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Somniphobia

Updated on November 23, 2009

What is somniphobia?

Somniphobia is a fear of going to sleep. Symptoms include anxiety around bedtime, with panic attacks before and during attempts to sleep. Obvious complications include the ill effects of sleep deprivation: diminished awareness, irritability, and other assorted health problems that result from an unrested body.

Many doctors simply consider somniphobia a symptom of anxiety disorder, but many somniphobia sufferers report feeling just fine emotionally during the day. It is only when they go to sleep that the anxiety rears its head.

Like all phobias, the fear isn’t usually rational. Some sufferers carry a fear that if they go to sleep, they will die and never wake up! The fear may have nothing to do with their actual health either: aside from their sleep loss and anxiety, they may be just fine. A common motivator for somniphobia is a previous string of nightmares, and a resulting fear that going to sleep will result in more nightmares.

Treatment:

No matter what the motivation, anxiety fuels every phobia, and the key to treating somniphobia or any phobia is to reduce or eliminate the anxiety. Some phobias can be left untreated. But if somniphobia’s preventing you from sleeping soundly, it’s a phobia you definitely need to treat! If a leaky pipe is spraying water all over your patio, you don’t grab towels and just mop it up. You fix the pipe so it doesn’t leak all over the patio anymore. Likewise, sleeping and anti-anxiety medications aren’t going to cure the anxiety. Addressing the root cause of the anxiety of stopping or reducing it will. Think of somniphobia as a weed, and anxiety as the soil and roots from which the weed grows. You don’t just cut the weed at the surface to stop it: you have to uproot it.

Seek out resources on treating anxiety. Discover and develop techniques to help your relax, and you will take the first step to conquering your somniphobia. Take up meditation. Cut down on caffeine. Seek out a therapist.

And seek out the motivation for your phobia:

Are you worried about nightmares? Find out what can trigger nightmares and eliminate those triggers. Are negative events and life patterns reappearing in your nightmares? Try to solve those problems in your waking life, so they don’t dwell on your mind after you’ve gone to bed. Seek out a therapist if the nightmares involve bad memories of past events and you struggle to reconcile them with yourself.

Do you worry about dying in your sleep? Think about this: What makes you believe you will die in your sleep? Are you in good health? Are you suffering from health problems? Maybe you worry about dying in your sleep because your health isn’t good, so a logical first step is to improve your health and, in turn, decrease the risk of dying in your sleep. Aside from trying to address those health problems, keep in mind that sleep helps most health problems, and not getting enough sleep can usually make them worse, so going to sleep only helps you, rather than hurts you. Plus, sudden death in one’s sleep is very uncommon. As long as you’re in good health and practicing healthy habits, it’s not worth worrying about.

And most of all, relax! Worrying about your condition only piles on more anxiety and makes it worse. Anxiety breeds more anxiety, and anxiety is the root cause of all phobias.

I leave you with one anxiety management technique and a list of helpful materials:

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      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      Interesting hub. Can't say this is a phobia I'm familiar with, but I can see how it develops. I have restless leg syndrome, so I do feel some anxiety at night about developing that and the impending insomnia I will endure.

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      Laura 7 years ago

      I suffer from chronic somniphobia. At one point I even had to take valium, to make me sleep, around seven a clock I start to worry about what's going to happen at night, and by the time I'm tired enough to go to bed I pretty much just have a complete break down. I can start screaming, hyperventilating, crying hysterically. It's a horrible thing to be afraid of, and a lot of it can spawn from, nightmares, silence at night and sounds in the night, and the darkness. To get a good nights sleep, I can't watch horror movies, can't go to bed when everyone has gone to sleep, and need to play music to block the silence. Its a very severe and can be quite rare, but its more common in younger children, I was diagnosed with it professionally when I was 3. If you know someone with it, then the most you can do it really try and help keep them calm before bedtime, and reassure them!

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      lance 7 years ago

      I have just started experiencing a problem sleeping. Whenever I lie down and begin to relax my breathing in preparation for sleep I start gasping for breath and find myself sitting up in bed trying to overcome a feeling of drowning. Would this fall under this type of sleep dis-order?

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      the pink umbrella 7 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

      i think we all go through this at some point durring childhood, i know i did.

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      jooly 6 years ago

      my sister wants to sleep all the day she has phobia from 6 years ago

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      Invader ZIM 6 years ago

      I know this guy Johnny who doesn't sleep because he thinks he won't be able to tell his dream world apart from the real world and will be lost forever! Poor Nny, i hope he doesn't become a Homicidal Maniac. ;D

    • EFTcuresPhobias profile image

      EFTcuresPhobias 6 years ago

      I can't imagine what it must be like not to get a good nights sleep! I sleep like a log...sorry!

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      naiza1986 6 years ago

      Great hub! I think I know now what I'm suffering from every time the night-time comes. This is very informative and thank you for sharing. :)

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      umer 5 years ago

      i have somniphobia. i think i cannot go to sleep in school days and that's y its really bscary at night.

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      John Connor 5 years ago

      This is a very real and debilitating disorder I haven't found any help yet but am still looking I am mentally broken

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      Ruby 5 years ago

      I think I may have finally found a name to put to my actions. I don't sleep at night because I don't want to. I sleep during the day just fine though, but it messes with every aspect of my life, as most people live life during the daytime hours. My entire life I was terrified of dying or being attacked at night while sleeping. Also had terrifying nightmares. I grind my teeth and scream out at night often I'm told. I also have bad night sweats. All this to say, I haven't been able to explain to anyone, including myself why it is that I force myself to stay awake every night until at least 3 or 4 am. Sometimes I wait until the sun comes up, and then I will finally go to bed. I think...I think I may be afraid to sleep. I think this may be it. Now what am I supposed to do about it? That I don't know. But at least I know for myself it isn't "insomnia", because it is me choosing to stay awake. I have been googling this like crazy and finally found this. I have generalized anxiety disorder and depression too. I guess I have had this for as long as I can remember.

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      Alexxstrovas 4 years ago

      I'm 16, i have recently developed somniphobia, i also have PTSD.. Could those two be connected?

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