As humans, our bodies undergo a wide variety of physical punishment. Each day can be grueling and take a considerable toll on our body, mind and spirit. The best way to combat this? A good night’s sleep. Sleep allows us to refresh ourselves for each day and recharge our physical batteries so we can continue to lead healthy, happy lives. A fear of sleep, often called Somniphobia, will generally lead to a lack of sleep that will eventually cause us a costly decline in our physical and mental state.
Symptoms of Somniphobia
There are many symptoms that can be associated with a fear of sleep, some of them are commonly physically induced by a somniphobic person. These symptoms will gradually worsen over time and cause a serious negative impact on mental and physical health, as sometimes sleep will be avoided completely. Symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Excessive fatigue due to improper or total lack of sleep
- Lowered immune system from a lack of sleep
- Mood swings or irritability
- Reduced awareness or inability to focus
- Panic Attacks
- Trouble making both long term and short term memories
Most of these symptoms are due to an individual’s lack of sleep, as the individual will likely be unable to sleep throughout the whole night or avoid sleeping altogether. A somniphobic person will often begin to feel the greatest anxiety around later hours, where they begin to feel tired and know that sleep will soon be inevitable. If untreated, symptoms will gradually worsen over time as sleep levels begin to drop off and the fear continues to manifest itself. Once sleep becomes continually ignored, a person may become delirious and nearly unable to function as they normally would. This will create an inability to perform adequately at a job or in many social situations, which will begin to deteriorate many of their meaningful relationships.
Causes of Somniphobia
The two most common causes for somniphobia include the fear of having nightmares or a triggering event related to sleep which serves as a catalyst for extreme anxiety. Individuals that are afraid of suffering through another sleep with nightmares are encouraged to seek out common psychological treatment options. During treatment, they are forced to confront their fears and understand more about what may be causing them nightmares. They may also be further educated on the dream process and understand that their dreams cannot affect them physically in their lives and may be just created by random mental imagery. On average, once a person is awake they are only able to recall 50 percent of their dream and forget another 40 percent of details after 10 minutes of consciousness.
Sleep is an essential part of maintaining a happy, healthy lifestyle. A lack of sleep is sure to begin negatively impacting your personal life and social relationships. If you feel like somniphobia is holding you back, it may be time to seek out professional treatment options. A positive internal motivation for change is the most useful tool in overcoming your fear of sleep and it is never too late to begin treatment.
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