The Sensitive Brain and Rest

The highly sensitive brain needs rest. Taking in subtle cues, processing stimulation in a more elaborate way, and seeking connections between ideas, concepts, and experiences are all fatiguing for the highly sensitive person. One of the aspects we always advocate for quite strongly is the need for adequate sleep and rest for HSPs. It is normal for HSPs to need more sleep than for those who may be lower in sensitivity, which follows given that they spend less time expending energy on the things we HSPs are known for: deep thinking, critical and creative thinking, and meaning making.

Simply put, we HSPs are a variation on a survival strategy for the species. It is an advantage to have some percentage of the species who feel and think more deeply. Nature always varies its survival strategies within species and sometimes between species, as when one will provide an advantage to another, think of the relationship between bees and flowers.

Humans being able to survive in the often harsh environment of our ancestral past likely required a multiplicity of survival strategies, with Sensory Processing Sensitivity (the underlying personality trait or temperament in HSPs) only representing one variation. Obviously, SPS was and is a powerful strategy since it is still in the gene pool and about 1/5th of the population are on the higher end of sensitivity.

The sensitive brain in our modern world is beset with a non-stop train of stimulating images, video streams, and unnatural noise levels that we were never evolved to tolerate. It is no wonder so many of us prefer the peaceful quiet countryside or at least quiet. We need the time in nature to settle the brain and reset to a more natural baseline. We need the right amount of sleep that works for each of us. We need lives that stimulate us within our optional range of arousal and, rarely, go beyond, if we are to perform at our best and fulfill our often healthy developmental potential.

2020 certainly has proven to be overstimulating in many ways and many of us have simply unplugged and hunkered down to wait it out. Many of us already had lives where we telecommuted or worked for ourselves in some capacity. Many of us utilized the time to create new projects and endeavors, just as I would expect of HSPs and especially HSS/HSPs during stretches of open time.

Regardless of how you have used your time in 2020, we should all make rest the bedrock of everything else that we do. This is crucially important for HSPs.

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