While introverts may be known as “quiet ones,” they know how loud their minds can be, which can cause them to not fall asleep right away.
Imagine this: It’s been a long day full of interactions and small talk (ugh). Finally, the time comes when you can escape to your bedroom (your haven), turn off the lights, and slip into a peaceful slumber.
The only problem? You’re an anxious introvert. So, rather than drifting off to sleep, your mind is buzzing, replaying every social interaction you’ve ever had since the dawn of time (ugh again).
Trust me, fellow anxious introverts, I know that feeling of wanting nothing more than to fall into a deep sleep all too well. It’s more than frustrating — it’s unhealthy. Sleep is crucial for keeping our heart, blood vessels, blood sugar, memory, and stress levels regulated. For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least seven hours of sleep a night.
So after far too many anxiety-filled, restless nights, I’ve found a few tips and tricks to beat those nighttime scaries and help my entire body feel relaxed. And, spoiler alert, my solutions do not involve counting sheep.
5 Things That Help Me Fall Asleep as an Anxious Introvert
1. White noise: Low-stimulus sounds can help soothe sensitive minds.
There are three things I can’t live without — friends, family, and my white noise machine. While introverts may be known as “quiet ones,” we know how loud our minds can be. When you add a lil’ bit of late-night anxiety to the mix, well, let’s just say it’s not exactly sweet dreams. While some people may rely on the TV or music to help silence nighttime racing thoughts, I find them too stimulating for my sensitive mind. White noise, on the other hand, isn’t too quiet or too loud — it’s just right.
By definition, white noise combines different frequencies — HowStuffWorks states that it can be as many as 20,000 tones — to produce a light, calming sound. It’s not words or even anything your ears might recognize, it’s simply low-stimulus background noise. And, for an anxious introvert like myself, it provides a feeling of serendipity. After a few minutes of listening to the simple tones, I can feel my mind relax, allowing my body to drift into a relaxing slumber.
2. Essential oils: Calming aromas ease nighttime anxiety.
When it’s time to hit the hay and I’ve got way too much on my mind, a few soothing smells can go a long way. Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses essential oils to promote well-being. The practice dates back to 3500 BC when priests in Egypt smudged scented plant materials for ceremonies and religious offerings.
Fast-forward to today, and anxious introverts are adding aromatic oils to their wrists, baths, spritzers, cold compresses, lotions, and diffusers, you name it. Aromatherapy can improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety, and alleviate headaches, and different oils are known to serve specific purposes. Some of my personal faves — which include some of the best oils for falling asleep — are:
- Lavender. The sweet floral notes take my mind to a more peaceful place (like a wild garden in the middle of spring) and help me forget about the day’s stress.
- Peppermint. Cooling and refreshing to smell, peppermint helps me clear my mind and alleviate stress-induced headaches.
- Cedarwood. Known for clearing negativity and detoxifying the mind, cedarwood has sedative qualities that allow me to tune out racing thoughts.
- Citrus. Lemon, orange, and grapefruit oils are light and airy, which make me feel cool-headed and calm.
Whether you have a diffuser or just want to take a couple of whiffs of the oils before climbing into bed, adding aromatherapy to your nightly routine should help quiet your noisy mind and drift away into a serene slumber.
3. Coloring: Distracting the mind before bed is key.
Why did we decide we don’t need coloring time as adults? Well, until recently, that is, when coloring books for adults started to become a thing (thankfully). As an introvert with an anxious mind, it’s hard to just sit back, relax, and do nothing. In fact, thinking about doing nothing sounds quite stressful to me. But give me a coloring book, some light tunes, and a fragrant candle, and I’m ready to de-stress and unwind.
Does coloring really help you relax? Heck yeah it does — and there’s a bit of research that explains why. According to WebMD, coloring allows you to focus on a simple task instead of thinking about chores, work, or whatever else is going on inside your humming mind. WebMD also reports that coloring has therapeutic benefits, putting your mind into a meditative state — which is exactly what you want before bedtime.
If you’re like me and need a low-stimulus activity to distract your mind at night, I recommend getting yourself a coloring book and a fresh set of crayons or colored pencils. Pick a coloring book — or start your own collection — and get into the routine of giving yourself 15 minutes to an hour of coloring time before bed.
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4. Tidying up: Reducing clutter and anxiety will help you relax.
Now, I am not telling you to embark on a whole-house-deep-cleaning adventure at 11 p.m. But I am suggesting that if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed before bed, take a few minutes to tidy up.
VeryWellMind reports that one-third of their readers find clutter overwhelming. So whether it be folding laundry, cleaning off that chair (the one where your not-quite-dirty-not-quite-clean clothing lives), or wiping down your bathroom sink, a lil’ tidying up puts my mind at ease before hopping into bed. Plus, we introverts like a clutter-free environment — organizing makes us happy. Try it — you’ll see.
5. Going offline: Eliminate anxiety triggers late at night.
Of course, the better answer would be to put your phone — and any other electronics — down at least 30 minutes before bed. It’s an important part of sleep hygiene; the blue light devices emit don’t promote sleep. But in today’s digital society, ignoring your phone is not necessarily an easy thing to do. So instead, my advice for anxious introverts is to start slow by getting off the internet 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime.
What purpose does this serve? The internet can be silly and entertaining — I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find myself awake at three in the morning watching TikToks from time to time — but it can also induce anxiety. For those who find themselves easily triggered, surfing social media or browsing the web late at night isn’t the best idea (uhm, please do not ever do a deep dive into conspiracy theories if you want to get a good night’s rest).
That’s why I recommend doing a soft unplug pre-bedtime. Disconnect from the internet and put your phone on Airplane Mode. Doing so prevents you from getting sucked into a Reddit rabbit hole and helps you break what Cleveland Clinic refers to as “doomscrolling” habits. It also means that no one can call or text you — talk about peace.
If you still need a way to decompress before shutting off the light, try downloading a low-stimulus game that doesn’t require internet access, such as Two Dots or Infinity Loop — personally, my go-to is Bubble Shooter. The goal is to find a game that eases your mind and helps you unwind when it’s time to hit the hay, making it easy to stay offline.
Get Some Sleep, Introverts — You Need It!
Remember, as an introvert, you need to protect your energy, so getting a healthy amount of sleep every night is crucial. Try different bedtime practices to figure out a routine that works for you — for instance, some introverts find sleeping apart from their partner is helpful. It’s a loud world out there for us anxious introverts. While it may require a lil’ extra effort on our end to decompress before bed, it’s so, so worth it.
My fellow anxious introverts, what would you add to this list? I’d love for you to share in the comments below!