“For years now, I've wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Depending on your view, sleep can be a refreshing gift from the gods, a curse that gets in the way of life or something between. Martha Stewart and Donald Trump famously get four or fewer hours sleep a night. Are they moguls because they don’t sleep... or don’t they sleep because they are moguls?
Most people who research and know about such things agree the average person needs about seven to nine hours of sleep to function well. There are a lot of stories in the media about how we, as a society, do not get enough sleep. They often credit this to our relentless electronic connection to the rest of the world and the spread of glowing screens all around us. There is much talk about the blue light the screens casts off and how that stimulates us when we should be winding down.
The Good News by Roles
However, we have good news to offer from a recent poll. We asked people to affirm or deny the statement: “You sleep well most nights.” Of the four groups defined by their core traits, no group fell below 60% with those who affirmed the statement, with Sentinels scoring 72.23%, Explorers 67.69%, Diplomats 62.75% and Analysts 60.12%. That means that at least a simple majority in all groups could report sleeping well. So, perhaps the media can calm down a bit on the sleep concerns. While this study confirms that a percentage have sleep problems, it’s certainly not everybody.
Interestingly, in another study which is yet to be published, we discovered that Sentinels were also more likely to support “You are an early riser” over the other groups by at least 16%. Not only do they rise early, but they also feel they sleep well. This speaks to the conscientious nature of Sentinels who we know for their good habits. They are likely to practice good sleep hygiene to be able to give their best. They would consider doing so their duty.
Another study shows us that Analysts and Diplomats are more likely to state they are “more productive in the evening than in the morning” than the other two groups. These Intuitive groups may have some trouble turning off their active minds whereas the Observant Sentinels and Explorers may be able to leave their more tangible worlds outside.
To illustrate this dynamic, an Introverted Diplomat described keeping the TV on when he goes to bed to distract himself from his own thoughts. He chooses what he considers trite programming on TV when he goes to bed such as old sitcoms. This distraction lets him mute the interesting things going on in his head enough to allow sleep which would otherwise elude him.
Of the specific types, the Assertive Consul (ESFJ-A) reports getting the soundest sleep with 80.38% of them supporting the statement. The Turbulent Logician (INTP-T) is the least likely to report a good night’s rest most of the time with only 45.27% of them saying they did.
Traits and Sleep
While most of our respondents claim that they sleep well, that still means that at least 28% and as much as 40% of each group could not affirm the statement. The traits that make one less likely to affirm sleeping well are Introversion (59.56% to Extraversion 71.13%), Intuition (61.94% to Observant 70.71%), Prospecting (61.77% to Judging 69.45%), and Turbulent (57.90% to Assertive 76.00%).
Introverts prefer their own company or that of a small band of friends – with much of their focus on their inner lives. Intuitive types live a lot within their minds and their imaginations. Emotions, which usually first express themselves internally, buffet about the people with the Turbulent trait. While it’s purely speculation, it’s reasonable to assume that those with the Extraversion, Observant and Assertive traits can leave the concrete world that they deal with so much outside their bedrooms. This may not be as easy for people with Introverted, Intuitive, and Turbulent traits to do. They carry their busy internal worlds, entrenched solidly in their minds, to bed with them like the Diplomat example above. Perhaps this accounts for the difference between the groups and types in claiming a good night’s sleep.
One more pair of traits is important to this discussion. Judging predicts sleeping well a bit more than Prospecting. People who prospect are more flexible and open to whatever comes their way. We can assume that this also applies to how they sleep. There may be some anticipations and some welcomed distractions inhibiting slumber. Those with the more orderly and predictable Judging trait are more likely to practice good sleep hygiene than those with the Prospecting trait.
Finally, the Assertive trait predicts good sleep significantly more than the Turbulent trait. Turbulent personality types are more likely to deal with anxiety and worrying. This inhibits both falling asleep and staying asleep, and could account for at least some of the 18% difference between the two. As Strategies go, those who prefer People Mastery (78.16%) and Confident Individualism (72.21) were more likely to say they slept better than both the Social Engagement (63.33%) and Constant Improvement (53.65%). The difference between the first pair and the second is the presence of the Assertive trait and the Turbulent trait, respectively.
Whatever you think of sleep, being able to do it well has its benefits. A well-rested body and mind goes a long way in a typical day. Perhaps one of the applications of this study is that those who can escape the world between the sheets sleep better than those who bring it with them. Reading fiction, meditating, even a good movie before bed might provide just the right buffer between the day and the night. Setting up good sleep habits that includes winding down and walking away from the day could provide that extra bit of sleep that can be so helpful.
But then again, neither Donald nor Martha seems to be complaining, and they seem to be doing alright. There’s no need to feel obligated to put artificial constraints on yourself if what you are doing is working for you.
How are your sleep habits? Do they match your personality? Comments are not only welcomed but encouraged.