Most of us look forward to turning in for the evening. That's not the case for those suffering from sleep dread, which is also sleep phobia, somniphobia, sleep anxiety, or hypnophobia. For these individuals, the idea of losing consciousness can be terrifying. How common is this phenomenon, and what can you do about it? Below is some information you need to know.
What is Sleep Dread?
Sleep dread is a condition in which people become fearful of going to sleep. They may panic at the idea of losing control or worry about having nightmares. Some may be concerned over thoughts of sleepwalking or even dying in their sleep. Fears of having someone break in or attack you during your sleep can bring about sleep anxiety as well.
With somniphobia, you may become anxious as time for bed draws near. You may exhibit signs that are similar to those of a panic attack: rapid breathing, profuse sweating, and an increased heart rate. You might even try to avoid turning in or involve yourself in other activities to stay up later.
Those with hypnophobia tend to have high levels of the "fight or flight" hormone cortisol. Accordingly, they may not rest well once they do fall asleep. If you ever wake up in the middle of the night and are anxious about getting back to sleep, you could be suffering from sleep dread.
Signs of Sleep Phobia
You may have somniphobia if you:
- Awaken throughout the night with symptoms of a panic attack
- Routinely use herbs or medications to ease your fear of sleep
- Wait to fall asleep until you are completely exhausted
- Toss and turn because you worry about falling or staying asleep
- Have conditioned yourself to go on very little slumber so that you do not have to sleep any longer than necessary
- Avoid traveling because you're afraid of sleeping in a strange location
- Require someone to be with you when you fall asleep
- Take naps off and on during the day so you can avoid sleeping for long periods during the night
If you have hypnophobia, chances are you already know this. You may have even suffered from this condition for years and have come to look on it as usual. Even so, suffering from sleep phobia is not something you should have. A lot is riding on your sleep hygiene, so you must take measures to deal with this problem head-on.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
The right amount of sleep is necessary for good physical and mental health. Even so, many people with somniphobia are chronically sleep-deprived. Failing to get enough rest can lead to several health problems, including:
- Poor memory
- A lack of concentration
- Increasing your risk of high blood pressure or heart disease
- Affecting hormone production
- Weight gain and obesity
- Causing depression or other mental health conditions
What Causes Somniphobia?
Fear of sleeping can be brought on by many different things. For example, veterans and crime victims may have recurring nightmares that make them anxious about going to sleep. For this reason, somniphobia is something many people with PTSD also have.
Those who have had their homes broken into may worry about this happening again and may feel especially frightened at the idea of sleeping alone at night. These individuals may feel stressed despite having ramped up their home security.
Women tend to suffer from sleep phobia more often than men do. One reason could be because violent television shows and horror movies often depict female victims who are at home alone in their bed at night.
Among children, somniphobia most often occurs in cases of separation anxiety. Some kids feel okay in their bedrooms, and only display signs when they are away from home. Others have a hard time remaining in their bed and may insist on falling asleep with their parents. It can be present even in infants, who may fight sleep or wake up repeatedly during the night.
Treatment for Sleep Dread
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is one method widely used to treat cases of sleep dread. With CBT, you learn to associate getting into bed as something positive. Therapists usually advise against doing any activities such as reading or watching television in bed. In that way, you associate your bedroom only with sleep.
Part of somniphobia therapy also involves learning relaxation techniques. Practicing meditation and deep breathing techniques can help calm the senses, so you fear the thought of going to sleep even less.
Anyone with sleep anxiety should avoid violent media. Forego watching crime shows, horror flicks, and intense television programs, even during the day. Ensure any video games you play do not depict violence, gore, or any other similar content.
If you do wake up during the evening, give yourself about 20 minutes or so to go back to sleep. If you cannot fall asleep during that time, get up and engage in light activity until you begin to feel tired again.
With the right behavioral therapy, many people can overcome cases of sleep dread. It is especially true among those who can nail down the exact cause of their anxiety. If you or a loved one is suffering, speak with a therapist who can prescribe you a course of action that will help you overcome this fear.
Creating the Right Sleep Environment
The right sleep environment will make it easier for you to associate positive vibes with slumber. Create a room that has minimal light and a relaxed, comfortable temperature. Turn off all electronic devices just before retiring. Electronic devices such as cell phones contain LED lighting that is known to disrupt sleep patterns.
The right mattress and bedding are also essential for a good night's rest. At Nest Bedding, we have a vast selection of mattresses, sheets, and pillows that will help you become as comfortable as possible. Contact us to see the collection we have available.