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.
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 Effect,” which only allows the right hemisphere of your brain to rest while the left hemisphere stands watch.
Cuddling can be surprisingly beneficial to both physical and mental health, including quality of resting at night. This may be due to the release of the hormone oxytocin which helps to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, promoting a more relaxed and restful bedtime experience.
Tricks and Tips
Despite all these obstacles, it is still possible to drift off into Dreamland even while facing these issues. Some experts recommend relaxation techniques, 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.
Recent developments in apps featuring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia could help guide sleepers through these techniques. Experts also recommend resting with a pet (like a dog). Many people rely on dogs as a form of protection and the body is still likely to release oxytocin while cuddling with a cat or dog. No wonder dogs are man’s best friend!
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.
Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.
She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.