Thinking too much may keep introverts up at night!


Our introvert brains are so active, aren’t they, processing things, mulling over them, daydreaming…sometimes our thoughts seem to take on a life of their own and keep us awake! Some introverts find it hard to drop off to sleep in the first place because of all the thoughts racing through our brains, or others sleep for a while then wake up in the wee hours and find ourselves actively thinking of one thing after another, until we realize we are fully awake and have been for some time. The latter is usually what happens to me. I’m usually sleepy enough to drop off to sleep, if I’m at home, but then I may wake at 2 or 3 am with a busy brain that is really working on whatever situations I currently have – even some my conscious mind may have tried to ignore. I got a question from someone this week about this tendency that a lot of us have. The reader wondered how I handle it when I can’t sleep due to thinking too much during the night.

What I’ve done, and I’ve done it for about 20 years now, is to daydream about something pleasant but totally not to do with real life. In other words, if I wake up at 2 am, first if my mind has uncovered something that needs to be addressed later, I will tell myself I will look into that tomorrow. It is “duly noted” by my conscious mind now, but I can’t fix it in the middle of the night so I am going back to sleep. I’ll get into a really comfortable position and deliberately start a daydream about a situation that can not happen. If I were to start daydreaming about a pleasant time with a family member or real friend, next thing you know my mind would start thinking again – “Oh I need to make him a dentist appointment,” or “Why did she say that to me last week?” So instead, I’ll pick an actor or an author or some other person that I could imagine I would enjoy a cup of coffee with, and in my daydream we will have a cup of coffee. I ask them a question, I listen to their answer. This is usually a quick success for me – I never make it past the first little bit of this before I’m asleep again. Other times I might be reading a really good book that week that I hate to put down, so I will think about it a little bit if I wake up in the night. My main point here is to dive deeply into fiction, whether you create it or you think about a book or movie you like. Do not think about world events, your checkbook, or even the sweetest real moment in your life, because your introvert brain will jump right on that and before you know it your body will start really waking up. 🙂

One thing I must admit is that lately when someone has requested something of me that makes me feel as if they’re taking advantage of me, I wake up and apparently my adrenaline really gets going, because no amount of daydreaming will get me back to sleep. Otherwise, try to derail those active thoughts by doing something we do so well: daydreaming! That’s my favorite way to get back to sleep. Do you have another one to share?

Photo credit: Sister72



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  2. My sleeping disorder(s) is/are far from fun.
    I have issues falling asleep, but when I do fall asleep I sleep like a bear.
    What has helped me is melatonin. At the moment I can’t get my hands on vegan melatonin, so I’m having real issues with sleep at the moment.
    I’ve tried valerian root, but it’s not working anymore. Took 4g for a few nights ago, had no effect on me.

    So, in other words, I can only advice on melatonin. Other than that, I’m looking for suggestions myself. I will do try your suggestion tho, but I’m afraid my mind will wander too much.
    Reading a book helps also.

    Sorry for rambling, just got back from work and I’m dead tired. 🙂

    • Hi Xen. I appreciate your comment! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a problem getting to sleep. Has this problem just started recently?

      Yes – I also have good results with reading a book. I did that pretty often a few years ago when I woke up in the wee hours once in a while. I’d turn my lamp on and read until I was drowsy, then I’d be asleep as soon as I could get the book back on the table and turn off the lamp. I always hate turning on the lamp when I’m already comfortable in the dark in my bed, so I try to drop off again just by diverting my thoughts, but the book really does do the trick. Thanks again for commenting, and I hope you will sleep well tonight! 🙂

      • I’ve had problems with sleep for years, but so far no doctor has really bothered paying too much attention to it. I guess I’ll hope my new doctor will hopefully understand that something needs to be done.

        I’ll try out your technique tonight and see how it goes.
        You have a nice sleep too. 🙂

  3. I find what you said has been quite accurate: when you dive deeper in the real life events, at times it’ll worsen the sleepless condition. For example, last night it was about 2am I turned in, couldn’t sleep even though my body was exhausted. My mind was still twirling with real life matters, incidents… no help at all. I had to tell myself to be calm, then I started to pray instead which finally I fall asleep before I knew it. I may try the imaginary part next time if I ever had such condition again — think about something pleasant but not too much. ^^

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    • You know, prayer is a fine idea. I’ve done that too. Start thinking of the things you’re thankful for – unless that ends up having you go off into thinking about *real life* again, etc. 🙂 It always makes me so mad at myself if I find I’ve been lying in my bed with my thoughts whirling for quite a while and just was so tired I didn’t notice how long it had gone on.

  4. All fine suggestions! I’d love to try them sometime. Just a curious question: do any of the thoughts that keep you up in the form of nightmares? That’s the case with me. Depending on what kind of thought it is, my body feels stressed and sometimes, it’s as though I cannot move. It’s kind of hard to explain.

    The method I use is simple: I just let my brain work until it wears itself out. If it wants me to read or think about my life, I do it until I can’t do it anymore. It’s lame, but it’s better than nothing I suppose…

    • Oh Miyuki I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment before. No, I haven’t had the nightmares – it’s more that when I wake up naturally during the night, some situation from real life will land in my thoughts with a clarity that can make it really hard to go back to sleep.

      Not lame at all! We all have things we’ve found that work to get us back to sleep. Sometimes they’ll work for a long time then we go to something else later.

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  6. You have to clear up your mind first so that you will have a deep sleep. Reading books, watching TV or have some exercise will surely lead you to a rest in peace while sleeping.
    It’s better not to bring stress on works at home. Forget everything when you are going to sleep in order to avoid problems.

  7. Thanks for posting. That’s a great suggestion/technique. I do something really similar when I’m having a tough time sleeping. I like to count down from ten and with each number focus on becoming more calm and relaxed. Works wonders for me.
    Great article. Thanks again for posting

  8. Sadly I see there is no magical answer for the question, so why not tag along and give my experience

    I am used to thinking a bunch, its the way I’ve developed my philosophy (getting to know myself, who I want to be based on what I think is important and what I expect from life, understanding social interactions, creating my personal rulebook of morals I follow, etc..).

    When I was younger, say around 12, something that worked ok (because I also had a bunch of paranoia’s at that age) was to open my eyes slightly, and fixate something, it would become exhausting in a matter of minutes, and then I would close my eyes and fall asleep. But I think I slept with my light on, so I don’t know what that would give in the dark.

    Then I would read of course, during high school and college, always had some dull material to read which would just knock me out. You read until your eyes are swore and you end up re reading the same page for about 5minutes, then I’d just drop the book.

    Honestly, my favorite method that I did for about 2 years (half of the time on unemployment) which hasn’t been mentioned (and which has been my father’s technique for the past 30 years) is drinking and smoking (pot that is). I never slept as well after an evening out, drinking and smoking, playing some music, getting home at around 1 am, falling in bed, and you literally can’t think. It’s amazing, you can try all you want, but you can’t (then again you couldn’t think the rest of the evening, I do believe that is why I enjoyed the time out from thinking). I would not get the same effect only smoking or only drinking. Drinking would also give me wild dreams which I loved, and I was lucky to never been afflicted with hangovers (but for sure, I had diarrhea every morning). Of course, this is NOT the way to go. Or you end up like my dad who needs 4 espressos in the morning to wake up and 2 bottles of wine in the evening to go to sleep. But I just wanted to point out, it is very affective, and I have heard that drinking a small dose of alcohol 30min before going to bed will help.

    Currently, I am incredibly lucky, and I am with someone I love dearly and I don’t care how long I stay up. Either we are stuck together and I am great full for the felling which I hope would never last. Or if we are on either side of the bed I just think of how lucky I am. But the fact is, I don’t know if I am awake 30min, 1h, 2h, I know I fall asleep before here every night but I enjoy every minute I am awake. I hope this will be a permanent solution for me and that other people may find the same.

    • haha, sorry about this, was just about to close the window and I realized at the end I wrote ” I hope would never last” when of course I meant “never end” 😉

    • Right now, the alone time doesn’t ecxlude the baby. He is holding him now and I am blogging in the other room. I guess it is a good way to keep up on posts! I like the idea of getting out. I wish I had more friends in the neighborhood.

  9. Lane Christopher Green on

    my sleeping patterns have been haywire since i was a child almost as if my mind was telling me to stay awake make my muscles work out to their potential, which in turn made me feel like an insomniac which isnt true. i just have a lot of energy raging through me do too transcendental thought. which has enabled me to without any substance whether recreational or other drugs to make me go to sleep which in turn helps me understand and to use my strength to build up the endurance of all my weaknesses. hope this helps anyone and everyone. we all have the intelligence to be something we are told we are but its just whether or not we believe what they are saying. and first we must all clear our mind and embrace the darkness that which is the spawn of all fear.

  10. Hey Friends,

    I’m a long time sufferer of Insomnia and I found out that Anxiety is one of the contributors to my insomnia.
    I have this resolution I implemented and helped me a lot with my anxiety.
    I write all the things that I have in mind before sleeping.

    • Im going to start that again.. Im 33.. haven’t wrote for a while. I pray at night especially to fall asleep..but that gives me more energy sometimes or makes me emotional so I get the sniffles, then I can’t sleep for that reason.
      Thanks for the journal idea.. I just found my first journal from high school I shared with a friend.. I read it thinking I might fall asleep to it… No chance… Too funny! Many memories to think of so it was a long night. Thx again????

  11. My trick is to clear my mind i.e. force myself not to think about anything, and then just listen to my own breathing. When I try to daydream my mind always always drifts off and I end up staying awake for hours.

  12. Just Another INTJ on

    I’ve been suffering from bad sleep for ages. I can remember being 5 and watching the hours on the clock go by because I couldn’t fall asleep. At the time I was thinking what would happen if Mighty Mouse was real? I was five after all. 🙂

    I have a mind that doesn’t stop, ever. It’s an ever-present stream of thought, simulations and analyzing outcomes. Which in of itself can be draining. Generally when I’m engaged in a task then the stream of thought is task focused and helps me very well in my current line of work but not when I want to sleep.

    That never-ending stream of thought continues and prevents me from sleeping. It’s very stressful trying to fall asleep, seeing the clock read 3am and having to be up at 7am. I can recall times where I was lucky to get a good nights sleep 2x a week. The other side effect of the lack of sleep was I would get migraines. At the time, it was a vicious cycle. All doctors wanted to do was put me on mood altering drugs “to help me sleep” and I thought that was a bunch of bullshit.

    After 30 something years I have figured out a method that helps me fall asleep.

    1) Absolute darkness and quiet. I find I tend to focus on noises or lights because my brain is trying o figure out what it is. I use a fan to make a constant noise so my brain has nothing to focus on and in the event that’s not good enough then I have ear plugs that lower sound by 20db. Though I can still hear my alarm.

    2) I smoke pot before I go to bed. I’m not condoning the usage by any means of an “illicit” drug. I never experimented with drugs as a teenager and I didn’t even try pot or alcohol till I was 20. I was never really interested in it because I saw what it did to people in high school. Pot slows the stream of thought way way down for me. It also tends to give me happier thoughts versus the stressful life/work thoughts I normally have. Make it much easier to drift off as it were.

    3) I found an employer who was willing to be flexible with work hours. My job can be done from anywhere with an Internet connection, so who needs to be in bright an early 7am? Now I show up around 10am and stay as a late as I need to get things done. It takes the stress out of having to fall asleep right away. Even if I fall asleep at 3am, which is normal, I’ll get 6 hours of quality sleep and be at work on time.

  13. I have really bad problems going to sleep I get in bed around 12 or 1 am every night. I lay her looking at the roof above my bed because I can’t quit thinking. So even thought I get in bed at 12 or 1 I never go to sleep until 4 or 5 am and I have to be up at 7:50am every day. Ive tried all of the ideas y’all have posted above but my mind stays going and just want turn off it goes straight back to thinking of inventions. I have came up with so many ideas for new inventions in the past few years. Some I remember other are gone when I wake up. But once I finally pass out I sleep super deep. Like nothing wakes me up I bought 6 alarm clocks at one point and turned them on to all go off at the same time and still it doesn’t wake me up. The only way I get up is when my girl friend hits me as hard as she can a few times. Even then I usually dose back off or talk in my sleep to her. It was so bad when I was younger that my older brother got so pissed at me after he yelled hit me and sprayed me with water and I didn’t wake up that he stuck a tazor to me just to get me to wake up. I don’t have a clue what’s wrong with me and don’t know if I should go to a sleep doctor about it or not. I’m never tired after getting only two- three hours of sleep when I wake up just can’t get to sleep and sucks having to have someone wake you up very morning.

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