Somniphobia (Concern of Sleep): Indicators, Causes, and Options

For many individuals, the second of lastly mendacity down in mattress after an extended or busy day can solely be described as euphoric. However for others, it will possibly induce simply the other feeling: concern of sleep, or somniphobia.

For individuals with somniphobia, closing their eyes at night time might be something however restful. “Somniphobia is a sort of particular phobia characterised by marked concern and anxiousness relating to falling or being asleep,” explains Evan Vida, PsyD, a postdoctoral fellow on the Middle for Anxiousness & Habits Remedy who makes a speciality of anxiousness problems, together with phobias. Somebody with somniphobia could also be apprehensive about sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, or nightmares, or could also be afraid of one thing occurring to them whereas they’re asleep.

Due to their concern, individuals with somniphobia are more likely to do something they’ll to keep away from sleeping—which might set off a vicious cycle of sleep loss and psychological well being points. “This avoidance typically results in opposed well being outcomes and elevated anxiousness, in flip rising the possibilities of experiencing nightmares or poor well being outcomes,” says Tirrell De Gannes, PsyD, licensed scientific psychologist on the Thriving Middle of Psychology.

“Avoidance [of sleep] typically results in…elevated anxiousness, in flip rising the possibilities of experiencing nightmares or poor well being outcomes.” —Tirrell De Gannes, PsyD, scientific psychologist

If this sounds acquainted, don’t despair: Particular phobias, like somniphobia, are a sort of hysteria dysfunction, and they are often handled as such with the assistance of a psychological well being skilled and habits adjustments. Hold studying to study extra about somniphobia, the best way to inform when you might need it, and what your choices are for tackling this concern.

What are the signs of somniphobia?

“Signs of somniphobia embrace avoidance of going to sleep or falling asleep, utilizing distraction methods to go to sleep, and sleep deprivation,” says Dr. Vida. Going to mattress and even interested by sleep also can trigger intense physiological signs of hysteria, like a racing heartbeat, sweating, shallow respiration, and trembling.

The concern could or will not be of sleep itself; “it will possibly [also] be a concern of getting a recurrent dream or nightmare, a concern of not figuring out what occurs to your thoughts and physique when you sleep, a concern of intruders coming into your own home when you sleep, and a lot extra,” Dr. Vida explains.

Listed here are the most typical signs of somniphobia:

  • Avoiding sleep
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Concern on the considered falling asleep
  • Utilizing distractions to sleep, like leaving the TV or lights on
  • Bother concentrating throughout the day due to sleep-related fears or worries
  • Bodily signs reminiscent of elevated coronary heart price, sweating, shallow respiration, or shaking earlier than mattress

How uncommon is somniphobia?

It isn’t clear precisely how uncommon (or widespread) somniphobia is. “Analysis exhibits1 that lower than 15 % of individuals have some type of particular phobia, and there are lots of subtypes,” explains Dr. De Gannes. For instance, germaphobia (concern of germs), entomophobia (concern of bugs), thanatophobia (concern of demise), cherophobia (concern of happiness), and emetophobia (concern of vomiting) are all particular phobias.

Somniphobia, particularly, is “much less widespread than another phobias, however exact numbers are onerous to find out, because it typically goes unreported,” says Alexander Alvarado, PsyD, a licensed scientific psychologist at Thriving Middle of Psychology whose experience contains utilizing digital actuality publicity remedy to deal with phobias and post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD).

How is it identified?

Somniphobia is identified by a psychological well being skilled primarily based on the presence of signs and by excluding different sleep problems that could possibly be at play, Dr. Alvarado says.

The analysis may even rely on what precisely makes you fearful and the way a lot the concern interferes together with your on a regular basis life, Dr. Vida says. “Many people could expertise anxiousness associated to sleep in some unspecified time in the future, however for a analysis of somniphobia, the concern and avoidance have to be intense, persistent, and disruptive to on a regular basis life.”

Why am I all of a sudden afraid of falling asleep?

Have you ever skilled something scary when you had been asleep or near falling asleep? “Traumatic occasions, particularly these associated to sleep or nighttime, can set off somniphobia,” says Dr. Alvarado. That might embrace having nightmares or nocturnal panic assaults, or somebody breaking into your own home at night time. A traumatic occasion paired with hypervigilance (a heightened state of consciousness, like being in perpetual fight-or-flight mode) is most frequently the reason for somniphobia, says Dr. De Gannes.

When you have one other anxiousness dysfunction, reminiscent of generalized anxiousness dysfunction or panic dysfunction, or a special psychological well being situation like PTSD, melancholy, or obsessive compulsive dysfunction (OCD), you may additionally be extra more likely to develop a particular phobia2 like somniphobia, says Dr. Vida.

Particularly, trauma-induced insomnia related to PTSD is recognized to coincide with a concern of sleep3. And as famous above, any sleep-related concern (like insomnia or nightmares) also can put you at better threat for creating a concern of sleep over time.

What’s the distinction between somniphobia and sleep anxiousness?

In the event you expertise detrimental feelings round sleep, it doesn’t essentially imply you will have somniphobia. In the event you’re careworn about not with the ability to go to sleep or keep asleep, or about not getting sufficient sleep, you could be coping with sleep anxiousness as a substitute.

“Sleep anxiousness could entail worrying in regards to the penalties of not getting sufficient sleep, reminiscent of not with the ability to carry out at your job the subsequent day or being unable to remain awake throughout the day,” says Dr. Vida, “whereas somniphobia shall be a concern focused on the act of sleeping itself.”

As a result of somniphobia and sleep anxiousness have completely different roots, they’ll include distinct diagnoses, too. “Sleep anxiousness would possible fall beneath a analysis of insomnia, whereas somniphobia would fall beneath a analysis of an anxiousness dysfunction,” provides Dr. Vida.

Is somniphobia a psychological well being dysfunction?

Technically, somniphobia isn’t named within the newest model of the Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Psychological Issues (DSM-5), the information that well being professionals use to diagnose psychological problems. Nonetheless, “it’s acknowledged throughout the spectrum of hysteria problems, significantly when the concern is irrational and severely impacts one’s life,” Dr. Alvarado explains.

To place it merely: “All phobias are irrational fears and due to this fact can represent psychological well being problems,” says Dr. De Gannes.

Is somniphobia genetic?

There isn’t sufficient analysis on the situation to find out whether or not genetics play a task. Generally, nonetheless, analysis exhibits4 that particular phobias can have roots in each an individual’s genetics and their surroundings.

It’s additionally true that genetics can affect your sleep habits, which might influence whether or not you get high quality sleep, and doubtlessly have an effect on your threat of creating sleep anxiousness or somniphobia. “Whereas there may be not sufficient proof to recommend a direct genetic hyperlink, sure individuals have [abnormal] sleep-wake cycles, which might result in sleep disturbances and differing sleep wants,” says Dr. Vida.

How is it handled?

Remedy will depend on what you’re afraid of on the subject of sleep. “A educated skilled will assist diagnose the underlying explanation for the somniphobia and work to create a remedy plan that immediately targets this trigger,” Dr. Vida says.

Most frequently, somniphobia remedy5 entails cognitive behavioral remedy (CBT), a therapeutic strategy that entails altering one’s considering patterns. Within the case of phobias, CBT usually contains publicity remedy, too, which is “the place people are regularly uncovered to the scary object or scenario (on this case, going to sleep) in a managed and secure method to cut back concern,” Dr. Vida explains.

Remedy may additionally embrace rest methods and addressing some other underlying dysfunction, Dr. Alvarado provides. “There may be some proof that meditation and hypnotherapy (not hypnotism) might be useful as effectively,” says Dr. De Gannes.

How do I cease my phobia of sleep?

In the event you suspect you’re coping with somniphobia, and it considerably impacts your sleep or each day functioning, you must seek the advice of with a physician or psychological well being skilled, Dr. Alvarado says. In any case, not getting sufficient sleep resulting from a concern of sleep can put you in danger for each further psychological well being points and bodily well being issues like hypertension and a weakened immune system.

Nonetheless, when you suspect you will have a light concern of sleep or aren’t positive you’re coping with full-fledged somniphobia, following the under life-style ideas can assist.

Pinpoint the underlying concern

“Dealing with somniphobia entails taking the tough step of confronting what it’s about sleep that’s inflicting the anxiousness,” says Dr. Vida. You might be able to determine this out by yourself—maybe, for instance, you determine that the underlying concern is of a house intruder when you’re sleeping. On this case, you possibly can take steps to quell that concern, as an illustration double-checking that your doorways and home windows are shut and locked previous to going to mattress.

In any other case, nonetheless, you could must enlist a psychological well being skilled to assist determine the basis trigger, says Dr. Vida, and determine what steps you may take to mitigate it.

Avoid avoidance behaviors

A typical lure individuals fall into with particular phobias is making an attempt to keep away from interested by or confronting the factor as a result of they’re afraid it is too harmful, scary, or insupportable, Dr. Vida says. For instance, you may climb into mattress however then scroll social media for an hour figuring out that it delays the uncomfortable emotions that come from making an attempt to go to sleep.

Nonetheless, this sort of avoidance habits solely reinforces the training that ideas of sleep are unhealthy and ought to be averted, explains Dr. Vida. “This will result in a ‘rebound impact,’ or the ideas changing into extra frequent and ‘stickier,’ or more durable to let go of.”

Strive a bedtime meditation

“A bedtime meditation reminiscent of progressive muscle rest can assist redirect consideration away out of your ideas and convey it to your physique, which might have a chilled impact,” says Dr. Vida. (This follow entails tensing and releasing a wide range of completely different muscle teams in succession, in a manner that distracts your thoughts and lets you tune into your respiration as a substitute.)

You can too hearken to a meditation on a free meditation app that offers extra immediately together with your psychological state. In the event you discover that your concern of sleep remains to be percolating within the background, take into account a mindfulness train that addresses the thought immediately: “A conscious strategy can be acknowledging the fear’s presence whereas additionally acknowledging that you do not have to have interaction with it, and you may let it float by like a cloud passing,” says Dr. Vida.

“A conscious strategy can be acknowledging the fear’s presence whereas additionally acknowledging that you do not have to have interaction with it.” —Evan Vida, PsyD, scientific psychologist

Once you gently nudge your consideration again to the meditation at hand, you’re “sending the message to your ideas that this isn’t the time nor place to be interested by all of the ‘what ifs,’” says Dr. Vida.

Postpone your worries

To assist quiet racing ideas at night time, you may attempt setting apart a future chunk of time (while you’re not actively making an attempt to go to sleep) to deal with them—a therapeutic distraction that may assist change your relationship with the ideas you’re having.

This may appear like acknowledging the ideas that are available in and probably even writing them down, however then telling your self that you just’re going to delay your worrying till your prescribed future “fear time,” reminiscent of 10 a.m. the subsequent day, Dr. Vida explains.

Apply good sleep hygiene

Having good sleep hygiene means taking the right steps to set your self up for wholesome sleep and avoiding widespread sleep errors, like staying in mattress for an extended time period even when you’ll be able to’t sleep. (It’s truly higher to rise up, transfer to a special location, and interact in a restful exercise like studying till you truly really feel sleepy, versus tossing and handing over mattress.)

Different parts of fine sleep hygiene embrace establishing a soothing bedtime routine, limiting display screen time earlier than mattress, avoiding caffeine and alcohol within the night, and sustaining a snug sleep surroundings—all of which might assist in dealing with somniphobia, says Dr. Alvarado.

When to see a physician for somniphobia

All three docs included on this article agree that in case your sleep difficulties or concern of sleep are beginning to impair your high quality of life or each day functioning, you must search skilled assist. Strive discovering a therapist who makes a speciality of anxiousness problems, phobias, or sleep troubles so you may get tailor-made assist.


Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You may belief us alongside your wellness journey.


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  2. Goodwin, Man M. “The overlap between anxiousness, melancholy, and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction.” Dialogues in scientific neuroscience vol. 17,3 (2015): 249-60. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2015.17.3/ggoodwin

  3. Werner, Gabriela G et al. “Concern of sleep and trauma-induced insomnia: A overview and conceptual mannequin.” Sleep drugs critiques vol. 55 (2021): 101383. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101383

  4. Sawyers, Chelsea et al. “The genetic and environmental construction of concern and anxiousness in juvenile twins.” American journal of medical genetics. Half B, Neuropsychiatric genetics : the official publication of the Worldwide Society of Psychiatric Genetics vol. 180,3 (2019): 204-212. doi:10.1002/ajmg.b.32714

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Somniphobia (Concern of Sleep): Indicators, Causes, and Options

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