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Fear of falling asleep: causes, symptoms and remedies of somniphobia

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Fear of falling asleep is a rare condition that causes anxiety and agitation right before bedtime. Let’s find out what it is and what the remedies are.

Fear of sleep, also known as somniphobia or clinophobia, is one of many sleep-related disorders. Just like insomnia or nocturnal spasms, this condition also causes serious repercussions on the mental and physical balance of the individual. In fact, failing to sleep, the body is no longer able to rest and store the energy necessary to face the day. So let’s try to understand in detail what it is and how it is possible to cure this condition.

Fear of sleep: causes and diagnosis

When we hear about fear of sleep, we refer to a particular condition for which the individual experiences anxiety and agitation before going to bed. In some cases, somnophobia is a consequence of other sleep disorders such as insomnia . Such as sleep paralysis, which occurs when you wake up with muscle paralysis that prevents movement.

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In other cases, however, the fear of sleeping can be caused by particularly troubled nightmares that trigger anxiety in the individual even during the day. The anxiety linked to the nightmare therefore becomes a fixed thought, which pushes those suffering from clinophobia to not want to sleep to avoid facing the nightmare again. In other cases, the fear of sleep and nightmares could be the consequence of a post-traumatic disorder, such as witnessing a crime or an accident.

Finally, one of the most common causes of somnophobia is the excessive, albeit unlikely, concern that some malicious person might enter the house during the night. However, it should be emphasized that disorders such as fear of sleep develop mainly in childhood , so it could be difficult to trace the primary cause of this condition. In any case, however, somnophobia can be diagnosed by consulting a psychologist or a psychotherapist, who will try to identify the disorder through alarm bells such as:

-duration of the problem exceeding three months
-decrease in quality and quantity of sleep
– onset of anxiety and distress
– problems in social or professional relationships

Fear of sleep: symptoms

Now that we understand the underlying causes of the fear of sleep, let’s try to understand what are the symptoms associated with this disorder. Specifically, somnophobia presents itself with a feeling of anxiety and anguish when the time to go to bed approaches.

But panic attacks, problems with concentration and memory, and mood swings, linked to little rest are also very common. Obviously, however, even if you suffer from this disorder, our body tries to react also from a physical point of view. In particular, the following may occur:

-tachycardia and increased blood pressure
– nausea and gastrointestinal problems
-plants and crises, typical especially for children

In some cases it may happen that sufferers somnofobia try to numb with alcohol or drugs to avoid fear and anxiety, while others keep the TV and lights on all night.

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Fear of sleep: remedies and solutions

As we have understood, even if you suffer from a fear of sleeping, you cannot avoid going to rest , otherwise the whole organism could be seriously affected.

In general, to resolve this condition, we try, through psychotherapy, to identify the trauma or the triggering cause of the disorder. However, when this is not possible, a treatment called exposure therapy is used. It is a technique whereby the patient is repeatedly exposed to the stimuli that cause him fear, pushing him to overcome it.

This therapy is one of the most used to solve other anxiety states, which is why it is particularly effective against the fear of sleeping. Specifically, relaxation and image viewing techniques are used, or the patient is made to sleep under observation.

Very often, after realizing that they are not alone in the room, patients manage to fall asleep and can then replicate the same conditions at home, perhaps asking for help from a friend or family member. In other cases, sleep denial is imposed, which is a restriction that allows you to sleep only at certain times.

This helps the body to regain psychophysical balance and the right alternation between rest and wakefulness. Another therapy used to treat the fear of sleep is the cognitive one, which is more effective if the triggers of the anxiety are known. Through a series of sessions the specialist helps the individual to modify negative thoughts, so as to no longer suffer anxiety and fear.

In any case, however, we remember that if you suffer from fear of sleep you must avoid do-it-yourself remedies and it is essential to contact a specialized doctor , perhaps even a therapist. In fact, only professionals are able to diagnose the disorder and to intervene effectively.

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