Why Can’t I Sleep Without My Partner? Plus Tips and Coping Methods When You Can’t Sleep

Sleeping.com Editorial Team

woman can't sleep without her boyfriend, lonely in bed

Do you find it hard to sleep without your partner? Are you lying awake in bed right now thinking “why can’t I sleep without my partner,” or “what does it mean when you can’t sleep without your partner”?

You’re not alone. Many people find it difficult to sleep without their significant other around. I can’t sleep without my boyfriend anymore. If he stays up late gaming, I’ll inevitably lie awake tossing and turning until he joins me in bed. I would be cranky for weeks due to poor sleep when he went on business trips. It was a cycle of exhaustion and frustration.

Like you, I was curious why this was. So I took a deeper dive into the influence sleeping with another person can have on your sleep. Follow me as we explore the reasons your partner’s absence might affect your sleeping habits. And discover some techniques that might be a solution to long sleepless nights.

Why is it Hard to Sleep Without Your Partner?

Before we can start looking for solutions, let’s first examine some of the reasons you might find it hard to fall asleep or get a good sleep while alone. Before you ask, yes most of these apply to pets and platonic sleeping partners, too.

Habit

The most likely factor causing you to say “I can’t sleep without my partner,” is a habit. Habits are a driving force behind almost everything we do and are just as hard to make as they are to break.

Think back to a time you didn’t take part in your morning routine for some reason. Did it leave you feeling off for the rest of the day? Did it slow you down or make you forgetful?

We rely on habits to carry us through tasks. It’s like turning on autopilot. Sometimes when we break these habits, we have to learn how to fly manually again.

If you’ve been sleeping with a partner for a long time, they become a part of your nightly routine. Without them, the preparations you make before bed, as well as just sleeping, feel off.

Hormones

Hormones play a key role in regulating sleep. Melatonin is the hormone in charge of your sleep-wake cycle. But other hormones can also significantly affect your sleep. If you go to bed feeling happy and relaxed, you’ll have a much easier time sleeping than if you are sad or stressed.

Research shows that sleeping with someone else and cuddling can release the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for making you feel relaxed and comfortable. It can also lower blood pressure and promote healing. As you might have guessed, these are all good things for sleeping.

When your partner is not there, your body produces less oxytocin. This lack of oxytocin may leave you feeling restless, anxious, or uncomfortable.

Fear

While you might not want to admit it, you might have trouble sleeping without your partner because you’re afraid to. If your partner is a beacon of safety and security, sleeping without them can feel like sleeping without your favorite toy or night light as a child.

Maybe you grew up in a large household and shared a room with siblings and simply aren’t used to sleeping alone. It can be scary to feel alone, especially if you’re not comfortable in your house or neighborhood.

Loneliness

Simple loneliness is often a contributor to a lack of sleep when your partner isn’t around. Maybe you didn’t get the chance to talk during the day, and you have stories bottling up inside. Or eating dinner alone left you feeling depressed.

A lack of physical contact can also leave you feeling cold and alone.

Anxiety

There are so many reasons you might experience anxiety when your partner is away. Perhaps they’re traveling for work, and your fear of flying is causing you to worry about them. Maybe you have separation anxiety and it’s getting the better of you.

It can even be something as small as knowing that your partner is not there to back you up if you need them. Likely, nothing will happen, but the thoughts of “what ifs” keep circling.

Anxious thoughts can prevent the mind from relaxing and can disrupt sleep patterns even after you’ve fallen asleep.

Sensation

Some people find that when their partner isn’t beside them, they can’t sleep because it’s too quiet, too cold, the bed feels too big, or they can’t sense another person beside them.

The mere presence of your partner is a relaxing thing, and little things like listening to them breathe can stand out more when they’re not there.

How to Sleep Without Your Partner

When I can’t sleep without my boyfriend, I find my issues usually stem from feeling alone and disruption to my nightly habits. I can feel his absence like its own entity, and it follows me around like a cold wind.

Here are some coping methods for when you find it hard to sleep without your partner.

Get a Body Pillow

If you like to play the big spoon, lay as close to your partner as possible, or feel the presence of someone next to you, a body pillow is perfect.

Body pillows come in all shapes and sizes. Some are elongated rectangles that you can koala onto, while others are U-shaped like your partner’s arm when it’s wrapped around you.

Body pillows can recreate the feeling of being held or holding someone and can help reduce stress and anxiety when sleeping alone.

Use a Weighted Blanket

If you miss the feeling of your partner’s arms wrapped around you, a weighted blanket can recreate the sensation quite well. Weighted blankets are also excellent for reducing anxiety, depression, and autism-related discomforts. They also improve overall sleep quality.

If you don’t feel like shelling out for a weighted blanket, using your heaviest, densest blanket may work as a substitute.

Turn On a White Noise Machine

If you miss the nightly sounds of your partner, be it breathing, snoring, talking in their sleep, or even farting, a white noise machine is a perfect solution.

You can buy a proper white noise machine or just set up your phone to play your favorite audio. Most people like the sounds of rain, waves, wind through leaves, or nighttime animal life noises, but there are also sleep aids that recreate breathing, snoring, and other human sounds.

Sleep in the Guest Room

One of the issues with sleeping alone is that the bed can feel too big, and the room too empty. If you have a second, smaller bed, try cozying up there for the night. A change in scenery may also help to take your mind off your missing partner.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a night alone is to give yourself a little “me time”. Take a warm bath, read a book, do a winding down yoga routine, and drink some herbal tea. All of these things will help to tell your body and mind that it’s time to relax and sleep.

Additionally, avoid vigorous exercise, coffee, alcohol, or blue light before bed. That means turn off your computer, put down your phone, and give yourself an hour to just wind down.

Schedule Goodnight Calls

I’m sure you still talk to your SO whenever they’re away, but do you have a scheduled bedtime? Even if your partner is in another time zone, calling them before bed just to say goodnight can help ease your mind and relax your racing thoughts.

Hearing your partner’s voice will help to calm you and put you at ease before bed.

Host Sleepovers

This isn’t a permanent solution. But if your partner is away for an extended period, break up the loneliness with friends.

When my boyfriend used to travel for work, I would always try to schedule a girls’ night if he was going to be gone for more than two weeks.

Aside from the apparent benefits of hanging out with friends, having them stay over can improve your sleep and lessen the nighttime blues.

Special Note for Breakups or Loss

While most of us struggle to sleep alone because our partner is away for work, visiting friends or family, or for some other reason, you may be dealing with losing your partner entirely.

Whether you’ve suffered a breakup or your partner has perished, learning to sleep alone can be an extreme challenge. While some of these techniques might help, adding extra steps to deal with loss and grief can also improve your sleep.

Remember, you can always seek professional help.

The Takeaway

After it’s all said and done, these techniques may not solve your problems, but they should at least help. Creating healthy sleep habits without a partner is key to sleeping well with one.

It’s hard to sleep without your partner, but there are always strategies and habits that can help you cope.

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