Nowadays, I keep my books downstairs and phone on the kitchen counter to charge overnight and laptop shutdown and TV off, to avoid temptation. I still think deeply most nights, yet I need my beauty sleep. 🙂

    P.S. I love your humor, it’s dark and innocent at the same time, now that takes creative talent!!

    Michaela, this is really random but do you smell supdog, sometimes at night too?

    Reply
    • Thanks James! I know what you mean about thinking and moving. Sometimes, activity dislodges blocked thoughts. Good idea leaving your phone in the kitchen.

      I think I know where you’re going with the “supdog” question. So my answer is: how would you describe the smell of supdog?

      Reply
      • I totally agree activity does just that, I tend to wander around when I need to think or make a connection and it’s kind of funny though because that’s something you would normally do, considering that you would engage in Si while taking a walk so you could mull things over. Even though Se is about outer senses for me visual things, I think maybe the change in environment helps me solve puzzles in my mind by connecting dots as I tend to have a lot of intense energy and passion especially when I’m trying to help others, which is usually why I like to move anyway as I get anxious if I just sit around, not to say I don’t enjoy down time and a quiet night in so I can connect, I think if there is a task to be done, I feel compelled to do it, as accomplishments and work play a big role in my self worth.

        Oh goody an abstract test!! 😉 I love those kinds of questions. 🙂 Well first I’d say that your question make no scents. However I think since I made a terrible pun it still smells kind of funny like old books or Dad’s aftershave, or was that my dear old Dad and after shaven books. Oh I can’t remember now that I haven’t thought about it, and really I think I was telling you something that I know nothing about, yet have felt every word like the flames of snow from having put ones puns in the oven too long. 🙂

        Just a side note: I had this dream we were sitting across the table from one another and you were eating Doritos while you seemed polite to cover your mouth as you seemed to eat them, you were secretly licking the flavoring off each chip and placing them back in the bag when I wasn’t looking, with an encouraging look on your face and what sounded like you had chips in your mouth when you spoke to offer me some and when I went to put my hand in the bag it felt like I was putting my hand in a bag of unwrapped tamales, because the entire bag of chips was soaking wet, and I looked up and you had this wicked glazed eyed ear to ear grin on your face, then you burst out into laughter… all I could do was shake my head and laugh too because I was so mad… For some reason I could really see you doing things like that. You have that sweet dark side to you that makes a lot of fun to my day, I like your layers. 🙂

        P.S. I hope you had an enjoyable Halloween Party and had a wonderful time dancing, I admire your ability to dance well, wish I had two right feet, lol Great costume too, your color (purple) and so anti- INFP, love the irony, it’s original. Good to see you using so much symbolism with color and form and just truly being more yourself, it’s very refreshing and a lot of fun for me to experience.

        Reply
        • I find it funny that most introverts tend to have certain habits that they do while their brain is on overdrive. When im lost in thought especially when creating an ideal conversation i intend to hold soon i ussually look like im actually talking to someone. The facial expressions especially and it really freaks people out. Im an INTJ by the way

          Reply
  2. Uh, I can relate with what you wrote here so much Michaela… Like yourself, I never had that “sleeping pattern” that people tend to have. Basically, I became a night bird. The night in some way became my refuge, an escape from the daily noise, it became my introvert safe zone. Being an INFJ one thing keeps me up at night often are my thoughts. They just won’t shut down. Of course that’s not always the case, but it happens often. So I read, listen to silent music, or scroll the content of my phone until sleep catches me.
    2am most certainly knows all my secrets, but I kinda like that I embraced the night, since it also has many benefits. 🙂 As you wonderfully mentioned silence, and that realization that everything is peaceful.
    Great article Michaela! 🙂

    P.S When I saw the clown picture I literally jumped out of my chair lol! 😀 Pennywise was one of the reasons of my many sleepless nights when I was younger, and why I cross the street when I see a clown. 😀

    Reply
    • Hey Marko
      i like that you mentioned the INFJ runaway thought train. As and INFJ I get it, it just will not shut down when it’s running full speed down the track. I do like what you said about embracing the night. I learned some years ago, “sweet surrender,” embrace it, make friends with it. I find my mental and emotional states through the day to be much more positive when I embrace it. It is as you said, that safe zone, that INFJ safe harbor, our part of the world is fast asleep, the stillness is wonderful. During the day, you get sleepy, that 15 or 20 minute nap, just finding a quiet spot to close your eyes, it can be most refreshing.
      Love these very real issues you guys address, the fact you in one way or another present alternative solutions during the conversation is great. Like embracing the night instead of fighting it.
      Yep, awesome article Michaela, thanks.

      Reply
    • Why am I not surprised that you can relate? Haha sorry to scare you with the clown!

      Reply
  3. So funny, yes, 0200 and I have been the best of friends for a long, long time. Then there is another friend, 0300. You know, when you finally fall asleep at midnight after being up past 0200 all those nights, then your eyes pop open at 0300. Nope, forget it, don’t even try, just get up. My easel calling my name like some ghost in the middle of the night, or MS-word’s eerie electronic beckoning, that little flashing blue light calling me to some story I’ve been writing. Then there is the journal, the dreaded journal and that muse dancing around in your head since 0100 like some lucid dream. Yep, the clarion call of the stillness of those early morning hours and I are old friends.
    Nope, I don’t even try anymore, just get up and find my way into my studio/office space. Turn the the light over my easel on, then the desk light on and stand there for a moment. Then my conversation, which may seem a little, well, eccentric to some. Looking at the easel, “was it you” then the laptop on my desk, “or was it you.” Then turning my attention to the journal sitting on the side table beside my comfy over sized wing back with the over sized ottoman. You know, the perfect place to dose of at 0230 with that book you couldn’t put down. Nope it wasn’t you, no muse dancing around in my head. Into the kitchen, put the kettle on, a scoop of coffee in the press, warm the half and half, the routine, it is my “normal.” Welcome to my world, and apparently yours and others as well. So nice to be “special.” 🙂 Yep, know the place well.

    Reply
  4. There are times when I’m not able to sleep at all. One thought keeps bothering over the whole night. Can’t talk about it with others. Have to speak either to myself or sometimes to the almighty. This disturbs the next coming days as well. It feels so pathetic that we can’t vent out our emotions to anyone.

    Reply
    • I feel your pain Chetan. I didn’t give any advice in the article, but I do find that the activities I do in the 2 hours before bedtime have a huge impact on how quickly I get to sleep. Putting away electronics and doing things like meditating, journalling, and yoga work wonders. But of course, sometimes books and the internet are just too tempting to resist!

      Reply
  5. I know that feeling! Jaja, every time I’m alredy in bed, a lot of thoughts run through my mind. That’s the time when I start thinking about everything.

    Reply
    • Glad you can relate, Carolina! 🙂

      Reply
  6. I’m glad you brought up this topic. I’m an INFP with extremely vivid and exhausting dreams EVERY night. I rarely seem to get a deep enough slumber to feel well-rested. My thought is this: I’m draining my over-all energy because my dreams are incessantly over social situations. Does anyone have this issue?

    Reply
    • Hmmm … that is a great question. I’ve noticed that my activities during the day definitely affect the nature of my dreams. I do believe that too much stimulation can lead to stressful dreams. Also, dreams are a way for our subconscious to deal with difficult emotions, so anxiety from the day will often show up in dreams.

      Reply
  7. Wow, this really hit home!!! 2am knows ALL of my secrets for sure! It’s so much easier to be peaceful without the worry of anyone interrupting me and my thoughts. I can get in several hours of philosophizing over my problem(s) once everyone else has gone to bed, and that is what I call productive time! Because it’s also easy to do the laundry, dishes, dusting, and cooking while I think! I have started meditating before bed now, so that helps me to fall asleep easier. I really need to sleep as the lack of it was taking a terrible toll on my health.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing that Adrienne. Meditating before bed is a great idea. I find it also leads to more interesting dreams. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Very true Michaela , and sadly it’s never enough time because before you know it, it’s daytime, and yes,sleep deprived, with a headache. lovely piece there.

    Reply
  9. Spot on Michaela, glad it’s not just me

    Reply
    • Thanks Guada, glad you can relate. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Honestly, I don’t have this problem. I have a rather strict routine, and sleep deprivation is not on the menu… Unless my wife and I are getting into some deep emotional stuff.

    Put down the phone. Grab a real book. And when you’ve let it fall in your lap twice, it’s time to sleep!

    Reply
    • Glad you don’t have this problem. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Oh my goodness, yes!!

    I so had this problem for many years. I would lay there my mind flitting from one thing to the next working out problems, replaying conversations, praying for loved ones & simply wandering through my thoughts.

    In the past few years due to medical issues I have meds, I must take a night that put me right to sleep now. Unless of course, I am finishing a really good book.

    Thank you so much for sharing,
    Lisa

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experiences Lisa! 😉

      Reply
  12. It’s me, it’s my son, but it oddly isn’t my husband who is also an introvert. Maybe because he has a senior role and has to be to work for 8:30. I usually read and journal before bed. I do my best writing late at night. Last night I was up until 3:30 which caused me to have insomnia. I have tried to set a deadline of going to my reading corner by 12:30 with lights out at 1:30. It sometimes works.

    Reply
  13. My heart goes out to my fellow night owls, but I’ve just learned to go with it. Catching a nap or two during the daylight hours helps me rejuvinate. Journaling, listening to music, reading, on pinterest, you tube, and cnn all at the same time: is that called multitasking, or a form of insanity? I don’t care, it’s who I am! I embrace my odd behavior now, and feel much more at peace as a result! We are who we are.

    Reply
    • Great to hear that Cindy! Night owls unite (separately)! lol 😉

      Reply
  14. I love the night. The deep personal and random thoughts that roam through my head and come out of my mouth and into my journal is very positive for me. In looking back, I have been a “night owl” before it became more tolerated. I became very harsh with myself until I learned and accepted that I am just wired in a different manner then others around me. I am now blessed with certain people that let me, be me, without judgement. I have found that I only need six hours of sleep, to maintain a reasonable life with my small circle of friends. In a way, I have found my freedom, to dance, sing(badly), read, block out others and to maintain my life, on my terms. So for me there is no “sleep thief” in my home, only relief from the noise and judgements of society.

    Reply
    • Beautifully said Addi! So happy to hear that you’ve embraced your love of the night, and you make it work for you. 🙂

      Reply
      • Mostly don’t have a problem getting to sleep, lights out 8:30, reading till then. Full active days plus probably awake since 2/3 am, consider 4/5 a sleep in.

        Reply
  15. When it happens to me (either not able to fall asleep, or waking up not able to go back) the thing that works best for me is a podcast or an audio book. I’m ashamed to say I don’t read actual books like I used to when I was a teen. On going rambling though distract me, and doesn’t require the light being on.

    Reply
    • No need to be ashamed! Audio books and podcasts are great. I wish I could listen to them more, but for some reason, I need to be doing something at the same time, or I start daydreaming. I guess it all boils down to whether you’re an auditory, visual, or sensory learner. 🙂 xo

      Reply
  16. It’s surprising to learn how many people have trouble sleeping. Some years ago I had proper insomnia which was caused by work stress. For weeks I literally couldn’t get to sleep at all, as I drifted off I would jerk awake again. At the time the only thing that helped was hypnotherapy. Not the sort that would encourage you to do strange things, but just a relaxing voice in the clinic or on the tape, and soothing positive words in your ear.

    Nowadays I can sleep, but wake several times during the night. Part of the problem is my age, as I overheat (that’s enough details, you get the picture), but often I wake up at about 2.00 and start thinking, so am awake for an hour or so. I don’t get up, just lie there thinking and cuddling my soft bear.

    Interestingly, a while ago I was talking to a friend who wakes up early and she had read in a book that it is ‘normal’ to wake during the night. This idea that people should sleep solidly for 8 hours or so was only brought in when the 9-5 working day was introduced. So people have to go to bed around 10.00 or 11.00 and get up in time to get to work for 9.00. Before that people would go to bed earlier in the evening, sleep for a few hours, wake during the night and do something for a couple of hours, and then go back to sleep again for a few more hours.

    I read for a while before going to sleep. Nice kitten by the way! I like kittens!

    Reply
    • Very interesting, Sue. I never considered that sleep patterns were so different in the past, but that makes total sense. When I was working a 9 to 5 I always found it hard to consistently go to bed at the same time. There were too many factors at play to always fall asleep and wake up at the same time! I’m so happy I can follow my own natural rhythms now. 🙂 xo

      Reply
      • Its true cause it’s 2:45 and I’m up. But going to bed now cause my head feels stuffed with cotton and my eyeballs are sore. Good to find a place where otherintroverts and INTJ’s are. But, good god ya’ll talk alot. Too much input. Goodnight. Oh yeah, my name’s Melissa.

        Reply
  17. Hello Michaela! I recognize myself in everything you wrote. Two more things that keep me awake when I should be sleeping are: movies or series and music. I’m a musician and I find that I am the most creative at night when everyone is asleep. My family doesn’t get it and I can’t count the times when my dad wakes up very early in the morning and finds me still working on something. I then hear the same endless blames: “Why are you not sleeping? What are you still doing awake?” etc it really gets on my nerves to hear the same thing over and over.
    Even when I decide not to watch a movie, read a book, browse on my phone or make music, I still cannot sleep earlier than 2-3 AM because my thoughts jump in my head (sometimes I wish there was an on/off button). So, instead of trying to sleep and getting stressed because I can’t sleep, I prefer doing something useful like composing music. I know that people around me will never understand that it’s simply who I am and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That’s just the way I function. It’s great to see there are other people like me and to feel these people understand me. Thank you Michaela!

    Reply
    • Oh yes! That’s a great point, Stephanie. Late at night is when creativity peaks for many of us. I remember my brother, an artist turned web designer, used to stay up very late working on his projects. I sometimes write late at night for the same reasons you expressed. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Reply
  18. Interesting and relevant article. When I read it I could identify with the inability to sleep straight through the night. I honestly can’t remember an uninterrupted nights sleep for a great many years now.
    As an ISTJ I feel for me that one of the blessing/curses of my type of personality is the great reliance on making sense of facts that present themselves. When something doesn’t make sense to me I work it through (or at least try to) at random times during the night. I can often fall asleep quickly and effortlessly… I have however, come to terms with the fact that staying asleep is not achievable for me. I’ve adjusted as I have a demanding career and need to operate at a high level every day. How I’ve adjusted is by going to bed earlier to account for those long hours of restless contemplation and during these times trying on various scenarios to help my brain accept a potential possibility. I’ve also compensated by waking up earlier and giving myself at least a couple hours of early morning silence and solitude to prepare for the day ahead.
    Many of the comments above seem to include dreams. I don’t seem to dream very often at all. My 2:00 am is awake, aware and 100% conscious. I’m sure I dream but they seldom seem to burn in to my conscious memory.
    Thanks for the relatable post as always Michaela!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with this Kevin. Great to hear the ISTJ perspective! Interesting that you don’t dream (or don’t remember them). I wonder if different personality types have different dream experiences.

      Reply
  19. I am an INFJ but never have this problem. Following a winding down routine including some light reading before bedtime, I am asleep within a minute or two. My favorite time of the day comes at 4:30 AM when my wife, my dog, and the rest of the world is fast asleep. I am refreshed, my mind is clear and I have ninety minutes to myself to explore my thoughts, feelings and whatever fantasy I choose to pursue. It is a time for meditation and introspection. At 6, I talk my dog for a walk and then head to the swimming pool to get my body moving.

    Reply
    • Wonderful to hear! It sounds like you’re making the most of the morning solitude! Maybe 4:30 am knows all your secrets then?

      Reply
  20. I read until I fall asleep after I have been reading articles on the Internet and visited Facebook in between. I check the pantry and fridge for snacks I know I won’t find and then settle for whatever will take less than 30 seconds to prepare. I drink tea, soda and water and then I need to go to the bathroom and then decide what I’ll wear the next day. I’ll check on my daughter who’s 18 to see if she breathing. With all this going on I’ll read my book and check Facebook. My eyes will eventually close and I’ll wake up in the morning with my bedside lamp still on and my spectacles on my face. I have four different alarms: wake up; prayer time; get up; let’s go. I snooze all of them.

    Reply
    • Haha thanks for sharing that Abigail. I could relate to a lot of it. Late night snacking is the worst (and best ;)).

      Reply
  21. I have a chronic pain disorder:TMJD. 2am is when I convince myself that the pain is something sinister and I’m going to die 😉. The only way to put away the demons is to say “so what if I do…” then dose myself with codeine and diphenhydramine and drift off into some weird lucid dreaming. I also have to put my phone into airplane mode otherwise I’ll be surfing through the night haha. Happy Halloween and sleep tight all.

    Reply
    • Oh that sounds terrible! I’m sorry to hear that it something so painful keeping you up at nigh. 🙁
      Happy Halloween to you too. xo

      Reply
      • Actually the pain has been a positive thing. Stopped me trying to project ENTJ when I’m really happier as INFJ… And here we are at 28 minutes to 2am. Time for airplane mode 😴

        Reply
  22. I must be fortunate not to have all these problems, but I do try to make the bedroom kind of a deprivation chamber; no phone, no books, no bright lights or loud sounds. The only thing that really messes me up is the clock! I can’t tell you the number of times I awoke in a dreamy state and the illogical part of my brain has convinced me that I’ve overslept and every clock in the house was wrong! :-O After a couple minutes logic resumes and I realize I’ve been duped yet again, darn it! There are certainly times that something is bothering me and I can’t rest until I have sorted it out to some degree. Once in a great while it can’t be sorted out, so then little sleep unfortunately. Most of the time I’m fine, though. I do have a really boring book in the next room that I will start reading to help derail whatever thought might be keeping me from sleeping. Sometimes that works. Good article Michaela.

    Reply
  23. Of all places for there to be a Clown Sighting, I never would have guessed it would be in our lovely Michaela’s blog post. But no worries, because the photo she sent in the corresponding email featuring her version of the Resting Bitch Face is worth suffering through the clown, kitty and puppy pics.

    Yes, Michaela, as a card-carrying introvert, I love the peaceful quiet of the early AM. And since I also love to read stuff, I also have to deal with 2AM sleep thief. Unless my girlfriend is sleeping over, of course. Anyway, cheers to you. Keep it simple. And get some sleep.

    Reply
    • Aww thanks James! I hope the clown didn’t scare you too much lol!

      Reply
      • Not too much, Michaela. I admit, your email promise of a kinda creepy but relevant pic was too much to resist. Sure, I was expecting more Michaela “Resting Witch Face” pics. So yeah, seeing Bozo’s evil cousin pop up instead was definitely creepy. Rock on, Michaela!

        Reply
  24. I have a love hate relationship with sleep. It’s hard to fall asleep (internal chatter) even when I’m tired. Other times I’m not tired just want to read or watch a good show, then I get hooked and end up awake past 3 or 4 saying to myself why are you doing this? It’s so late, it feels kinda naughty to be up late which adds to the fun. Love the quiet, dark, and the night sky is beautiful. Great time to write about your day at its end. Once I’m asleep, I stay asleep and I have such a hard time getting up in the morning.

    Reply
  25. I love this! I really don’t sleep and I have two small children. I need the late night hours alone just to hear myself think. Sleep is secondary and coffee is my friend. I’m so grateful to have found this group. I have been so hard on myself lately for “feeling” too much, but now I realize it’s a gift and a special gift. I will work with it to be the very best that I can be. Interestingly enough, I took the assessment twice because I didn’t want to believe that I was an INFJ, but it came up that way both times.

    As far as sleep, I take a “disco nap” at 7pm, then am awake usually between 11am and 5am. That’s when I do my best work and I have the house to myself!

    Reply
  26. What keeps me up at night either I’m binging on some newly discovered series or I’m getting into the deep things of Why. I must say that you are too funny I just listened to your new book ‘The irresistible Introvert’ I thought I could get away with just listening but it has become a must read. I loved your sense of humor and your insight. I didn’t know you had such a potty mouth. 😎

    Reply
  27. Hi. 😊 2am knows all my secrets too.

    Thank you so much . ☺

    Reply
  28. I don’t think I know what sleep is any more. Like seriously, I have no clue how to just drift off anymore. At least I have more time to build stuff. I feel like my sleeping pattern had a large part in developing my personality. I’m just like, not, sleepy, I think…

    Reply

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