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Hypnophobia[1] or somniphobia is an abnormal fear of sleep. It may result from a feeling of control loss, or from repeating nightmares. The prefix Hypno- originates from the Greek word hupnos, which means sleep.[2]

Basic Symptoms of Hypnophobia

Hypnophobia is typically thought to have numerous symptoms which affects 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. [3]

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Feeling of panic
  • Feeling of terror
  • Feeling of dread
  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Trembling
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea[4]

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 symptoms. [5]


Causes of Hypnophobia (Somniphobia) The causes of hypnophobia are not quite understood. Numerous patients who report having this phobia claim the source to be reoccurring nightmares. [6]Hypnophobia might even reflect an underlying depressive disorder or anxiety disorder as well.[7]It can also be caused by a traumatic experience i.e. 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. [8]


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 Behavior 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.[9]

See also


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