Can The Way You Sleep Change Your Personality? What We Know

As ironic as this may sound, sleep is one of the most important aspects of one's life. Sleep is a natural bodily instinct, one that everyone finds a great deal of joy in as well. (Come on, we think everyone can agree that there's nothing better than snuggling into a cozy bed after a hot shower and a long day at work!) However, a quality slumber is beneficial for far more reasons than just relaxation and recharging; it has been proven to be a pillar of health, daily performance, and, most recently, personality, too. 

Sleep has long intrigued medical professionals, making it the subject of innumerable clinical studies. In 2021, the Journal of Research in Personality conducted a study on the connection between a person's personality traits and their sleeping habits. The study sought to determine to what extent genetic and environmental factors contribute to sleep quality and, consequently, personality traits.

About the study

To adequately differentiate between genetic and environmental factors' impact on sleep, the study amalgamated a large sample of twins to act as participants. Given that twins share the same genotype, or genetics, utilizing twins in the study was crucial to highlight and substantiate the differences between genetically-induced outcomes and environmentally-induced ones. The study first assessed each participant's personality type and then measured their sleep quality by a uniform metric of initiation ease, interruptions (if any), and perceived restoration. The findings were then compared to each participant's respective measurement of various personality traits, including neuroticism, positive affectivity, planfulness, achievement-striving, stress-reaction, well-being, hostility, and aggressiveness. 

Ultimately, the study found that all tested personality traits except achievement-striving were correlated with one's subjective sleep quality, with poor sleep contributing to a weakened manifestation of said traits. Notably, participants' stress reactions and well-being had the most notable correlation with sleep quality. The study also found that the correlation between sleeping patterns and personality traits is driven largely by genetic factors rather than environmental ones, highlighting that twins generally shared similar sleeping patterns and personality traits regardless of their respective life predicaments. 

Improving your sleep

Since we now know that improving your sleep can help improve your personality, let's explore how to make the most of your nightly slumber! Experts at the National Institute of Health suggest that optimal sleep duration for adults is between 7 and 9 hours every night. There are a few different things that you can do to reach this goal. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that consistency is a crucial factor in rectifying one's sleeping pattern. Getting into the habit of falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day teaches your body what your rest and wake times should be, and your body will eventually grow accustomed to that. The source also asserts that removing electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, computers, and even TVs, from the bedroom can help foster better sleep. Finally, it is also suggested that avoiding large meals before bed can improve sleep quality as well, as eating before bed has been proven to adversely affect both digestion and sleep quality (via Cleveland Clinic).