Fear of falling asleep – causes & treatment

Falling asleep is a challenge for many people. Millions of people in Germany suffer from insomnia .

It is particularly bad when there is a real fear of falling asleep . This anxiety disorder is known as hypnophobia . Associated with this is an anxiety related to sleep and falling asleep.

What exactly those affected are afraid of varies. While some are exposed to the same nightmares over and over again, others are afraid of not waking up.

As with all phobias, hypnophobia stems from an irrational fear . The reasons may be irrational, but the effects are real. If you are afraid of falling asleep, you can no longer sleep peacefully at night. There is a constant lack of sleep and the quality of life decreases significantly.

Find out what causes the fear of falling asleep and what treatment options are available.

The anxiety disorder can occur at any age . Be it children who had a nightmare last night and are now afraid of such a negative experience again. But hypnophobia also occurs in adulthood.

The trigger is usually a negative experience associated with sleep. Unlike the fear of spiders or other animals, hypnophobia is rarely congenital. It is more likely to be conditioned and reinforced in the subconscious.

The cause could be a nightmare that was so intense that those affected woke up bathed in sweat at night. The fear of another nightmare is so great that sleep is best avoided altogether. The negative thoughts solidify and the anxiety disorder occurs.

Adults can handle these experiences better than children. Therefore, the risk for children to suffer from hypnophobia is particularly high . In connection with sleep, fear of the dark could also play a role. If the children’s room is not set up in a child-friendly manner, the anxiety disorder can manifest itself. Then every night going to bed becomes a struggle and the child does not want to fall asleep.

In most cases, there is a specific trigger for the fear of falling asleep . This can be a nightmare , but it can also be short of breath at night or a racing heart . The event was so memorable that the mere thought of it causes panic. Since the experience is closely related to sleep, a fear of falling asleep arises.


The sleep is vital for humans. Prolonged sleep deprivation often ends in death. Insufficient sleep does not lead directly to death, but consciousness is so severely restricted that accidents are inevitable.

For most people, 6 to 8 hours of sleep is considered necessary to replenish energy reserves. Only after a good night’s sleep will you feel alert and be able to cope with everyday life.

Anyone who suffers from hypnophobia can hardly achieve such a sleep duration. Those affected get a maximum of 5 hours of sleep per night More often, however, you are within a range of around 3 hours of sleep at night.

This leads to the typical symptoms of a sleep disorder . Both mental and physical abilities clearly suffer from the lack of sleep.

It is difficult to concentrate and solve a demanding task. This means that it is hardly possible to carry out a job. Stress is also insufficiently processed and irritability occurs. Affected people are emotionally unbalanced and fatigue determines life.

You can physically feel that the immune system is less efficient . Illnesses occur more often and the regeneration of the body is limited. The sensation of pain is more intense, so that complaints are perceived more strongly.

All in all , this means that a normal life is no longer possible for those affected . You spend most of your time at home and have no energy to follow a regular daily routine.


The fear of falling asleep should not be confused with the nighttime fear. In the latter, panic attacks occur in deep sleep . Sometimes people start talking or screaming during the attack. Also, people often sit up in bed and move their arms.

Children are often affected by this night terror . Parents should have a calming effect in this case. Singing a song or talking softly looks familiar. Children find their way back to sleep and usually cannot remember this panic attack the next morning.

So this experience is scary at the moment, but it rarely has long-term effects. The nocturnal anxiety attacks decrease with increasing age and you will find your way back to normal sleep behavior. This makes it a form of sleep disturbance, but it must be clearly differentiated from hypnophobia.


First of all, it should be said that those suffering from this phobia should seek professional help . Only with the help of therapy can the fear be overcome and the night can be spent in peace again. Preparatory measures can also be taken independently to promote sleep.


The term sleep hygiene summarizes some basic rules that ensure better sleep . This includes the fact that the smartphone and work on the computer are taboo in the evening. The bluish light disrupts the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and induces a higher state of wakefulness.

The bedroom should also not be used as a workplace . Rather, the room serves as a place of retreat and a feel-good oasis.


With relaxation in the evening you can find your way to sleep more easily

It is also important that stress is avoided . Stress puts the mind and body in a state of alarm . The heart beats faster and it is hardly possible to find the necessary rest.

Sufferers should use various techniques to reduce stress. This can be, for example, meditation , a warm foot bath or reading a relaxed book.


Some sufferers seem to find the solution in sleeping pills . While sleeping pills help you fall asleep for a short time, they do not improve the quality of sleep. After using the sleeping pills, tiredness occurs the next morning, even if enough sleep has been achieved. Sleeping pills can only help you to sleep briefly. It does not solve the basic fear of sleeping.


Instead of taking sleeping pills or drowning anxiety in alcohol, one positive way to overcome anxiety is to find sleep rituals. Affected people should spend the evening relaxing and feeling good. Negative thoughts take a back seat and positive associations are awakened with sleep.

Listening to a quiet podcast or guided mediation is ideal as a bedtime ritual . These aids support the internal clock and improve falling asleep .


Those who constantly suffer from the fear of falling asleep will hardly be able to lead a normal life. Every evening fear comes to the fore and prevents restful sleep. As a form of insomnia , sufferers only get a few hours of sleep and struggle not only with the anxiety but also with the symptoms of lack of sleep .

No matter whether these fears occur in children or adults. In any case, they should be taken seriously. Professional treatment is needed to help overcome this anxiety disorder and to follow normal sleep patterns.

The fear of falling asleep is a recognized anxiety disorder and is associated with severe physical and psychological complaints. The doctor is the first port of call to address these fears.

Jamie Clark

Hello, I’m Jamie Clark, 32 years old, and I have been living in the USA for a few years.
Since I was a child, I have suffered from a house dust allergy, severely affecting me. I felt the effects both while exercising and while sleeping. Constant sneezing after getting up and difficult breathing were the consequences. The allergy has also developed into asthma, which is still a sporting restriction today.

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