A friend was telling me about a study in which a small group of introverts need 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night in order to perform at their peak. Immediately, I recognized myself as belonging to this small group. I’ve often wondered why it is that any night I get any less than 9 hours of sleep I feel groggy, slow, and like I just want to go back to bed. Turns out that this is an actual condition.
What is it about introverts that requires us to need more sleep? I don’t know much about it, but I’ve read, or heard, somewhere (perhaps from the same friend, who’s fascinated with personality types), that introverts are drained by being around people – in contrast to extroverts, who actually gain energy from being around people. So if an introvert, for example, has a job in which he is constantly performing for, with, and around people, it might make sense for him to need more sleep than a non-introvert.
For the more extreme introverts, 9 to 12 hours may not even be sufficient. If an introvert falling into this rare category finds himself needing more sleep to recover from an added energy-drain, she may be looking at, say, 13 to 17 hours of sleep, in order to bounce back.
Of course, this is all speculation. Introverts and extroverts all have their quirks – and every person is different, after all. An introvert reading this might feel relief that there are others like him. I know I did. Luckily, I’m in a position to where if I want to sleep all day, there’s really nothing stopping me. But what about those who aren’t so lucky?
I’m not suggesting that introverts should start their own Sleep Revolution and sleep all day, getting up only to go to work (not saying that hasn’t worked for me before). But our relationship with sleep is an important one – no matter the personality type – and couldn’t be more undermined by today’s social and cultural expectations.