Sleep is important.
It determines the times of day you can be most productive.
You can even use sleep to recover lost memories that had previously been forgotten.
But did you know that patterns of sleep and wakefulness can reveal important aspects of your personality? A group of researchers recently analyzed data from more than 16,000 people to uncover the hidden links between personality and sleep.
Patterns of sleep and wakefulness
Are you an “early bird” or more of a “night owl”?
This type of distinction isn’t really as useful as you might think. In fact, attempting to divide people up into “types” almost never works out.
It makes more sense to think along dimensions:
- Morningness: How awake and energized do you feel early in the day?
- Eveningness: How awake and energized do you feel late in the day?
- Morningness-Eveningness: To what extent do you feel more awake and energized earlier in the day, than you do later in the day?
The relative comparison between morningness and eveningness can probably tell us interesting things about your personality.
But what if we look at the two dimensions separately?
Perhaps how awake and energized you feel early in the day has different implications for personality than how you feel later in the day. (Spoiler alert: it does.)
What sleep reveals about personality
Overall, personality explains about 10-15% of the variation in patterns of sleep and wakefulness.
These patterns provide unique insights into personality, but of course they are just one of the many factors that make each person unique.
The strongest trend is conscientiousness—how efficient and well-organized a person is.
- People who feel more awake and energized early in the day tend to be more conscientious.
- People who feel more awake and energized later in the day tend to be less conscientious.
The second-strongest trend is extraversion—how outgoing and social a person is.
- People who feel more awake and energized later in the day tend to be more extraverted.
- Extraversion has no relationship with how awake and alert people feel in the morning.
3. Openness to experience
The third-strongest trend is openness—how curious and imaginative a person is.
- People who feel more awake and energized later in the day tend to be more open.
- Openness has no relationship with how awake and alert people feel in the morning.
The fourth-strongest trend is neuroticism—how prone to experiencing fear and anxiety a person is.
- People who feel more awake and energized early in the day are less neurotic.
- Neuroticism has no relationship with how awake and alert people feel later in the day.
Agreeableness—the tendency to be kind and considerate to others—has no relationship with patterns of sleep and wakefulness.
Have you tried sleeping in a cozy hotel room? Their beddings are so soft and very comfortable, so why would you not try one of the best hotel grade pillows? So that we will be able to have a good night rest and sleep.
Implications for performance
As if that wasn’t interesting enough, the researchers were also able to track some people’s academic performance.
Even after considering the well-established overlaps between personality and performance, patterns of sleep and wakefulness were still able to provide a little bit of extra predictive power.
More research will be needed before we understand exactly how and why this works.