I’m terrified to sleep

Q:  The thought of sleep to me is terrifying.  I view sleep as an unresponsive death-like state in which I lose control and my worst fears will happen.  What can I do?

A:  Many of us face fears of many kinds that interrupt sleep.  Many of us specifically fear the idea of sleep itself.  But we learn to overcome those fears and become better persons for it.  There is every reason to believe you will too.

The way to overcome your fears is knowledge.  For instance, embrace some simple, basic facts about sleep, like this:  we all sleep.  Every man, woman, and child.  Every mammal, birds, reptiles, even most insects.  We in fact can’t not sleep.

Sleep is actually a very dynamic state with many proven health benefits.  During sleep, our brains cleanse themselves of toxins.  We consolidate memories and facilitate learning.  During sleep, children grow.  Our bodies are most capable of fighting illness and infections during sleep.

And we don’t lose complete control.  A part of the brain known as the thalamus helps us sleep by blocking input from our senses.  The thalamus prevents us from waking up while sleeping – which in turn enables the brain to perform its critical function of reviewing and processing information from the day.  But the thalamus is impressively selective in what it blocks; some people can sleep soundly through the roar of a freight train yet awaken to a baby’s cry.  

In short, sleep is not only natural, but very positive for good health.  Not something to be feared.

Knowing proven facts about sleep will help you release some of these fears that are irrational and are hurting you.  Doing this will eventually help you change your idea of sleep from fear to an attitude of welcome rest and rejuvenation.

One of the best methods to change your understanding about sleep is known as cognitive restructuring.  This involves examining  the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes you have that are distorted, overblown, and irrational — such as your fear of sleep.  Through a step-by-step process, you replace distorted and negative sleep thoughts with better, more realistic thoughts that support good sleep.

Cognitive restructuring is one of the core methods contained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically designed for insomnia.  CBT is a proven drug-free way to improve sleep that helps most people who try it.  Many become normal sleepers again.

There is every reason to believe you will be helped too.  If you ever feel overwhelmed, by all means work with your doctor and counselor, but be confident.  You can overcome this fear and sleep better.

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

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