Hypnophobia, also termed Clinophobia or Somniphobia, is the often irrational and excessive fear of sleep. It may result from a feeling of control loss, or from repeating nightmares or anxiety over the loss of time that could be spent accomplishing tasks or maximizing leisure time instead of sleeping. The prefix Hypno- originates from the Greek word hypnos, which means sleep.
Causes of hypnophobia
One potential cause of hypnophobia can be seeing someone else who has a sleep terror, incident or other triggering event, such as on television or in person, thus making the hypnophobic also afraid to sleep.
Basic symptoms of hypnophobia
Hypnophobia is typically thought to have numerous symptoms which affect the body. These symptoms can affect the patient both physically and mentally. Many feel anxiety when talking about the subject of sleep or even thinking about it. Although hypnophobia is a relatively common form of anxiety disorder it can be difficult to treat.
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of panic, dread, and terror
- Dry mouth
- Irregular heartbeat
The symptoms may differ for different patients and may experience them in their own way. There are numerous prescription drugs for hypnophobia, but the side effects and withdrawal symptoms can be severe. The prescribed drugs do not cure this illness but only temporarily suppress the symptom .
The causes of hypnophobia are not quite understood. Numerous patients who report having this phobia claim the source to be recurring nightmares. Hypnophobia might even reflect an underlying depressive disorder or anxiety disorder as well. It can also be caused by a traumatic experience (e.g. a car accident, house fire, or natural disaster). Patients may also become hypnophobic after sleeping through a traumatic event; for example, a patient may have fallen asleep while smoking and woken up on fire.
Similar to all phobias, anxiety seems to be the driving force behind almost all fears. The key to treating hypnophobia is to reduce anxiety, or to eliminate it completely. Other ways such as meditation, or yoga may help in the treatment process. If a patient is experiencing hypnophobia due to the lack of security while they are sleeping, it is recommended that they sleep next to, or near someone in order to have confidence that nothing will happen to them while they are sleeping.
Cognitive Therapy is a widely accepted form of treatment for most anxiety disorders. It is also thought to be particularly effective in combating disorders where the patient doesn’t actually fear a situation but, rather, fears what could result from being in said situation. The ultimate goal of cognitive therapy is to modify distorted thoughts or misconceptions associated with whatever is being feared; the theory is that modifying these thoughts will decrease anxiety and avoidance of certain situations.
- Robley Dunglison; Richard James Dunglison (1895). Richard James Dunglison, ed. A dictionary of medical science: containing a full explanation of the various subjects and terms of anatomy, physiology, ... (21 ed.). Lea Brothers & Co.
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