Fear of falling asleep (hypnophobia)

Hypnophobia is one of the most tormenting phobias that can afflict a person. It refers to the fear of sleep and falling asleep. Of ending up with the same bad nightmare again in the night, of the same thoughts over and over again that won’t let you sleep, or even of not waking up the next morning.

Phobias are anxiety disorders characterized by the individual experiencing an irrational fear of a stimulus or situation. In hypnophobia, the situation is sleeping, which sheerly takes away one’s mind. Anyone who has ever slept through the night knows how exhausting lack of sleep can be. This can be felt on all levels: the body aches, you can’t concentrate and continuously fall short of your own expectations, and even the smallest activity costs extreme energy. Body and mind are not quite up to par when sleep fails to come. Now, after a night of little sleep, a person without hypnophobia can often just crawl back into bed the following night, catch up on sleep, and be back to their old self. In hypnophobia patients, this state of insomnia can last for months and years.

How does it come to the fear of falling asleep?

Bedroom with an alarm clock on a side table

The fear of falling asleep can occur at any age. And like many other fears, the fear of falling asleep is conditioned. You may know the story of Pavlov’s dogs: the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov rang a bell for so long before feeding his dogs that the sound of the bell alone was enough to make the dog drool because it was used to getting food when the bell rang. It’s similar, though not quite as simple, with the fear of falling asleep. Patients have learned at some point that there is something negative associated with falling asleep. Nightmares, for example, that keep coming up. Or waking up drenched in sweat, for no apparent reason, but with a racing heart. The fact that you can’t just roll over and go back to sleep afterward is an experience most people will know well.

It becomes a disease when the nightmares or the jumping up occur more often, an expectation already sets in that this unpleasant situation will certainly occur again. At some point, one becomes so afraid of being exposed to this uncontrollable situation again and again that the body shifts to panic mode even thinking about going to sleep soon. If the sleep comes then, because one drives sometime the exhaustion to it, it is not restful, the next day becomes nevertheless again the torment.

What are the consequences of the phobia?

Fear prevents people from sleeping in peace. Many people tell that they have to manage with 3-5 hours of sleep per night. It is too little for most people in the long run. The efficiency decreases quickly, the health suffers. This mental and physical fatigue radiates into all details of life. Performing a job, family, close friendships, often there is not enough energy to leave the house to take care of oneself or other people. And no one understands the fear that almost takes away your mind.

How to overcome hypnophobia?

Overcoming it is not easy on your own. Today, it is almost impossible to escape the constant overstimulation, you can be constantly available and in many cases you have to be. But rarely at night. Switch off the laptop and the cell phone for dinner and take the time to read a book or browse through the record collection again. This reduces stress and what is stress reducing at the same time helps to cut down on anxiety. Medicine has not yet found a real way out of this disease. Even if sleeping pills can provide a brief moment of calm, anxiety is far from conquered. It rests level.

What does a treatment for phobius look like?

Phobius specializes in the treatment of hypnophobia, among other things. Through education about the psychological and physical processes as well as by means of innovative techniques we achieve that you go through your everyday life free of fear again. Parts of our treatment make use of the proven technique of confrontation with the fear-inducing stimulus – with the help of a virtual world. The big advantage: you are one hundred percent on safe ground and in good hands of our psychologists, who will guide you step by step out of the circling thoughts and fears.

In the course of the treatment, you will learn what exactly fear is, how it develops and why it has become a constant companion. You will also learn effective strategies of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with which your fear will soon be a thing of the past. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a therapy specifically suited for anxiety and requires your active cooperation. It works most effectively when it is tailored to your individual hypnophobia and when you practice the methods you learn on a regular basis. These include physical calming techniques, mental strategies and behavioral exercises to help you successfully address your hypnophobia.

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