What's Under Your Pillow?

Somniphobia - The fear of sleeping?

Now here is something one wouldn't consider a topic of conversation for people looking for insomnia cures. After all, insomniacs are not afraid of sleep, we desperately crave it, yes?

Many people who suffer from a continual lack of sleep can develop some form of somniphobia, or the fear of sleeping. Perhaps we're not afraid of sleep in the traditional sense of the word somniphobia - but due to the dread and anxiety we know will come when it's time to sleep we can develop a fear of what will happen from our efforts. What we actually fear is the pain of anxiety and frustration from our insomnia.

What happens to most of us sleep challenged folk when it's time to turn off the lights and seek the restorative work of nature? Well, in some cases we instantly feel anxiety over the possibility of not falling asleep, and our minds race with the prescience of our inevitable coming agony. In this case we face a downward spiral of adding more and more stress to a time of day when relaxation is all we should be pursuing. Eventually this can lead to a trigger for the other conditions responsible for us not sleeping, and in some cases this fear will become the principal trigger itself.

This condition is almost omnipresent in people who suffer chronic bouts of insomnia, fearing sleeplessness that is, but some of us have deeper roots than others. It's not always a fear of sleeplessness, sometimes it actually is exactly as the word implies - a fear of sleep. Personally, under a great deal of scrutiny I came to discover that I have a distinct fear of falling unconscious from certain personal tragedies that occurred in my life during slumber. This, in turn, led to a lasting irrational and subconscious fear that if I slept bad things would happen to those I loved, and thus it came to a point when sleep wouldn't come until I was physically incapable of remaining awake. My record, as I think I've mentioned before, is 11 days with no sleep.

Others can develop this fear from the threat of past - very real dangers within their environment. One woman I studied had absolutely no capacity for sleep - due to her involvement in an earthquake years before, while she lived in Taipei, Taiwan. She lives in Ohio now, but none the less, her irrational association of sleeping coupled with a dangerous earthquake had left her completely unable to find rest. This kind of associative memory is a persistent problem, often manifesting in the form of anxiety disorder, and it does require therapy and potentially medications, to deal with the underlying causes of irrational fear. But there are things we can do to try and help ourselves.

One program that greatly helped me to relax my fear of sleeping was a sleep optimization course very similar to this one. Over a 3 CD course it can greatly dissolve the fears we develop in falling asleep and, incredibly, it does work.

To find real insomnia cures we really have to become relentless in our pursuit, diligent, and we have to recognize that which robs us of what our bodies and minds need. So if you feel you may have developed some irrational fears about sleeping, think back to any time in your life when something may have disturbed you while you slept, perhaps something that left a lasting negative effect. If you find something, write it down, make a note of it, and prepare yourself to deal with this fear in your waking hours. If you can't think of any external memory that may be responsible for a fear of sleeplessness, perhaps you have developed a propensity to worry over your sleeplessness, thus adding to your agony. In future posts we will delve into certain actions and lifestyle changes you can make to combat this problem.

Either way there may not be any magical insomnia cures, but learning about your fears and anxieties come sleep time can go a long way to allowing you some peace of mind. Sleep optimization programs will help, but long term success is dependent on knowing the root causes of your insomnia.

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