I am afraid of sleep

I’ve never experienced any problems during sleep, but I’ve recently I’ve just been too afraid to. I’m afraid I’ll die in my sleep, or get sleep paralysis, or have a bad nightmare. It’s gone to the point where I purposely avoid sleep and dread the build up towards it. Please help. (15M)

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Hi! Thanks so much for sharing, it is really couragous of you to do so :D! I hear that you are really worried about sleeping and that must have been really difficult to deal with. Although I am not a professional, if I were you, I may choose to visit the doctor about it and see what help I can get. Maybe something you can look into is why you may have these problems in your sleep - could be due to stress? Overwhelming thoughts? Maybe you could look more into it! Jiayou!

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It does sound like you may have anxiety, which I would definitely recommend seeing a doctor/psychologist to treat. Some things that I find can help is having a wind-down routine that helps you to calm down before sleeping, such as not using devices for an hours before sleeping, doing reading/meditation/journaling or breathing exercises. Additionally do take note of any stress you may experience and negative thoughts and you can slowly address them, by asking yourself of any possible reasons you may have this fear. You could think of sleep as recharging your energy and preparing you for the next day which can help you with understanding it’s importance and help to prevent avoiding sleeping due to the many health issues you may face from sleep deprivation. :slight_smile:

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Dear user 1195,

I am sad to hear about the distress you have been experiencing around sleep. First, let me assure you this is quite common and most of us experience different types of fears about sleep from time to time.

Through taking steps, I am confident you would be able to reduce the fear. I think you are courageous in seeking help, and I see it as a good first step! Well done :slight_smile:

Let’s take a deeper look at what you have shared:

(a)Fear of dying in your sleep
While the fear is understandable, it’s important to know that for someone young and healthy to die in their sleep is truly rare.
When such a thought comes up again, try focusing on the facts and statistics which may help reassure you. Let the thought remain in the background, like radio chatter and continue on with whatever you are doing. Do not focus on the thought, let the thought remain in the background. eventually it will reduce its grip on you.

(b)Sleep paralysis
While scary, is not harmful. It occurs when you wake up during a dream and your body is still in a state of temporary paralysis. Understanding that it’s a common experience and practicing mindfulness techniques can help. I personally do some breathing exercises. I take in a breath (3 counts), hold the breath (4 counts) and breathe out (5 counts). All the while, I focus on the breath, imagining the air coming in and journeying through my body. This way, I don’t let my mind wander off into a spiral of negative thoughts. I focus mindfully on my breath and feel calmer as a result.

Nightmares
No one enjoys nightmare. These are often a result of deep stress or anxiety. what changes have been happening in your life that may have contributed to the heightened stress and anxiety? Take steps to reduce stress. Engage your parents and family members or trusted friends/teachers/counsellors. Many students benefit from identifying stressful pain points and addressing those.

Here are some strategies to try.

(a)Think about the nights you wake without nightmares. What had you done differently at those times?
Slowly but for sure you can piece together the unique routine you need for a nightmare-free sleep. Also reflect when the fear of sleep first started? talk to a school counsellor or a trusted friend about it.

(b)Build in a routine around sleep. Have a shower, put away electronic devices and only go to bed when you are feeling sleepy.

(c)Daily exercise is key. You will produce endorphins that relax you and improve mood.
Your body will feel tired, too.

(d)Keeping a bedtime routine and a calm, stress-free environment can help reduce the likelihood of nightmares and reduce the fear of sleeping.

I hope these help. Let us know :slight_smile:
:heart:

Warmly
CaringBee

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hello @user1195 did something happen recently to cause this change? If it starts affecting your daily life, I think it will be good if you speak with a doctor or counsellor to see how they can help. In the meantime, you can try setting a routine before bedtime? Maybe read a book, do some prayers, meditate or listen to some soothing music for 15-30 mins.

You can try some of the sleep resources on youth mindline to see if they help:

I actually have the exact same thing time to time, but how I sometime managed to overcome it is using my strength of imagination to imagine a favourite character / spacecraft in my case comforting me. Althought I am experimenting to imagine it in more calmer way and trying to embrace my insomnia and this same fear I have but having a positive thought on this period of time can work. (More of imaginary relaxation thing, I forget the technical term for this method)

Not sure if it will be work on you but you can give it a try.