“I’m afraid to fall asleep” … and what to do about it

Question:  “I am sometimes afraid to fall asleep.  Before allowing myself to go to sleep, I sometimes go to great lengths to make sure I wake up again.  I do things like drink lots of water or set my alarm to awaken me every 2 or 3 hours.  It’s very uncomfortable, but I don’t know how to get over this.  What can I do?”

You may be experiencing something that many of us feel but don’t talk much about.  By falling asleep, we lose conscious control. While we are asleep, we are in a way “gone”, superficially like we are gone when we die.  By making this subconscious connection, whether rational or not, sleep may be misperceived as a state similar to death.  And since it’s normal to have at least some fear of death, we may also fear sleep and the loss of control it implies.

This is, needless to say, a counterproductive belief. And yes, to an extent, irrational, though understandable. And therein lies one possible answer.

If you fear sleep, first try making your sleeping environment as secure as reasonably possible, so you have nothing to be afraid of while asleep.  Just before nodding off, make it a point to think “no one is going to hurt me when I let go.”  Better yet, believe just the opposite: “I am safe and protected from harm while under the covers.”

Second, try learning as much as you possibly can about sleep.  Objective information will help.  You will discover that sleep really is much more than just an unconscious state of deep rest.

Various chemicals ebb and flow throughout our minds and bodies while we sleep.  We are most capable of fighting disease and replenishing energy lost during the previous day.  During sleep, children grow.  We process memories and enhance our ability to learn and store new information.  Importantly, sleep resets our emotional mood for a fresh new day.

Sleep is, in a word, good.

If you understand and accept this on a rational level, it may be easier to grasp the irrational fear of sleep and then choose to just let it go.  It is a choice.  That’s all.  Letting go of irrational thoughts is actually a very simple thing to do, but easier said than done. Because irrational thoughts can be ingrained and automatic, it usually takes some practice and persistence and determination to counter them.  But rest assured it can be done.  This is something you control.

Taking back control on many levels is one of the main goals you will achieve with the Sleep Training System.  This comprehensive drug-free approach is based on methods used in many of the world’s top sleep clinics, and incorporates cognitive-behavioral techniques.  You learn how to identify and release negative and often irrational thoughts, and how to replace them with something better, something you control, something supportive of good sleep and good health.

For more information about how the STS can help, or if you have questions about sleep, feel free to contact us.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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One Comment on ““I’m afraid to fall asleep” … and what to do about it”


  1. […] can describe this process generally as drowsiness.  A feeling of letting go , of letting one’s thought’s wander, of […]


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