Adapted from the Psych2go website, fear of sleep is known as somniphobia (or hypnophobia), and is generally associated with anxiety or depression. This phobia is usually triggered by the mind as a protective mechanism and there is the possibility of investigating sleep-related trauma.
For example, sleeping through a traumatic event such as the death of a family member or even waking up in a fire. The subconscious mind attaches emotion to the situation, so depending on the events experienced, the response of each individual to the phobia is not the same. There are a number of people who experience it continuously, some respond to a particular stimulation.
The story of J.
On the official website, Vice, J. (pseudonym) one who suffers from somniphobia, tells his personal experience with this phobia. Starting from a bad experience to treat his remains injury (injury on the brain that causes dizziness and loss of balance), the doctor considered him to have a problem of “mania” or something “invented”. J. also received conflicting diagnoses that ultimately made him believe that something will happen to him at any time.
“I suffer from permanent dizziness, vertigo, and severe headaches, in addition to sleep problems. Gradually, my fear increases. I began to fear sleep and starting to think that I was suffering from a serious illness,” he said in his interview with Vice.
Somniphobia does not mean that one person does not sleep at all. J. usually sleeps between three and five hours and it’s because of the panic attacks he experienced as he’s preparing himself to sleep. His body triggered panic attacks and choking to prevent him from falling asleep. “You feel helpless (in the situation). Your subconscious dominates you,” he said.
Because of this phobia, J. claimed to have no social life at all. Even a lot of people identified somniphobia with madness. This certainly worsens the situation with self-isolation, distrust, and the emergence of other pathologies of mental health problems. J. suggested giving support to somniphobia sufferers, and regarding the phobia itself, J. hoped there would be more research in order to find a solution.
If J. experiences panic attacks, not all people suffering from somniphobia experience the same thing. However, symptoms that usually arise include nausea, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sweating, feeling scared. This depends on the condition of the sufferer.
Through its website, The Huffington Post provides five tips to help treat people with somniphobia. These five tips were according to Kenneth C. Anderson, M.D. a specialist in pulmonary and sleep medicines, a doctor at the Sleep Disorders Center at the East Baptist Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Identify the basic symptoms. This means understanding if you wake up panting, are you afraid to sleep again, or what causes it.
- Make sure that it’s not insomnia. Psychologically, insomniacs have trouble sleeping and are not afraid to sleep. So it’s important to really make sure between the two.
- Look for professional evaluations. Because somniphobia is a symptom of something else that is happening, dr. Anderson recommends seeing a doctor for sleep evaluation to get treatment, so that sufferer can get used to sleeping again.
- Create a conducive sleep atmosphere. It is important to make your bedroom distraction-free. Stress from work and electronic devices are two factors that trigger sleep difficulties. The simple thing that can be done is to not have your office in the bedroom, and also not allowing any television in the bedroom is a wise decision. Always keep in mind that the bedroom is for sleeping only.
- Our body needs to adjust to our daily routines. So setting sleep patterns and have routines is advisable for the body to understand when it’s time to sleep.