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Somniphobia: Can People be Too Scared to Sleep?

Posted On November 4, 2015
Image of scared woman trying to sleep
November 04, 2015

You are addicted. You admit it. You can’t seem to get enough of the hit TV shows American Horror Story or The Walking Dead. After binge watching for 6 hours, you have finally unlocked somniphobia. But somniphobia isn’t just about getting to the end of a new series. Somniphobia is something real to people who have a fear of sleeping. The classic definition of a phobia is an exaggerated, usually an illogical fear of a situation or object. As with other phobias, such as acrophobia (fear of heights) and claustrophobia (confined spaces), the fear of sleeping can have a profound effect on a person’s life.

Why Does Somniphobia Occur?

As with most phobias, the fear can develop subsequent to a traumatic event, genetics or personal physiology. But then again if as a child you had numerous nightmares, night terrors or even walked in your sleep, then as an adult you certainly could have developed somniphobia. When a person has a fear of sleep, it can present symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, irregular heartbeat, nausea, dry mouth, panic attacks and a sense of disaster. For the most part, people with somniphobia start to experience the majority of his or her symptoms as the hour draws near toward a traditional bed time. And there are also some individuals with somniphobia who have an accompanying fear of dying, specifically in his or her sleep.

With the fear of sleep comes the fact that sufferers have problems falling and staying asleep, namely they develop insomnia. When people with somniphobia do not get adequate sleep, they put their body and mind at risk for a host of life-threatening conditions. Plus the effects on day-to-day life are astronomical from health to work to emotional.

Besides the symptoms associated with somniphobia, these individuals also experience the side effects of having little to no sleep on a consistent basis. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss, both short term and long term

For the most part, treatment of somniphobia involves various psychological options. Sufferers plagued by a fear of sleep talk out why they are so frightened to hit the hay, be it trauma, constant nightmares, etc. Their fears are addressed head on, which in turn treats the somniphobia. With somniphobics, sometimes the insomnia is treated directly with cognitive therapy and/or medication.

Another help is develop a stress and anxiety management plan of action. Even better is to practice good sleep hygiene techniques. Some quick tips are:

  • Try to establish a set time to go to sleep and wake-up during the week and on the weekend.
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking cigarettes and alcohol a couple of hours before going to sleep. These substances can act as a stimulant and making falling asleep that much more difficult.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. Take a calming bath or shower, play soothing and meditative music or read a book.

If you are having trouble sleeping for whatever reason, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.

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