Most of the people around us enjoy sleeping; for some, bedtime is their favorite time of the day. But there are a few who fear sleeping. There are people who are scared at the thought of falling asleep. This is known as somniphobia, a fear of sleep. Its more common than you think, and people who have it understand how drastically it affects their lives. If you or someone you know is experiencing somniphobia, you need not worry much; there are ways to manage it and get quality sleep at night.

What is Somniphobia?

Somniphobia is an excessive fear of sleep. People with somniphobia may stress or obsess throughout the day about how to prevent falling asleep and what will happen while they sleep. They may be concerned about what occurs if they fall asleep, such as nightmares, loss of control, or even death. This fear can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or avoiding sleep altogether.

Somniphobia is a specialized phobia. Certain phobias are strong fears associated with certain things, situations, or animals. Most people who have specific phobias understand that the anxiety they experience is exaggerated in comparison to the actual harm the fear represents.

What are the Symptoms of Somniphobia?

The primary symptom of somniphobia is severe distress while thinking about or attempting to sleep. You may:

  • Avoid going to bed as much as possible.
  • Feel agitated or experience mood swings.
  • When attempting to sleep, leave the lights or television turned on.
  • Sleep-related anxiety makes it difficult to concentrate during the day.

Phobias can sometimes result in bodily symptoms. In extreme cases, you can experience a panic attack. A panic attack is a quick and unexpected rise in anxiety that generates physical symptoms. You may experience:

  • Breathing problems or shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  • Chest ache or tightness.
  • Chills or a chilly sweat.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Uncontrolled trembling or tremors.

Causes of Somniphobia

Somniphobia can develop for various reasons, including:

  1. Traumatic Experiences: Previous traumatic events can trigger a fear of sleep. For example- if someone is having daily episodes of nightmares, sleep paralysis, or sleepwalking, they start to feel stressed and afraid to go to bed, as they think these things will happen again if they go to sleep.
  2. Anxiety Disorders: If someone is suffering from anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there are chances of developing somniphobia as a result of heightened anxiety.
  3. Fear of Loss of Control: It has been found that some people fear losing control of their body or their surroundings when they are sleeping, and this fear can lead to somniphobia.
  4. Other Mental Health Conditions: There are cases in which depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia are associated with somniphobia.

How Is Somniphobia Treated?

If you're struggling with somniphobia, here are some methods of treating your fear and getting better sleep:

  1. Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy is often the most successful phobia treatment. It involves working with a therapist to eventually become used to the fear. With somniphobia, you may picture enjoying a good night's sleep and gradually progressing to taking short naps.
  2. Cognitive behavioral Therapy (CBT): Talking about your fear with a therapist is part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify and overcome sleep-related concerns. Your therapist teaches you how to fight upsetting thoughts in order to alleviate anxious symptoms.
  3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): If your somniphobia is caused by trauma, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may be especially useful. EMDR involves remembering painful situations while being triggered by rhythmic movement. You may be able to handle trauma without feeling overwhelmed by memories.

How to Reduce Risk of Somniphobia?

There isn't a single strategy to prevent somniphobia. You can improve your odds of sleeping better by adopting healthy lifestyle choices. Your healthcare professional may refer to these routines as excellent sleep hygiene. You can do all these things to reduce the risk:

  • Avoid using tablets, smartphones, or televisions at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Consume a healthy diet and limit processed foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, as they might disrupt your sleep cycle.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark setting.


Remember, overcoming somniphobia takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. With the right support and strategies, you can learn to manage your fear of sleep and enjoy restful nights once again.

Always try to decorate your room with things that make you feel good. You can invest in good sleep accessories like a mattress and a good quality pillow. A memory foam pillow can work wonders for you. Memory foam pillows are effective at improving sleep quality and reducing snoring.