The word “introvert” often conjures up images of extremely timid, anti-social people who’d rather listen to the prolonged buzz of a radio station’s emergency broadcast system test for fun than interact with others. However, their preference for quiet time and inner reflection doesn’t mean they’re awkward hermits. More importantly, did you know that introverts may even be healthier than their more exuberant, on-the-go counterparts (a.k.a. extroverts)?
Here’s a look at the top five health benefits of being an introvert:
1. Introverts Sleep Better
Despite ever-increasing work hours, coupled with household demands after a long day in the office, extroverts often still find the time to stay up late socializing. They may be out with friends or on the phone, meeting their need to stay energized and engaged. Introverts, on the other hand, are fine about relinquishing time chatting with people in exchange for some well-deserved shuteye at the end of the day.
In fact, scientists note that social butterflies experience more sleep deprivation than those who resist staying up late attending social events. The findings were published in the journal Sleep, after extroverts were divided in groups to test their abilities based on whether they engaged in activities with others or alone. Both groups were tested after having adequate sleep and then again after being sleep deprived for 22 hours. Which group exhibited better reaction time? You guessed it: the group that participated in activities alone.
Why does this matter? Many introverts correctly view sleep as important, as it is essential to good health. According to Christopher Drake, PhD (a sleep researcher at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center), extroverts are “…building up a sleep debt. Every single night you’re adding to that debt, and unless you pay down that debt on a regular basis, you will see an effect on your ability to think and to perform.” Everything from higher levels of anxiety and depression to engaging in riskier behaviors and getting in vehicular accidents increases when a person is sleep deprived.
2. Introverts Are Good in Weight Control
The thought may be that introverts are more likely to be obese—after all, they have plenty of alone time to indulge in potato chips and ice cream without care about what others think. However, it’s extroverts who are likely packing on the pounds.
A study conducted by experts at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that when presented with a large bowl, extroverted children were inclined to serve themselves 33 percent more cereal and milk than introverts using the same-sized bowl. The hypothesis is that extroverts tend to become overly stimulated by environmental cues (the size of the bowl in this case) and react accordingly, while introverts are more in tune to internal feelings that prevent them from overeating.
3. Introverts are Less Accident Prone
Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD (assistant professor in the department of psychology and human services at Davis & Elkins College) says that introverts are less likely to get involved in preventable accidents. She explains that because introverts are more inclined to think, and then react—something that extroverts typically do not do as much—they’re not as apt to engage in impulsive behaviors that can lead to accidents.
“Problems with alcohol and accidents—those happen more to people who are externally oriented,” she says.
4. Introverts are Sexually Responsible
Since extroverts have a tendency towards spontaneous behaviors and are frequently motivated by external stimuli, they engage in more sex. Not a bad thing (wink, wink), right? Well, it can be, because researchers have discovered that extroverts tend to seek out sex with more individuals, since they tend to need constant stimulation than introverts do in order to feel good.
While sex certainly feels good and can establish loving bonds between people, the fact remains that the more people with whom we choose to slip between the sheets, the greater the odds of getting a sexually transmitted disease.
Furthermore, experts have also noted that introverts are less inclined to cheat on their partners than extroverts. Although a variety of factors come into play when for both introverts and extroverts when decisions about fidelity are made, a certain variation in genetics has been found in extroverts—a variation that’s actually linked to a disposition towards cheating.
5. Introverts Make More Time for Themselves
Whether it’s reading a book, browsing social media or enjoying a walk alone, introverts are very in tune with body and mind. They know when they have done too much, and have no problem refraining from excessive stimulation to give themselves a break. Instead of surrounding themselves with constant activity, they appreciate the mental and physical downtime that provides the opportunity to reflect and recharge. In turn, they are often kinder to their bodies, giving their bodies the rest they need to manage stress and soothe their souls.