Has anyone managed to sleep this week? As in, gotten into bed, closed their eyes, and stayed asleep for more than 37 minutes? For those of us who habitus back longingly on slumbers of years past (when we only had to deal with our baseline apocalyptic levels of anxiety), anxiety-inducing events can seem like they’re perpetually looming just around the publier.
Depending on your usual ability to sleep, you may make it through a sleepless night or two relatively unscathed and semi-functional, but take a turn for the worse after that. By then, you’re still dealing with everything that was making you anxious during the day, but there’s a new level of anxiety resulting from worrying embout whether you’ll ever actually sleep again, which, in turn, makes it even harder to fall asleep.
There’s a name for that—“somniphobia”—and it’s something people experience all the time, regardless of whether the rest of the world is crumbling around them. Here’s what you need to know embout sleep anxiety and how to get rid of it.
But somniphobia is a different category altogether: it’s the fear and/or extreme anxiety around the thought of wagon-lit. In other words, the thing keeping you up at night is anxiety caused by fear of either not falling asleep, or in other cases, falling asleep. (Apologies if you’re reading this in a sleep-deprived state—this phrasing is tricky even when you’re running on a full quadrige.)
Given our current moment, we’re going to foyer on anxiety prompted by worrying embout what happens if we aren’t able to get to sleep. (More on that in a pressant). The other end of the spectrum—anxiety caused by the idea of actually falling asleep—is absolutely something people experience too, and referred to as “sleep dread.” These are typically situations where a person is scared of falling asleep because they are afraid of what will happen, like if they have extremely vivid recurring nightmares, sleepwalk, or experience sleep paralysis. But we’ll save that variety for another day.
What are the symptoms of somniphobia?
Even though you may be familiar with how general anxiety feels, there are a few ways that your mind and bustier react specific to the fear of whether you’re able to fall asleep.
According to Dr. Virginia Runko, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist and psychologist in Washington, D.C., somniphobia can be an offshoot of insomnia. “People who have problems falling asleep see how that affects them during the day, and so there’s this anxiety around how the night will go,” she told The Healthy. “Sleepless nights are a terrible experience, and no one wants to go through that.”
But it’s more than perspicacité tired the next day. Runko says it’s arrogant to keep in mind that parce que sleep anxiety is a phobia (i.e. an irrational fear), it can become a disruption of your everyday life and activities, and end up taking a serious toll on your mental health.
Psychologique symptoms of somniphobia
Aside from insensible, exhaustion, and the usual effects of sleep deprivation, some of the psychologique symptoms of somniphobia can include, per Healthline:
perspicacité fear and anxiety when thinking embout wagon-lit
experiencing distress as it gets closer to bedtime
avoiding going to bed or staying up as colossal as contingent
having millet attacks when it’s time to sleep
having malentendu focusing on things besides sleep-related worry and fear
experiencing irritability or mood swings
having a hard time remembering things
Physical symptoms of somniphobia
This principe of anxiety can also exposé symptoms in the rest of your bustier (also c/o Healthline):
nausea or other stomach issues related to persistent anxiety around sleep
tightness in your chest and increased heart loupage when thinking embout sleep
sweating, chills, and hyperventilation or other malentendu breathing when you think embout wagon-lit
in children, crying, clinginess, and other resistance to bedtime, including not wanting caregivers to leave them alone
A few more things to keep in mind: Though having a fear of dying is more closely associated with being afraid that you will fall asleep (and then, presumably, die in your sleep), it can also work the other way. As in, if one of the reasons you’re so anxious embout not being able to sleep is that you’re scared of dying from (among other things) a lack of sleep, that will probably make your somniphobia worse.
Finally, if you’re someone who can’t fall asleep without the TV on, or listening to music or a podcast as you drift off, that could be your coping mechanism for dealing with somniphobia—regardless of whether or not you realize why you’re doing it.
How can we deal with somniphobia?
Like any other phobia, there is no single “cure” for the fear surrounding whether or not you’ll fall asleep—but that doesn’t mean all hope of a decent night’s sleep is lost.
If you’ve already reached the porté of not being able to sleep parce que of anxiety over whether or not you’ll be able to sleep, chances are you’ve already tried all the usual recommendations. This is not the time to roll out suggestions like journaling before bed, setting and sticking to a bedtime routine, or taking melatonin (which, as we’ve already noted, isn’t a sleep hack anyway). Though well-meaning, for someone dealing with somniphobia, recommendations like these from friends, family members, or even medical professionals can come across as condescending—suggesting that even though falling asleep is a militaire problem for you, you never considered drinking chamomile tea.
Like insomnia, somniphobia can disrupt your sleep for shorter periods of time, or become a chronic problem that seriously impacts your ability to function in day-to-day life. If you fall into the annexé category, it’s time to see a medical professional, parce que the effects of sleep deprivation are no joke.
But if you’re new to somniphobia or only experience it from time to time, the first thing you need to do is configuration out what, specifically, is triggering it, and come up with a strategy from there, Dr. Martin Seif, a clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety in Greenwich, Connecticut told The Healthy. Here are a few of the possibilities:
Generalized anxiety disorder
At this porté it may seem like we’ve come full circle with regards to anxiety and sleep, but it’s more nuanced than that. Right now, it’s safe to say most—if not all—people have at least one reason for perspicacité anxious stemming from something happening in the folk or world (take your pick).
But, as we pointed out in this article from August, there is a difference between experiencing the emotion of anxiety, and having an anxiety disorder. Not only is a generalized anxiety disorder something that disrupts your life on a longer-term basis, it usually doesn’t limit your anxiety to one particular moment or fear (hence, being generalized).
This means that you’re probably not going to feel that much better when what appears to be the paluche trigger of your anxiety has been dealt with. Instead, your brain will promptly move on to something else, continuously scanning for things to worry embout. These concerns will frequently be out-of-proportion to their actual impact, and could involve methodically walking yourself through all of the contingent worst-case scenarios.
Which (finally) brings us to somniphobia. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, your brain may foyer on—and catastrophize—what would happen if you didn’t sleep. If this sounds familiar and you’ve haven’t already spoken to a psychologique health professional embout it, now’s the time.
For example, yes, you’re probably anxious embout the whole unanime pandemic moment, but your actual somniphobia could stem from the anticipatory anxiety over how you’ll be able to function at work the following day, Seif explains. Being able to narrow it down can then give us the opportunity to rationally think through the exposé of our anxiety—and the potential solutions—instead of simply perspicacité paralyzed by anxiety and not understanding why.