Too anxious to sleep
What is it, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
What is sleep anxiety?
Sleep anxiety is fear or worry about going to sleep. You may be apprehensive about not falling asleep or not being able to stay asleep. Some people also have a distinct phobia, or fear, about sleep called somniphobia. They may think something bad will happen to them while they sleep, or that they shouldn’t sleep because they need to stay alert and watchful.
Sleep and psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, often go hand in hand. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Similarly, if you have a sleep disorder, you might feel anxious or fearful before bed because you’re afraid you won’t get the rest you need. One condition usually makes the other worse, so it can feel like a never-ending cycle.
Who gets sleep anxiety?
Sleep anxiety can affect adults, teens and children. You may be more likely to develop anxiety at night if you have a sleep disorder such as:
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS).
- Sleep apnea.
People with the following mental health disorders may also develop nighttime anxiety:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Bipolar disorder.
- Drug addictions or alcoholism.
- Panic disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How common is sleep anxiety?
Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting about 40 million people. Research suggests that most people with mental health disorders such as anxiety also have some form of sleep disruption.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes sleep anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural part of being human. We’re meant to feel afraid or worried in dangerous situations. Stress and anxiety trigger our bodies to release hormones that help us react quickly to escape harm. But if you have chronic anxiety, you might feel stress or worry all the time. You may feel fearful of everyday situations like driving to work or even falling asleep.
Chronically high levels of these hormones, especially before sleep, can make it hard for your body to relax. You may have difficulty falling asleep. If you do fall asleep, you may wake up during the night with stressful or worrisome thoughts and not be able to fall asleep again.
The combination of a anxiety and insomnia can also be caused by a condition where there isn’t enough thyroid hormone in your bloodstream and your metabolism slows down (hypothyroidism).
Research suggests that anxiety can affect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the phase of sleep when you tend to have vivid dreams. If you have anxiety, the dreams may be disturbing or turn into nightmares that wake you.
Just as anxiety can affect sleep, sleep can affect anxiety. Sleep anxiety is a common characteristic of insomnia, wherein the individual begins to experience anxiety during the day and evening about poor sleep, which may help cause another night of bad sleep.
What are the symptoms of sleep anxiety?
When you can’t sleep due to anxiety, you may experience behavioral changes, including:
- Feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Sense of impending danger or doom.
Physical effects of anxiety before bed may include:
- Digestive problems.
- Fast heart rate.
- Rapid breathing.
- Tense muscles.
Some people also have nocturnal panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden, intense burst of extreme fear. Nocturnal panic attacks only happen at night, and often wake you from sleep.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is sleep anxiety diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider performs a physical exam, reviews your medical history and evaluates your symptoms. They may ask you questions like:
- Do you eat or drink anything before bed?
- Does your anxiety always occur before bed?
- How long does it take you to fall asleep?
- How often do you wake up during the night?
- What activities do you do before bed?
What tests help confirm a sleep anxiety diagnosis?
In some cases, your provider may do a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder. Also called polysomnography, a sleep study is a test where you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Your healthcare provider evaluates how your body works during sleep by checking your:
- Blood oxygen levels.
- Body positioning.
- Electrical activity in your brain.
- Eye movements.
- Heart rates and rhythms.
- Leg movements.
- Sleep stages.
- Snoring or other noises you make during sleep.
Management and Treatment
How is sleep anxiety treated?
There are a variety of ways to manage sleep anxiety, including:
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
- Healthy sleep habits (sleep hygiene).
How does cognitive behavioral therapy treat sleep anxiety?
CBT is a form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. It teaches you how to change your behavior by changing the way you think. It’s a common treatment for people with anxiety. A special form of CBT called cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBTI) focuses on helping people who have insomnia. This therapy can take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to produce results.
During CBT or CBTI, you may learn to:
- Avoid behaviors or environmental factors that trigger your anxiety or make sleeping difficult.
- Better understand how sleep and anxiety affect your brain and the rest of your body.
- Change negative or inaccurate thinking about bedtime or sleep.
Your therapist may teach you how to sleep with anxiety by using biofeedback. Biofeedback trains you to manage your body’s functions. You learn to relax your muscles, regulate your breathing, lower your heart rate and focus your attention. Your therapist might use special sensors to measure these bodily functions, or they may give you exercises, such as deep breathing and meditation, to do at home.
How can healthier sleep habits treat sleep anxiety?
Sleep habits, or sleep hygiene, are your routines around bedtime that can affect your sleep. Your healthcare provider may ask you to keep a sleep diary for several weeks. This is a daily log of your sleep habits. It can help identify things that might make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Some common ways to improve your sleep hygiene include:
- Avoid drinking lots of fluids before bed, especially alcohol.
- Do relaxing activities before bed, such as meditation or listening to soft, peaceful music.
- Don’t consume caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
- Don’t go to bed unless you feel sleepy.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, quiet and softly lit.
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex. For example, avoid watching television or doing work in bed.
- Set a goal of getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.
- Stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Try not to eat right before bedtime. If you’re hungry, have a light snack and not a big meal.
How can medication treat sleep anxiety?
Your healthcare provider may recommend medication to treat anxiety or other mental health disorders. Medication can also help improve the symptoms of sleep-related disorders such as restless legs syndrome or insomnia.
But some medications might actually increase your anxiety or make sleeping harder when you first start taking them. If you experience these side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. Many over-the-counter sleep aids can also be habit-forming. Don’t start any medication for anxiety or sleep without your healthcare provider’s supervision.
How can I prevent sleep anxiety?
You may be able to reduce your risk of sleep anxiety by:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Exercising regularly.
- Practicing good sleep hygiene.
- Taking medications for mental health disorders or sleep disorders as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Outlook / Prognosis
What’s the prognosis (outlook) for people with sleep anxiety?
Most people can successfully manage their sleep anxiety with the right treatments. But remember that some treatments, such as medication or CBT, can take time to be effective. Don’t stop treatment prematurely if you think it isn’t working.
Are there long-term complications of sleep anxiety?
Prolonged anxiety or lack of sleep can affect your body in many ways. Sleep anxiety puts you at a higher risk for the following long-term complications:
- Heart attack.
- Heart disease.
- Heart failure.
- High blood pressure.
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
How can I make living with sleep anxiety easier?
Anxiety or sleep problems can affect every aspect of your life, from your performance at work to your interactions with others. It may help to talk about your sleep anxiety with a therapist, co-workers, friends or loved ones. Support groups can also connect you to a community of people dealing with similar experiences.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sleep anxiety is a feeling of fear or stress about falling asleep or staying asleep. Sleep problems and mental health disorders such as anxiety are closely intertwined. One can often make the other worse, so it can feel like a never-ending cycle. But anxiety and sleep problems are both treatable. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and work together to build the right treatment plan. Common treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), good sleep hygiene and medication.
How to Sleep When Anxiety Is Keeping You Awake: 5 Tips
Anxiety at night is common. If you find it difficult to sleep, there are ways to manage anxiety and get a restful night’s sleep.
If you’re lying in bed feeling anxious, chances are you might have a hard time falling or staying asleep.
If this tossing and turning is becoming a nightly routine, you’re not alone. More than 40 million people in the United States have a long-term sleep disorder.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to feeling your best. But, when you’re begging your brain to stop fixating on unwanted thoughts, it can feel overwhelming and cause anxiety.
There are ways you can manage anxiety at night to help you get better rest.
Anxiety can be common at night because nighttime is the only time of day when things are quiet, the demands of the day start to slow down, and our opportunities to worry start to increase, says Annia Palacios, a licensed professional counselor in Texas and Florida.
“These ruminating thoughts contribute to difficulty falling and staying asleep,” she says.
Anxiety may play a major role in how well you sleep, according to a 2013 review of research. If you’re prone to anxiety, you may find it hard to sleep at night. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, you may start to get anxiety.
The research acknowledged that various studies found a bidirectional relationship between sleep and anxiety, which means either disorder can come first. However, more research is needed to verify this.
An older 2003 review of studies indicates that anxiety and sleep problems both contribute to one another, which in turn produces anxiety symptoms as well as sleep loss.
A more recent 2019 study found that people who have insomnia symptoms are vulnerable to anxiety during times of stress.
Sleep disturbances are often a symptom of many anxiety-related disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A 2020 review of studies on sleep disturbance in PTSD and anxiety disorders found that there’s a bidirectional connection between sleep problems and anxiety. This means that sleep disturbances can lead to anxiety, and anxiety can lead to sleep deprivation.
People who have an anxiety disorder often have constant sleep-wake difficulties, which can present in the form of insomnia.
An older 2003 review found that 24% to 36% of people with insomnia also experience anxiety.
To help you manage anxiety at night and sleep more soundly, there are a few things you can try before you go to bed:
- Control your breathing.
- Write down your worries.
- Maintain a nightly schedule.
- Try to focus your mental energy.
- Create a comfortable environment.
Control your breath
“One of the best ways to activate a sense of calm is through breathwork,” says Martamaria Hamilton, a licensed professional counselor and founder of TeleWellness Hub who lives in El Paso, Texas.
By controlling your breath, you’re activating the “rest and digest” response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response, Hamilton says.
“Breathwork, including diaphragmatic (belly) breathing, is one of the most important and impactful ways to activate the vagus nerve and trigger relaxation in the body, and quickly,” Hamilton explains.
Write down your worries
Palacios suggests writing down your worries before you get into bed each night. “Ruminating thoughts happen because we continue to go over and over things in our minds,” she says.
Writing down our worries and to-do’s can help free up some space in our minds, Palacios says.
“Writing one’s anxious thoughts down is an excellent way to disconnect from them,” says Po-Chang Hsu, a physician and medical content expert at SleepingOcean, a website that reviews sleep products. “Many people also find the process itself soothing, which may help them wind down and sleep better.”
You can try starting a nightly journal where you write down your thoughts each night before you go to sleep.
Maintain a bedtime routine
You can create good sleep habits by maintaining a regular sleep schedule. If you can, try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every night — even on the weekends.
“Try to avoid stimulating activities like watching TV and scrolling social media,” Palacios says, because “stimulation like TV and our phones can make it even harder to fall asleep.”
Also, try to avoid caffeine and nicotine. These are stimulants that can not only make you feel anxious but can also keep you awake.
You can try incorporating things into your routine that help you slow down, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music.
Try to focus your mental energy
In order to stop anxious and racing thoughts, try to focus your mental energy on something that you can imagine or something that you can see or hear in your bedroom, says Chloe Sica, a licensed psychologist in New Jersey and New York.
Sica suggests focusing on “the white noise of a sound machine or a visual image that you find soothing, such as the crashing waves on a beach or the wind blowing the trees.”
If you feel anxious or like you can’t sleep, try getting up and gently moving — such as walking around or stretching — until you feel tired. It’s important to avoid watching TV or using screens.
Create a comfortable sleep environment
Maintaining a comfortable sleep environment often means using your sleep space or bedroom only for rest and intimacy, such as sleep and sex. Try not to do things in your bedroom or bed that might shift your focus from rest, such as watching TV or working on a computer.
Try sleeping in a cool, dark space that’s free from any noises or distractions. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive, too.
Consider sleeping with a weighted blanket.
“Sleeping under a weighted blanket feels like a deep hug, which is incredibly relaxing for most people,” Hsu says. “This simple tool is proven to ease anxiety thanks to the deep pressure therapy such blankets provide.”
Treatment options are available for both insomnia and anxiety. These options include:
- Medication. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines (BZDs) can help treat anxiety and may address underlying causes of insomnia.
- Herbal remedies. Melatonin or valerian root may help.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help you change behaviors that keep you awake.
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and massage therapy can improve anxiety and sleep.
- Light therapy. Artificial light may help improve mood and quality of sleep.
- Sleep restraint. This therapy decreases the amount of time a person is in bed.
To treat both sleep problems and anxiety, healthcare professionals may recommend a combination of medication and therapy.
Anxiety at night is common because it’s the time of day when things start to slow down and get quiet. For some people, this is when worries increase.
Various studies have found a bidirectional relationship between sleep and anxiety, meaning they both contribute to one another.
If you’re prone to anxiety, you may find it difficult to sleep at night. And if you’re having a hard time sleeping, you may also get anxiety.
Studies have also found that if you have insomnia, you have an increased risk of having anxiety.
If you find it difficult to get sleep due to anxiety, you can:
- practice controlling your breathing
- write down your thoughts and worries
- create a nightly bedtime routine
- learn to focus your mental energy
- create a cozy, comfortable sleep environment
Anxiety at night is manageable and treatable. If you think you have an anxiety disorder or a sleep disorder, a mental health professional or a sleep clinic specialist can help you.
If you’re looking for a therapist but aren’t sure where to start, check out Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health support.
How to overcome the fear of sleep (somniphobia)?
Some people have a strong and deep fear of objects, beings, circumstances, events that others seem relatively harmless. For example, a person may be pathologically afraid of spiders, clowns, heights, or something else that in itself does not pose any threat and therefore does not cause unlimited, uncontrollable and unreasonable fear in other people.
Such strong fears of seemingly neutral objects or situations are called specific (isolated) phobias. Some of the specific phobias can significantly affect our daily life. One of them is somniphobia, it is also hypnophobia or clinophobia. People suffering from somniphobia are afraid to fall asleep - just the thought that they will have to sleep at night terrifies them. nine0003
The mere thought of sleep terrifies a person with somniphobia
If for most of us a cozy bed and a warm blanket is an opportunity to relax, get away from problems and fall asleep peacefully, then for those suffering from somniphobia, the upcoming night's rest is not a reward, but a punishment tantamount to execution. No wonder they are terrified of falling asleep. The result is a chronic lack of sleep, which negatively affects the quality of life, psyche and physical health - memory is disturbed, immunity weakens, weight increases, and a number of other serious problems arise. nine0003
Fear of sleep - what is it? How to understand that you have somniphobia and how it can be caused?
Fear of sleep - what is it?
A somniphobic sufferer experiences extreme anxiety at the mere thought of sleep. Since the process of going to sleep and sleep itself is associated with fear, stress, horror, such a person falls asleep with great difficulty, even if he is very tired. And if he still manages to get some sleep, the rest turns out to be fragmented and of poor quality.
A person cannot fall asleep, even if he is very tired nine0003
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms and manifestations of fear of sleep are usually divided into psychological and physical.
Psychological symptoms of somniphobia:
- Increasing distress as bedtime approaches.
- Feeling of anxiety and fear at the thought of sleep.
- Panic attacks occurring at the time when it is necessary to go to bed.
- Memory deterioration.
- Irritability or mood swings. nine0026
- Difficulty concentrating on anything other than worrying about sleep.
These obsessive thoughts and stressful conditions, combined with lack of sleep, have a strong negative effect on the body.
Physical symptoms of somniphobia:
- Nausea resulting from and against stress.
- Palpitations and oppression of the chest at the thought of sleep.
- Sweating, hyperventilation (rapid breathing) or chills at the thought of sleeping. nine0026
- Increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
- In children - crying, refusal to sleep.
- Chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
Daytime sleepiness and chronic fatigue are a consequence of chronic lack of sleep in somniphobia
Many of the above symptoms are very similar to those of panic disorder. The key difference between panic disorders and phobias is that panic disorders are not as closely related to a specific object or situation. Like the manifestations of any specific phobia, the symptoms of somniphobia appear only in a situation that causes fear, or when approaching it. nine0003
Why might a person be afraid to fall asleep?
Experts don't know exactly why people develop phobias. Including the mechanism of development of somniphobia is not completely clear.
Phobias in general are believed to arise from a combination of genetic and acquired factors. They usually develop during childhood. The likelihood of their occurrence may be higher if close family members also suffer from phobias - due to hereditary predisposition or due to common life experience. Phobias are more common in women and may exist alongside other anxiety disorders. nine0003
Most experts say that somniphobia is not related to sleep itself - a person is afraid of something that might happen during a night's rest. Fear of sleep and falling asleep can be caused by various factors and is often the result of the problems listed below.
Most of us sometimes have bad dreams, but some people have them quite often. Night terrors can feel so real that the person does not want to go to bed for fear of having similar dreams again. In particular, because of the fear of nightmares, children are often afraid to go to bed. nine0003
Nightmares often cause somniphobia in a child
Depression and anxiety
People who suffer from an anxiety or depressive disorder may also develop somniphobia. Such a person often experiences a general fear of sleep and at night, he may have difficulty falling asleep, nightmares. In the daytime, it is easier for him to switch from negative thoughts to solving work or household tasks, communication. There are fewer distractions at night than during the day, so his anxiety increases at night. nine0003
Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety at night
In addition, people with anxiety and depressive disorders often worry about the fact that they will not be able to control themselves during sleep.
Fear of sleep may develop after a psychotrauma. For example, after the death of a loved one, a physical attack, or any other experience that leads to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). nine0003
The tendency of people with PTSD to develop somniphobia has objective reasons - this disorder is often accompanied by nightmares, sleepwalking or other sleep disturbances, which may be accompanied by a general fear of sleep.
The loss of a loved one is a powerful psychotraumatic factor
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder often flare up at night - fear of recurrence of episodes of exacerbations and increased vulnerability due to lack of control over one's thoughts during sleep also become causes of hypnophobia. nine0003
Sleepwalking or somnambulism is the most common parasomnia, in which a person, continuing to sleep, gets up and walks. When traveling at night, somnambulists are not aware of their actions, so the disease is usually first detected by a family member, loved one, or even a random roommate (for example, in a sanatorium or hotel). When a sleepwalker learns about his problem, he usually feels embarrassed about what he did during sleep. He is also worried that this will happen again in the future. In this regard, a person suffering from sleepwalking is afraid to go to bed. nine0003
Sleepwalkers may develop somniphobia
Some somnambulists are injured during unconscious night wanderings, sometimes so severe that they have to be hospitalized. The fear of getting seriously injured can also develop into a fear of sleep, especially if a person lives alone.
Fear of death
Some people are afraid to fall asleep and never wake up again. Even in the absence of any reason whatsoever to die in a dream, the fear of death can cause somniphobia. nine0003
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you may also be afraid of dying at night. For example, sleep apnea sufferers sometimes have an unreasonable fear that their CPAP machine will fail, causing them to stop breathing and never resume.
A person with OSAS may be afraid that the CPAP machine will break, they will suffocate and die in their sleep.
Sleep paralysis is a sleep disorder in which a person wakes up and cannot move, as if paralyzed: the mind is awake, but the body is at rest and "does not obey the orders" of the brain. Although doctors emphasize that these episodes of immobility are harmless, they can be very frightening for people experiencing them. nine0003
In addition, such patients often report seeing or hearing strange, frightening hallucinations during an attack. It also provokes the appearance of fear before falling asleep, which can lead to the development of anxiety during sleep, awakening and fear of falling asleep again.
Sleep talk is common and usually harmless. When talking at night, people usually say something incomprehensible or meaningless. However, if you are keeping a secret or worrying about revealing something intimate while unconscious, this can lead to a phobia. nine0003
Watching a scary movie, especially before going to bed, can make your mind run through potential dangers that could happen during the night. These fears range from being attacked by fictional monsters to more realistic scenarios such as burglary.
Watching a horror movie at night is the path to somniphobia
Possible consequences of somniphobia
Like any other phobia, the fear of sleep affects the behavior and personality of a person, negatively affects his social activity. However, the effects of somniphobia are not limited to this. Chronic sleep deprivation significantly impairs quality of life by causing:
Daytime sleepiness . Not getting enough sleep at night, you will inevitably feel tired the next day, you will constantly be sleepy.
Chronic fatigue . The longer you live with this phobia, the more likely you are to develop chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mood swings . Lack of sleep negatively affects mood, making us irritable and quick-tempered.
Problems with memory, attention, coordination . Without proper sleep, the brain does not have time to process the information received and “place it on the shelves”. As a result, cognitive abilities are impaired, including memory impairment, the ability to perceive and analyze new information. In addition, dizziness and difficulty concentrating may occur.
Violation of attention and decreased reaction due to chronic sleep deprivation can provoke an accident
Not every phobia needs treatment, but they should be taken seriously. If you do not pay due attention to your unreasonable obsessive fears, they can limit your life, up to the development of extreme anxiety and deep depression. nine0003
It is especially important to get rid of a phobia if it leads to a lack of sleep. Sleep is vital for brain health, heart function, weight control, and lack of it can seriously affect your well-being. If you manage to take the right steps to overcome somniphobia and improve your sleep, this will ultimately lead to better overall health.
Mild somniphobia can be started with home treatments.
Improve your sleep hygiene
Your sleep problems may be due to poor sleep hygiene. Improve it by following simple rules:
- Always keep a schedule - go to bed at the same time. This will help your "internal clock" run smoothly and make it easier to fall asleep.
- Do not drink coffee before bed.
- Try to make your bedroom as comfortable and associated with sleep as possible. Remove all irritants from it - TV, computer, smartphone, other sources of noise, light, entertainment. Curtain the window with blackout curtains, change the uncomfortable bed and bedding. Adjust the air temperature - you should not be cold or hot. nine0026
- Try calming yourself before bed with a ritual such as drinking herbal tea, reading a book, or taking a bath.
Regular drinking of herbal tea before bed can help get rid of fear of sleep
Unfortunately, improving sleep hygiene alone is unlikely to cure somniphobia.
Avoid "treatment" with alcohol or drugs
Experts advise against overcoming the fear of falling asleep and sleeping with alcohol and drugs. Their effect is very short-lived, incomplete and incorrect. As a result, you will shave a bad habit, the problem will not go away, and your health will be undermined. nine0003
Keep a diary
Write down your dreams and feelings during sleep, as well as thoughts, feelings, and other factors that increase or decrease anxiety in a diary. This will help you find the sources of your fear and how to deal with them.
Write down your feelings before bed and during sleep in a diary - this will help to cope with a phobia
You are not alone
You may be ashamed of your phobia, feel like an outcast. It is important to remember that you are not alone. First, there are other people who, just like you, struggle with the fear of sleep. Second, a trusted friend or family member can be a great source of support if you tell them about your condition. nine0003
The support of a loved one can help reduce the fear of sleep
Use relaxation techniques
Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, or guided imagery can help relieve anxiety before bed.
- If you've tried to manage your sleep anxiety on your own and haven't gotten better, it may be time to seek professional help from your doctor. He will conduct the necessary diagnostics and determine how best to solve your problem. nine0130
Is there a cure for somniphobia?
There are no specific drugs for the treatment of phobias, but some drugs can reduce anxiety and improve sleep. As a rule, medication in the treatment of fear of sleep is combined with various psychotherapeutic methods.
Psychotherapeutic methods of dealing with fear of sleep
Exposure therapy . The principle “look into the eyes of your fear” is used - in a controlled environment, a situation is simulated that causes an attack of hypnophobia. The duration of this situation (exposure) is determined individually and can range from 40 to 90 minutes. The result of such long-term immersion in your fear under the supervision of a psychotherapist while working on reducing the level of anxiety is a gradual getting rid of the fear of sleep.
In the treatment of somniphobia, psychotherapeutic methods are used
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) . This psychotherapeutic technique focuses on changing the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Numerous studies show that, through the use of cognitive rewiring techniques (identifying unwanted thoughts, eliminating them, and generating beneficial ones) and changing behavior, CBT is effective in helping people reduce anxiety, fear, and panic. Although cognitive behavioral therapy is not a first-line treatment for specific phobias, it can be a safe and effective option for adults or children struggling with somniphobia. nine0003
Frequently asked questions
What causes somniphobia?
Like all other specific phobias, somniphobia is caused either by a genetic predisposition or by a traumatic “triggering” event.
Are sleep phobias related to insomnia?
Yes, these two phenomena are connected. Fear of sleep can lead to insomnia.
What causes untreated somniphobia and its consequence - lack of sleep?
Prolonged lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems, including increased risk of:
- heart attack;
Why am I afraid to sleep alone?
Perhaps this is due to the nightmares that haunt you at night. Or you may feel fear if you used to sleep with a partner, and now you have to sleep alone. Similar problems occur in people who are forced to fall asleep in a new place - the so-called "first night effect", when one half of the brain is resting, while the other "remains alert." nine0003
Do children have somniphobia and what can be done about it?
Children, like adults, may experience sleep anxiety, such as fear of the dark or imaginary monsters. Take action - make your child feel safe and secure:
- do not allow him to watch scary TV shows, cartoons and movies;
- read good bedtime stories to your baby;
- put a night light in the nursery with a soft, dim light or slightly open the door of the room to the illuminated corridor; nine0026
- Allow your child to sleep with something comfortable, soothing, such as a favorite soft toy.
If the problem persists, contact a child psychologist or psychotherapist.
The best time of the day Why insomnia occurs and how to deal with it: People: From life: Lenta.ru
It has long been known that healthy sleep is the basis of health and good mood. Regular lack of sleep and insomnia lead to a decrease in immunity, increased fatigue and depression. Lenta.ru, together with Beeline, studied the problem of insomnia and learned several ways to overcome it. Associate Professor of the Department of Nervous Diseases of the Sechenov Medical University, Head of the Department of Sleep Medicine, neurologist Mikhail Poluektov helped us to understand all the intricacies of this issue. nine0003
What is insomnia and where does it come from?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by a subjective feeling of insufficient or poor-quality sleep. The key is the subjective feeling. It happens that a person has a good dream, but he is still unhappy with it. Insomnia is a matter of a person's perception of their sleep. The cause of insomnia can be a true sleep disorder - not deep enough sleep, broken sleep with frequent awakenings, or when a person falls asleep for a long time. This is one problem. nine0003
Another problem is the perception of sleep. A person can perceive a good dream as a bad one. This is also insomnia. That is, there are two types of insomnia - mental and neurological. The most common cause of insomnia is stress. Statistics show that stress-related insomnia develops in a quarter of all people on the planet during the year.
And stress can be very different. Most often, its cause is interpersonal communication: a person quarreled with someone and cannot sleep because he thinks about it. There is stress associated with heavy workloads. Even completing a long-term work assignment is stressful. There is stress associated with a change in normal living conditions, moving to a new place, a change in the environment. And, of course, the most painful stress is associated with loved ones: a change in marital status, illness of a close family member. This kind of stress is often accompanied by sleep disturbances. nine0003
Photo: Plainpicture RM / Kniel Synnatzschke / Diomedia
If stress isn't the cause, it's likely that insomnia is caused by an illness. However, usually against the background of infectious diseases, sleep improves. The product of the immune response to external infectious agents has a hypnotic effect. But there are times when sleep, on the contrary, is disturbed. For example, against the background of diseases of the joints, heart disease, stomach.
How to deal with insomnia?
Sleeping pills help in most cases. But we must remember that there is no such medicine that would be one hundred percent effective. Before offering a new drug to the public, it is necessary to prove not that it works 100%, but that its effect exceeds that of a placebo, a pacifier. If a particular sleeping pill doesn't work for you, it probably isn't right for you. Treatment is an individual matter. nine0003
However, one should not think that insomnia can be treated only with chemo. The main cause of insomnia (non-stress, and chronic - one that, for some unknown reason, continues, even if the stress has long ended) is psychology. The man is obsessed with his problem. He begins to worry about his dream. During the day, when he does not need to sleep, he does not think about sleep, he is calm. And in the evening, when he needs to fall asleep, he starts winding up: yesterday I didn’t sleep, the day before yesterday I didn’t sleep, today suddenly I won’t fall asleep again? nine0003
This makes him overexcited and does not really fall asleep. Psychological techniques are used to treat this type of insomnia. The current leader is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is not hypnosis, but a special form of psychotherapy, when a person is explained in what he behaves correctly and in what he does not. His behavior is modified in such a way as to achieve step by step improvement in sleep. This is a complex, painstaking work that stretches over six weeks.
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Worldwide, this therapy is the number one treatment for insomnia. In Russia, this method is practically not used, since it is laborious and requires specially trained specialists. In Russia, work in this direction was carried out only by specialists from the First Medical Institute: they conducted an experiment, defended a dissertation. Now the institute’s employees are preparing an online version of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which allows this treatment to be carried out situationally. However, there are several ways to improve sleep. nine0003
How we fought insomnia
Photo: Westend61 / Diomedia
Christine, our editorial staff, is 24 years old and has been plagued with sleep problems almost all her life. “From early childhood, I plagued my parents every night with tears, because I could not sleep for hours. Daytime sleep was then a great rarity for me, and now it’s generally something from the realm of fantasy. Later, as a teenager, I often went on trips with classmates, where we lived in rooms of four or six people. Then I noticed that all the guys in neighboring beds fall asleep within a few minutes after lights out, while I still have no eyes, ”says the girl. nine0003
She always needed at least an hour to fall asleep, complete darkness in the room, silence and no one else in bed.
“In the summer, if I couldn't fall asleep before dawn, I had to get up at four in the morning, because there was no point in trying to fall asleep. And sometimes, even if I woke up with a feeling of a severe lack of sleep, by the evening it passed and cheerfulness appeared. Sleeping pills, by the way, never helped. At some point, I realized that I was focusing too much on the problem. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep for a long time, and when I finally start to turn off, I catch myself thinking that I’m falling asleep, and the dream immediately disappears. ” nine0003
With this problem, we turned to the somnologist Mikhail Poluektov.
The first and most important thing in improving sleep is keeping it hygienic. Very often, the cause of insomnia is an elementary violation of the organization of sleep. This is typical for teenagers who play the computer at night and cannot get up in the morning, and for older people who do not have a rigid work schedule, they lie in bed for many hours, take a nap during the day and wonder why they do not sleep well in the evening. Therefore, you should always start with resolving the issue of hygiene and sleep patterns. nine0003
There is an unspoken set of rules for sleep hygiene:
— you need to fix the time of going to bed and the time of getting up so that a conditioned reflex is formed so that the brain prepares for relaxation by a certain time;
- sleeping conditions should be comfortable, should not be too light, noisy, you need a comfortable bed and blanket;
- before going to bed you need to limit mental and physical activity. A common mistake is watching TV or reading a book in bed. As soon as a person goes to bed, he should have a reflex to fall asleep. When people get into bed and start having fun, the brain continues to function actively; nine0003
- create a bedtime ritual - for example, drink herbal tea before going to bed. Despite the fact that valerian is only slightly more effective than placebo, and its effect is actually expressed in a few minutes, the process of drinking such tea in itself sets a person up for relaxation.
Photo: Onoky / Fabrice Lerouge / Diomedia
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Kristina took the advice of a specialist and told us about the course of the experiment.
What I will do: First of all, I decided to try changing my regimen. Starting today, I will start going to bed at midnight sharp so that I have eight full hours of sleep before the alarm goes off (every day I get up at eight in the morning). Also - almost for the first time in my life - I will not read before bed.
What happened: I couldn't fall asleep for a long time. The brain refused to shut down so early. After lying in bed for about an hour, I turned on the light and still read for half an hour. After that, I made a second attempt to fall asleep, which I managed to do after 40 minutes (about two in the morning). The next day I felt tired and could not wait for the evening to go to bed as soon as possible. However, as it always happens, it was at night that I felt a surge of strength. nine0003
What I will do: On Tuesdays after work, I usually go to the gym, which ends at eight in the evening. But this week, as an experiment, I will forego evening classes. Before going to bed, on the advice of a somnologist, I will make chamomile tea and go back to bed at exactly midnight.
What happened: all night I tossed and turned in bed without sleep. I managed to switch off for a while a couple of hours before getting up, but this dream was superficial, shallow. As a result, I got up with a wild headache and felt very tired during the day. nine0003
What I will do: today I will try to go to bed early so that if I fall asleep for a long time I will have more time to sleep.
What happened: I ventilated the room, at 11:00 pm I put down my mobile phone, closed the book and turned off the light. Despite my best efforts, I was again attacked by insomnia. After a difficult last night, I was tormented by thoughts that the experiment was a failure, and my problems simply could not be solved. I only managed to fall asleep at dawn. And the next day I had another headache. nine0003
What I will do: instead of working out, I will take a walk after work to get some fresh air and calm down before going to bed. After that, I will drink herbal tea and go to bed again at 23:00.
What happened: in principle, I managed to fall asleep quickly - in about an hour and a half. I slept for about eight hours and got up quite easily. During the day, I felt great.
What I will do: Since - to my surprise - the trick worked, I decided to repeat it again the next day. Before going to bed, I went for a short walk and went to bed at the same time. I noticed that my body began to get used to the new schedule, and by the night I was really sleepy. nine0003
What happened: The unthinkable happened today: I fell asleep in less than an hour. The adjusted daily routine worked in the end.
What I'll do: On weekends, I'll let myself sleep in, so I'll set my alarm for 10 am.
What happened: on Friday I didn't manage to go to bed at 23:00, but at midnight I was in bed. I quickly passed out again. This probably happened because I was inspired by the success of the previous two days and did not think about the upcoming early rise. In the morning I realized that for the first time in a week I slept one hundred percent. nine0003
What I will do: before the start of the working week, I need to repeat the ritual that the somnologist advised and force myself to go to bed at 23:00 without reading.
What happened: I fell asleep longer than on the previous days, but at about half past one in the night I was already asleep. I woke up on Monday a little harder than the day before, but my head was fresh, and in general I felt rested.
How do you know if you have trouble sleeping?
Photo: Westend61 RF / zerocreatives / Diomedia
It is normal to fall asleep within 30 minutes. If a person falls asleep in 30 minutes, he has no problems with sleep. More than that, he's in trouble. But there is another criterion that determines the presence of a sleep disorder - how often insomnia occurs. Three or more nights per week is considered a violation. If a person sleeps poorly twice a week, he does not have a sleep disorder; if three, there is a disorder.