The night can become your worst enemy, instead of a restorative moment, if you suffer from somniphobia.
Somniphobia, or fear of sleeping, generates extreme anxiety and dread of going to bed and falling asleep. Also called hypnophobia or oneirophobia, this phobia negatively affects your health if you suffer from it, due to the inability to sleep, there is no recovery of physical and mental activity to continue to see an optimal rhythm of life and quality.
Like any other phobia, it will be diagnosed as a disorder when the fear and anxiety generated causes anxiety and interferes and makes daily life difficult.
Understanding sleep and its phases is essential to see in perspective how the inability to sleep affects a person. People with somniphobia alter their sleep mechanisms, which leads to physical and psychological consequences, interfering with the proper development of daily life.
What does it mean to be afraid to sleep?
People who suffer from somniphobia generally experience a feeling of anxiety during the hours and moments before falling asleep, or simply thinking that this moment is coming.
In many occasions, we are not afraid of the particular dream, but of what may happen while we sleep.
Although there is no real objective threat to falling asleep, such as stopping breathing or not waking up, the anxiety eventually produces insomnia due to efforts to stay awake through the night.
Somniphobia is linked to insomnia, lack of sleep and lack of rest, which, together with stress and the associated physical and mental deterioration, can lead to hallucinations, disorientation and mood disorders, as well as difficulty concentrating or remembering.
What are the symptoms?
There are no specific symptoms that occur in everyone diagnosed with this phobia, but there are common symptoms related to both mental and physical health.
The most common symptoms related to this phobia, in relation to mental health are:
- Feeling fear or anxiety when thinking about sleeping.
- Increasing anxiety in the moments before bedtime.
- Do your best not to fall asleep or avoid going to bed.
- Having panic attacks at bedtime.
- Trouble concentrating, mood swings, or difficulty remembering details, stemming from sleep-related worry and fear.
On the other hand, physical symptoms are attributed to:
- Stomach problems, such as nausea, due to persistent anxiety during sleep.
- At the thought of sleeping, chest tightness and increased heart rate in addition to other symptoms such as sweating, chills and hyperventilation.
- In children, crying and resistance or attachment at bedtime are common for not being left alone in the bedroom.
What are the causes of fear of sleep?
The fear of sleeping can be caused by different aspects, not be conclusive, and can be the result of previous events such as situations that have been a bad experience for the person.
In addition, as an aggravating factor, there may be the fact of a genetic predisposition to develop anxiety problems, but they are not decisive by themselves.
The main causes:
- Phobias often develop in childhood, so the reason for the fear may not be remembered.
- Fear of a negative event occurring at the time of falling asleep, such as a disaster in the house or a loved one.
- Trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder can contribute to nightmares and even fear of sleeping.
- Sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis and nightmare disorders (recurrent, vivid nightmares) can cause fear of sleep, over time, due to the bad experience and fear of reliving it.
How do I know if I suffer from somniphobia?
If you think you have somniphobia, it's best to see a doctor as soon as possible. He will be the one who will guide you in the steps to follow and will make a precise diagnosis, supported by the idea of proposing a process of improvement.
Also, in order to reduce some of the symptoms described above, you can consult your pharmacy about drugs containing doxylamine. This is effective in reducing sleep onset time, aiding sleep, and increasing sleep depth and duration. Dietary supplements containing melatonin can also be effective in these cases. In both cases, your pharmacist can advise you on its use.