Somniphobia: The fear of falling asleep

Somniphobia: The fear of falling asleep

The good news is that those suffering from Somniphobia need not suffer. They should seek help from a healthcare professional such as a neurologist or a psychiatrist.

On rare occasions, when you had an early morning flight, you may have wanted to stay awake the whole night than sleep and fear not waking up on time. Well, some are afraid of falling asleep. Sweaty forehead, clammy palms, racing heart— bedtime's scarier than a trip to the dentist. Welcome to the world of Somniphobia.

Thirty-one-year-old Basheer Ahmed (name changed) from Bengaluru hasn't been able to get back to his routine after Ramzan ended. Earlier, he was used to sleeping at 1 am and waking up at 8 am to report to work in an IT company. Ahmed is scared of falling asleep. Doctors have diagnosed him with Somniphobia, the fear of falling asleep.

Satadeepa Som, Consultant Psychologist in Bengaluru, who has been counselling Ahmed says that the phobia is considered a symptom of a more serious ailment in those with co-morbid conditions like Parkinson's, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Dementia, Depression, etc.

Dr Sudhir Kumar, Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, says that about 60 percent of the population suffers from sleep issues, but as part of his work, he meets at least two people with Somniphobia a month in Hyderabad itself. "It is a mental and psychiatric issue that is related to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain," he says.

The good news is that those suffering from Somniphobia need not suffer. They should seek help from a healthcare professional such as a neurologist or a psychiatrist. Initial treatment consists of counselling and cognitive behavior therapy. For severe cases, medical treatments are also available. The good news is that most people do fine and respond quite well to the treatment. Don't lose sleep oversleep!

Do You Have It?

The immediate symptoms of Somniphobia are extreme exhaustion throughout the day due to lack of sleep. However, apart from such physical symptoms, there are psychological symptoms as well.

● Shallow breathing

● Hyperventilation

● Chest pain

● Cold flush

● Tremors and shaking

● Nausea

● Vomiting

● Rapid heart rate

Apart from these, the psychological symptoms that one might have are:

● Anticipating destruction

● Detached feeling

● Anxiety and panic attacks.

● Sleep procrastination

● Avoiding bedtime

Coping with Somniphobia

Here are a few tips you can follow:

● Go to bed at the same time each night to maintain consistency.

● Consider physical activities and exercises. These can help get sleep at night because of the exertion.

● Avoid taking naps any other time of the day, or at least limit them as much possible.

● Reduce caffeine intake, as it can contribute to insomnia.

● Ensure a peaceful environment when sleeping at night. The room should be dark and isolated to avoid noise.

● Consider a calming ritual before sleeping, like meditation, reading or music therapy.

● Avoid overconsumption of alcohol, as it can also contribute to sleep disturbance.

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The New Indian Express
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