Why I ‘Go to Bed’ Early as an Introvert (Spoiler Alert: I’m Not Sleeping)

An introvert in bed

As an introvert, when I “go to bed” early, it’s the solitude I need almost more than the actual sleep. 

“It’s been a long day, I’m going to head to bed.” I smile and kiss my husband, and say goodnight to the in-laws, praying that no one calls me out for going to bed before 9 p.m. 

I close the bedroom door and feel instant relief. Alone at last. I’m not tired enough to actually sleep, but I desperately need solitude. I get in bed and pull out my phone. I scroll Instagram and Facebook, check my email, watch a YouTube video, and even check my bank account. Beforehand, I wasn’t sure what to do with this time; I just knew I needed it. 

When we moved in with my in-laws for about six months, it was a full house with my husband and our two little kids, plus the in-law’s two teenage children. And though they are wonderful people — and we were lucky to be able to stay with them until we could buy our own house — it was a lot for this introvert. I had, after all, married into a large, boisterous family after having come from a much quieter home.      

So I would retreat to bed at unusually early hours. However, it was nothing new for me. I’d been an early-to-bed person most of my life. It’s not because I need a ton of sleep (though anyone will tell you I’m not quite the same with less than eight hours). But it’s the solitude I need almost more than the actual sleep. And I’m sure other introverts get it. After all, some sleep separately from their partners or even live in a different house altogether. Here are some reasons we introverts may go to bed early.

5 Reasons Why Introverts Might Go to Bed Early

1. It’s the only way to (truly) be alone.

Sometimes going to bed early is the only way to actually be alone and escape all the stimuli we get from being around others. Whether it’s roommates or family, when the house is full, the only space that’s reserved just for me is my bed. For introverts, our bedrooms are our havens. You can always try the escaping-to-the-bathroom trick, but that’s not going to last long before it gets weird. (Plus, in a crowded house, someone will need it sooner rather than later.) When you’re just done and socially depleted at the end of the day, “going to bed” is your best bet. 

2. It’s socially acceptable.

Going to bed early is also one of the more socially acceptable ways to ensure you won’t be bothered by anyone. Even my toddler knows that when someone is sleeping, you stay quiet and leave them alone. While there are other means of getting alone time at home, none seem to work out so well. I’ve tried reading in the back room, but inevitably someone will show up just to chat. (An extrovert, probably.) Even cleaning the house leaves me vulnerable to intruders who want to help (though I find cleaning the bathroom buys me a few moments because no one actually wants to help scrub toilets). 

3. It saves you from having to over-explain yourself.

Speaking of extroverts, have you ever tried telling them you just need to be alone? They have a tendency to either be offended or assume something must be wrong. Because the only time extroverts want to be alone is when something is actually wrong. So an introvert’s request to be alone causes red flags and alarm bells to go off for them… while you’re simply trying to catch your breath. (But trust us, extroverts — it really is us, not you!) Going to bed early avoids the awkward (and tiring) over-explaining that everything really is fine. 

4. You quite literally cannot talk anymore. 

At some point in the evening, introverts will lose the energy reserves needed to continue interacting with people. In other words, we’re about to get real rude, real fast (or what may be perceived as rude). Have you ever tried to talk to an introvert and their eyes just glazed over and you wondered if you said something wrong? Chances are, they didn’t even hear what you said; if they did, they simply didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to formulate a response. (Again, extroverts — it really is us, not you!) Introverts need to find the escape route with the least resistance, and “I’m going to bed now” is usually it. 

5. You need to recover and process the day so you can actually sleep.

When my brain is overstimulated and I feel frazzled and fried, it’s hard for me to actually fall asleep. Introverts need time to process and recover from all the stimuli of the day, whether it was a good day or bad one. We’ve expended most of our energy interacting with other people, so we need to be alone to recharge and gear up for the next day (or even just settle down from the current day). We also want to avoid an “introvert hangover” at all costs — when we’re beyond exhausted from socializing. We need to protect our energy, so an early bedtime is in order more often than not.

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How to Make the Most of Your Early ‘Bedtime’

There are also some ways to make the most of your early “bedtime.”

  • Wind down. Start with a good wind-down routine. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, just something to signal to your sweet, introverted brain that you’re done with people now — it can relax. Maybe it’s a bath, a nighttime skincare routine, or a few stretches after you put on comfy clothes. Make it something you genuinely enjoy that will help calm your nervous system. 
  • Read a book. Once you’re ready to enjoy your alone time, grab a good book and curl up in bed. Reading is a great way to turn off the anxieties of the day and tune into someone else’s story. I always try to keep a good fiction book or two on my nightstand to avoid having to sneak back out to get a book from the living room (where people are bound to be lingering). 
  • Listen to a podcast. If you find yourself without a good book in hand, you can always opt for a podcast or an audio book. Just pop those earbuds in and relax. Whether you’re into true crime or stand-up comedy, there’s something for everyone. You can even stream a guided meditation if you’re having an extra hard time settling down. 
  • Watch TV. Of course, there’s always the option to turn on Netflix and binge your favorite show — it’s the ultimate escapism entertainment. Watch shows no one else in the family wants to watch or enjoy reality TV guilt-free. Save that cheesy movie you’ve been wanting to watch for “bedtime” and enjoy!
  • Enjoy the stillness… and silence! Ultimately, the point of going to bed early is to be alone and escape all the external stimuli, so go ahead — turn off the lights and immerse yourself in complete silence and solitude. In our loud and fast-paced society, it’s so rare to find peace and quiet. You owe it to yourself to seek it out and recharge. 

Solitude Is a Necessity for Introverts 

While most of us introverts love to spend time with inner circle friends and family, we need solitude to recharge from all that socializing. Living with other people — roommates, partners, family members — means that solitude gets harder and harder to come by. We have to get creative with when, and how, we are able to slow down and fit in alone time. 

While it is beneficial to have conversations with the extroverts in our lives about our need for stillness, it’s hard to do so at the end of the day when you’re completely depleted. So that’s why I think “going to bed” early is one easy way for introverts to sneak in some alone time without having to explain ourselves. 

So, introverts, don’t be afraid to sneak away and get what you need so that you can show up as your best self. And, extroverts, the next time your introverted friend or family member heads off to bed early, just let them go in peace. You’ll both be better for it the next day!

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Written By

I am a freelance writer in Upstate New York, covering motherhood, yoga, and wellness. I have contributed to places like YogiApproved, Mantra Magazine, and more. I also write a column called Behind the Scenes, a collection of personal essays. You can find more about me and my work at AmyHortonFreelance.com.