Not everyone is blessed with the ability to simply sprawl out in an empty, quiet house and just zonk out right away. Many people struggle to fall asleep on a frequent basis, with these issues only growing worse when they are alone.
For some, all it takes is having another person in the house, though not necessarily in the same room, while others require a co-sleeper in order to get through the night. Let’s look at some of the reasons a person could have trouble sleeping alone and what can be done to combat them.
Possible Reasons Why Someone Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone
A common reason people give for being unable to sleep alone is fear of going to sleep (somniphobia). Some are afraid that something will happen during the night, a health event or a nightmare, and they will not have anyone to help them through it. Others simply cannot stand to be alone, awake or asleep and require the company of others to feel relaxed.
If a person generally shares their bed with someone else, they could feel awkward when suddenly sleeping alone. This should feel similar to the sleeplessness many experience during their first few nights in a new home or when traveling to a foreign location. This is known as the “First Night Effect1,” which only allows the right hemisphere of your brain to rest while the left hemisphere stands watch.
Cuddling with someone can help produce the “feel-good hormone” oxytocin2, which might allow you to feel more relaxed at night for better sleep. However, if there’s no one beside you, you don’t get the advantage of physical affection.
Tips for Sleeping Alone
If you’re trying to get more used to sleeping alone, even if it’s just temporary, there are some tips you can utilize.
Some experts recommend relaxation techniques3, such as journaling inner fears, meditation before sleep, positive thinking and calming visual thoughts, and other such activities that could ease the mind and alleviate worries. If you struggle to do this on your own, smartphone apps could help guide you through these techniques.
Sleeping beside a pet could also help you feel more comfortable. Not only could a pet offer a sense of protection, but they can also help lower stress levels4.
Read More: Benefits of Letting Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.
- “Neurological Psychology”. Penn State University. Webpage accessed January 9, 2024.
- “Can You Kiss and Hug Your Way to Better Health? Research Says Yes.”. Penn Medicine. 2018.
- “Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2022.
- “The Friend Who Keeps You Young”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed January 9, 2024.