Each of the eight introverted Myers-Briggs personality types sees the world a little differently, but we all have one thing in common: Late at night, when the house is quiet, our minds drift to deeper concerns — the kind that can keep us wide awake.
So what stops each type from sleeping, and do they love it or hate it? Every individual is different, but here’s what we think might keep each introverted personality awake in the middle of the night.
What Keeps Each Introverted Personality Type Awake
Something might be wrong…
It could be your roommate, who went out to party and still hasn’t come home. It could be your college-aged child, off on their first-ever trip overseas. Or it could be your new significant other, who said they’d call but didn’t.
The point is, you worry.
And it drives you nuts that no one else takes it seriously. Sure, you know it’s unlikely that anything went wrong. Things are probably fine. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Especially when it comes to the people you love.
If it were just you, of course, you’d make things safe(ish) by planning — and you’d probably still be up half the night running through your checklist in your mind. But others seem comfortable just winging it. The semester-abroad program that didn’t mention any of the travel advisories on the government’s website — not even the one about diphtheria! Or the roommate who texted once, as promised, around 10 p.m. but not since then, despite being gone hours later than planned.
Of course, when they do come home, you won’t be angry — not outwardly. The most important thing is to make them feel loved.
When the alarm clock rings, you get up; end of story.
Sure, you could have booked a flight for tomorrow, but it’s only a 6-hour drive, and it would take just as long to deal with the airport — and cost ten times as much. Getting up early for a road trip is much simpler. Besides, the open road is fun, and you can even make a pit stop at a historic site along the way.
Strictly speaking, you didn’t have to get up at 3 a.m., but how else would you arrive at your destination without wasting a whole day? You’ve got it perfectly planned: oil has been changed, gas filled up, all fluids and tire pressure checked, and a set of sandwiches and sodas packed in a cooler bag ready to grab. You’ll be most of the way to your destination when it’s time to stop for breakfast.
No one could have wrung more vacation time out of a single road trip than you. That makes it more than worth getting up early. The only downside? Trying to get everyone else up on time and to follow the plan. FML.
I’m making… something.
Technically, you’re not supposed to be working in your little shop in the garage/basement/shed/kitchen table you totally took over this late at night; it keeps people awake. But you stopped doing the noisy stuff at 10 p.m. (maybe 10:30… okay, 11!). The truth is, it’s nice being here alone so late at night. Everything is quiet and no one is chattering at you about “we need to clean up” or “you said you would get this done.” Jeez, it’ll get done, but when the time is right — meaning, when you find a way to make it interesting.
The other great thing about nighttime tinkering is that no one’s there to ask about the plan. I mean, look, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to do with the eight broken electric fans you got. You figure the blades alone will be useful at some point — could you make them into mini power-generating windmills? No reason why not! Heck, some of the motors might still be good. Or could be put together to be good.
The same thing applies to about half the stuff on your work bench (er, the dining room table) and piled up in the closet and hallway. You know it will come together somehow, you’re just not exactly sure into what… or when.
For now, you’ve found that tuning that old guitar is quiet enough that it doesn’t wake anyone, and it’s a fun challenge to learn to play it with only three strings.
The feelings don’t turn off just because it’s bedtime.
“Normal” is never something that interested you. You might be quiet, but you stand out — in how you dress, how you do your hair, and especially, how you live your life. That means when things aren’t great, you don’t have the luxury of saying, “That’s just how it goes.” You made this path, and if it’s not working, you see it as a judgement on you.
And when that happens, it keeps you up all night — sometimes for days.
The worst is when you get disapproval; when you work so, so hard artistically on something, either at work or for friends, and it turns out that no one really likes it. It’s like you poured a bit of yourself into it and your soul was found lacking.
That’s what’s got you up tonight, swimming in self-doubt and questions about who you are and whether you made a mistake in choosing the life you lead. Deep down, you know you’ll find your way again; your feelings are like a compass that always points north eventually. But right now the needle is spinning, and you’re working through the difficult emotions late at night with a bunch of your favorite albums.
“Just one more page,” 300 pages later.
You told yourself you’d only read one chapter, and what’s more, you actually believed it (you’re one of the few people you know who never, ever lies to themselves). But, in retrospect, you probably should have known you’d get hooked and follow the adventures of the Six of Crows through another chapter… and another… mayyyyybe the whole book…
You were actually surprised when you realized you reached the last page, and even more surprised it was already 1 a.m. You did stop yourself from immediately starting the sequel (mostly because you don’t have it yet), but you figured, as long as you’re not getting a good night’s sleep anyway, you might as well keep going down the rabbit-hole, right?
And that’s how you ended up creating a Grisha fan-fic site at 3 in the morning, complete with your very own first spin-off story and some original character artwork you drew. Shoot, wait, tomorrow’s Monday? Are you sure?
It’s not technically “binging.”
People say Youtube, Wikipedia, and Reddit are addictive. You know that’s not accurate, even though they are designed to trigger dopamine hits and reward repeated use. But tonight, same difference either way: You needed to do that research, and if you got sidetracked and went down a few extra rabbit holes, well, that just gives you even more ideas to draw on.
Because here’s the thing: You’re on the verge. You can feel your next big idea brewing inside you, the way a sailor senses a storm from a change in the wind. And, although there might be simpler ways to do some of what you’re picturing, you also know somewhere out there is the perfect way. A way that no one else has ever thought of — and that will completely change things.
It doesn’t bother you that your last big idea is still only partly finished; there’s a good reason why you switched gears (several times). This is what interests you now, and it might even help you finish the last one.
You open another academic paper with the login you borrowed from a friend, and skip straight to the data table. Nah, not useful. Interesting what they say in the footnotes though…
Why are people like this?
You took a warm shower. You had tea. You sat with your cat and made sure he was settled and happy before you read a chapter of your latest favorite book. It’s everything you know you need to do when you’re feeling tense.
But it didn’t work. Sure, you turned out the light and closed your eyes, but that just brought the silence your brain needed to wander back to what you did.
You’re a hard worker, and you want to do things right — nay, perfect! That’s why it was so embarrassing when your boss mentioned your mistake in front of people, during a meeting. It was just a little thing — already fixed — but everyone saw that you got emotional. Why couldn’t he have spared your pain and spoken to you in private?
And that’s why, tonight, your mind is a swirl of emotions: some are yours, some were absorbed from your coworkers, and you can’t get any of them to settle down. All you really know is, you’re not going to make that silly mistake again. Why does the human brain work like this? How can a species that’s survived for 200,000 years be inherently fallible?
Actually, that gives you a great idea for an essay. You grab your journal and start to write.
Finally, I can hear myself think.
Some nights it’s reading. More often, it’s working on a project — the kind that doesn’t fit in at work, but that you know you can pull off on your own. And if you do, it will pay off BIG — as long as you do it right.
But the truth is, it’s comforting being up at an hour when no one else is. You have plenty of regimens in your life: Maybe the nutrients you take in, how you structure your day, even the way you optimized your wardrobe to project a flawless image with minimum effort. Things are, mostly, under control.
But deep down, you know it’s the unstructured time where you do your best work — the long hours without interruption that allow a state of flow to take over. In many ways, that’s whyyou’re so structured everywhere else: to hedge off all the prosaic demands in life and create space for that deep focus.