Understanding the Fear Of Falling Asleep (Somniphobia)

Last Update on March 6, 2023 : Published on March 6, 2023
Understanding the Fear Of Falling Asleep

Have you ever had a bad dream and then were afraid to fall back asleep? Well, that’s how people with somniphobia (fear of sleep) feel on a daily basis. Somniphobia refers to the fear of falling asleep and it can be really fearful to live with such a phobia.

It is natural to find it difficult to fall asleep after you’ve experienced a traumatic event. The nightmares about the incident keep you awake; the moment you close your eyes you get flashes of all the horrific things you saw.

Similarly, when someone has a fear of falling asleep, all the things one is anxious about come back the moment they close their eyes. The fear is irrational because some of the things they are worried about are not likely to happen ever.

Want to know more about the fear of sleep?

What Is Somniphobia?


Somniphobia is known as the fear of falling asleep. Now, this fear stems from two things, your anxiety about the things that happened during the day and your anxiety about having nightmares or experiencing sleep paralysis, or not waking up the next morning (dying in sleep).

People who have somniphobia often try to stay awake as long as possible. They have an irrational fear of horrible things happening to them during sleep. Sleep is an essential part of our well-being and somniphobia makes it very difficult to lead a healthy life.

Imagine not being able to sleep just one night, the following day is a wreck. You can’t concentrate on work, you feel irritated, you experience physical pain, etc. Some people also complain of experiencing hallucinations and delusions when they are not able to sleep for a couple of days.

People with the fear of sleep, go without sleep for as long as it is possible for them, even if they fall asleep, their sleep is very disturbed because their anxiety doesn’t let the mind rest. An unrested and disturbed mind and body can invite N number of physical and mental health conditions.

Symptoms Of The Fear Of Falling Asleep (Somniphobia)

The fear of sleep is quite evident but sometimes it can be confused with sleep anxiety. Both Sleep anxiety and somniphobia include intense worry about sleep. However, in sleep anxiety one is anxious about how long it will take them to fall asleep. Whereas in somniphobia, you don’t want to fall asleep because all the things you’re worried about might happen when you sleep.

Let’s look at some symptoms of somniphobia so that it becomes easy for us to identify;

  • Don’t go to bed as long as they can
  • Increased irritability and mood swings
  • Keep the lights on or T.V. on when you are in bed
  • Reduced concentration and focus because of sleep-related worry
  • Hyperventilation when in bed
  • Chills and cold sweats

Symptoms of fear of falling asleep in children;

  • Tend to cling to parents/caregivers while sleep
  • Wake up multiple times while sleeping
  • Uncontrollable crying when in bed
  • Resist going to bed
  • Through tantrums when put to bed

What Causes The Fear Of Sleep?


Well, the exact cause of the fear of falling asleep is not known as of now. Experts are still studying the cause of somniphobia and so far the research about the cause of any kind of phobia has not been pinpointed yet.

However, there are a few factors that can contribute to the fear of sleep. Let’s have a look at them;

  • Anxiety about dying in sleep
  • Hallucinating about horrible things happening to them during sleep
  • Fear of nightmares
  • Fear of being paralyzed in sleep

The thoughts you have during the day about your fear of sleep can keep you awake for a long time. It can be the stress from all the situations you’ve been dealing with at the workplace or the difficulties you’re experiencing in balancing your relationships.

Experts also claim that some mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder can also be responsible for developing the fear of falling asleep.

How Is Somniphobia Treated?

Fortunately, psychiatric science has reached a stage where most anxiety-related disorders can not only be managed but treated well. There are various cases of phobias where people have returned to a healthy and happier life after treatment.

Similarly, people with somniphobia can also return to a normal and happy life after treatment. Let’s have a look at some treatment options for the fear of falling asleep;

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about the fear of falling asleep, somniphobia helpful, interesting, and thought-provoking. Do share this blog with your friends and family so that phobias like somniphobia can easily be identified and treated in time.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and sleep well.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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