Why Can't I Sleep by Myself?

Medically Reviewed on 4/9/2021

There are several reasons why it's hard to fall asleep alone, but there are many things you can do to combat the problem. You may have a hard time sleeping by yourself because of fear, bad habits, hormones or grief.
There are several reasons why it's hard to fall asleep alone, but there are many things you can do to combat the problem. You may have a hard time sleeping by yourself because of fear, bad habits, hormones or grief.

You are all alone in your home and it’s time to hit the bed. The mere thought of sleeping alone makes you feel creepy. You are not alone. Many people struggle to fall asleep, especially when they are by themselves.

Some people require the reassurance that comes with having another person in the house, although not necessarily in the same room. Others require a co-sleeper to sleep peacefully.

There are several reasons why it's hard to fall asleep alone, but there are many things you can do to combat the problem. People could have trouble sleeping alone for the following reasons.

  • Fear: One of the most common reasons people cannot fall asleep when they are alone is somniphobia (fear of going to sleep). Common reasons for people having trouble sleeping include
    • People feel something will happen during the night, especially a health event or a nightmare.
    • Some people cannot stay awake or fall asleep alone and require a companion to feel relaxed.
  • Habit: Some people are habituated to sharing a bed with someone else. They may feel uncomfortable sleeping alone. Many people experience sleeplessness during their first few nights in a new home or when traveling to a foreign location. This effect is known as the “First Night Effect.”
  • Hormones: Snuggling with your loved ones can have several benefits.
    • Improves physical and mental health
    • Improves quality of sleep at night
    • Releases oxytocin, leading to a decrease in blood pressure
    • Reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, so you can get a peaceful night's sleep
    • Boosts the immune system
    • Relieves pain and anxiety
    • Elevates mood
  • Grief: Sudden loss of a loved one or a breakup can have a tremendous effect on your sleeping pattern. It can bring up an uneasy feeling of sadness that makes it difficult to fall asleep. You may have to deal with sad emotions without enough levels of the feel-good hormones to help you get through it.

What are some ways to sleep alone peacefully?

It is vital to get a good night’s sleep, whether alone or with a co-sleeper. On days when you are all alone and you’re unsure about how to sleep peacefully, use these tips.

  • Sleep with a pet dog: Experts recommend that sleeping with a pet can have the same effect as sleeping with a partner. Cuddling with a cat or dog releases oxytocin that might help one cope with the fear of sleeping alone.
  • Talk therapy: This therapy helps one identify and work through their fears. Talk therapy helps one’s body develop better sleep patterns, which can be helpful for somniphobia.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Some of the ways you can wind down and increase your chances of sleeping alone peacefully include
    • Taking long, slow, deep breaths
    • Slowly relaxing your muscles while focusing on your breath
    • Imagining yourself in a soothing scene, place or experience in your mind to help you relax and focus
    • Practicing yoga, tai chi and qigong
  • Positive thinking: This can help combat fear and counteract bad thoughts that creep up while sleeping alone.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/9/2021
References
Medscape Medical Reference

Sleep Advisor


Sleep.org