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Here's How to Combat Sleep Separation Anxiety During the Holidays

Sometimes holiday travel means being away from your partner. If you are experiencing sleeping separation anxiety, here are 5 tips to help calm your mind.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Sleep, Mental Health, Nutrition and Supplements Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
3 min read
Woman lying in bed at night while scrolling through her phone.
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If you or your partner are traveling for the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year can feel incredibly lonely. Separation anxiety, or the fear of being away from loved ones, happens to many people during the holiday season. For many, it's most prevalent when it's time to sleep. It can be difficult to sleep when you're alone, for many reasons -- like you're anxious about being by yourself, or can't fall asleep without your partner nearby. 

Don't worry: You're not doomed to poor sleep for the holidays. Sleeping soundly while alone is entirely possible, it may just take a few tricks to subdue your separation anxiety.

For more ways to get better sleep, check out which foods you should eat to get the best sleep and how to build the ultimate music playlist for sleep. 

5 sleeping tips to try when your partner is away

1. Try a body pillow

Like Lily and Marshpillow in How I Met Your Mother, investing in a body pillow to use when your partner is away can help you sleep better. While it's not a perfect replacement, it can help you from feeling alone in bed. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the original extra-long pillow to the curved pregnancy pillow, as well as animal shapes. You can check out our selections for the best body pillows to find your ideal match. 

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You can also add a heating pad to re-create the warm sensation of snuggling. 

2. Add a weighted blanket to your bed

You can opt for a weighted blanket if you're a cuddler but don't want to buy a body pillow. Using a weighted blanket essentially feels like one big hug, which is what some people crave when their partner is away. It works by using deep-pressure stimulation to reduce cortisol and increase dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Essentially, it reduces stress and relaxes you. Check out our best weighted blanket list to find your best fit.

Read more: 4 Tips for Choosing the Best Weighted Blanket for You

3. Drink a cup of tea

When you're sleeping with separation anxiety, you may feel too worked up to fall asleep in the first place. When that happens, it's important to focus on relaxation. Drinking caffeine-free tea before bed is a great way to prepare for bed. Teas like magnolia, valerian root and chamomile have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia. For the best results, it's recommended to brew your tea and drink it at least an hour or two before bed. Make sure you also take a trip to the bathroom, so you don't wake up in the middle of the night. 

4. Add a sound machine 

We get used to the sounds our partner makes while sleeping. When that background noise is not there, it can be difficult to fall asleep. You can add a white noise or sound machine to your bedroom to replace their snoring or the sound of their breathing. 

Not only does it help you feel less alone and make the normal groans of a house less scary at night, but it actually will help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. A small study found that sound machines may also improve your sleep quality, even for those who don't have sleep separation anxiety.  

Read more: The Best White Noise Machine for Better Sleep

Person lying in bed on their phone with their cat by their legs.
Dmitry Marchenko/EyeEm/Getty Images

5. Let your pet sleep in the bed with you

Some suggest that co-sleeping with your pet will negatively affect your sleep with frequent disruptions. While that concern may hold some merit, sleeping with your pet can be good for you in some special cases, like if you're experiencing separation anxiety. Cuddling your pet releases oxytocin, the chemical in the brain that reduces stress and boosts feelings of happiness. When your partner is away, it may be worth letting your four-legged friend sleep with you in the bed on occasion so you don't feel alone. 

For more on sleep, find out why you're tired when you wake up

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.