We already know that sleep affects our emotions but research now suggests there is an association between certain personality traits and insomnia severity.
A 2017 study published in Brain Sciences set out to determine the associations of personality traits with both overall insomnia and different insomnia characteristics.
Researchers utilized the five-factor model (FFM) to define personality traits. The traits included in this model are:
Extraverts are usually seen as individuals with boundless energy who enjoy interacting with others and are action-oriented.
Characteristics of extraverts include:
- Regularly starting conversations
- Being the "life of the party"
- Being comfortable around people
Agreeable individuals value the importance of getting along with others. Generally trustworthy and considerate, these people tend to have an optimistic view of human nature.
Characteristics of agreeable individuals include:
- Sympathizing with others
- Making time for others
- Making others feel at ease
Those who are conscientious tend to be self-disciplined and prefer to plan rather than act spontaneously.
Characteristics of conscientious individuals include:
- Getting chores done without delay
- Following a schedule and always being prepared
- Paying attention to details
Those with this personality trait tend to be curious, creative, and more aware of their feelings. Individuals with an openness to experience tend to:
- Appreciate art
- Enjoy adventure
- Hold unconventional beliefs
Neurotic individuals are more likely to experience negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression. Neuroticism is often considered to be a form of emotional instability and is characterized by:
- Worry and anxiety
- Frequent mood swings
- Easily getting stressed, irritated, and upset
The personality traits linked to insomnia
The study involved 2,089 volunteers between 18 and 84 years of age. Participants filled out questionnaires that assessed their personality traits and insomnia severity.
Researchers found that neuroticism was strongly and directly related to insomnia. Those with this trait were more likely than other personality traits to report:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Early morning awakening
- Dissatisfaction with sleep
- Impaired quality of life
- Interference with daily functioning
- Worrying about sleep
Highly conscientious people were found to be more likely to experience difficulty staying asleep compared to other insomnia symptoms, but they were less likely to report sleep problems interfering with their daily functioning.
Finally, researchers linked openness and agreeableness with insomnia severity but concluded that extraversion was not directly related to insomnia.
A new direction for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia?
As the authors of this study pointed out, a better understanding of how personality traits influence sleep may have consequences for the future of cognitive behavioral therapy treatment. Future research may help identify the interventions that are most appropriate and effective at addressing sleep issues in insomniacs according to their individual personality traits.