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    Old 01-20-2004, 04:11 PM   #1
    File_On
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    Fear of Sleep

    I have a very weird problem. I have a fear of sleep. I'm not scared someone is going to hurt me while I'm asleep, I'm not scared of bad dreams, I'm scared of the actual act of sleep. To me, concious thought is what makes us alive, when we're not actively thinking, taking in things, aware of ourselves, we're not really alive in the one way that matters. The only differences between sleep and death are the fact that you dream during sleep and that you wake up from sleep. This doesn't really comfort me. Every night I feel like I have to force myself to die for 8-9 hours, turn my brain off. It's ruining my life.

    Now look, I know this isn't normal. For years now, every few months I'll have a period where for anywhere from three-four nights to a couple weeks, I become very afraid to sleep for the reasons above. What makes it worse is that as time ticks down, it makes me more and more afraid. I know we all need sleep, that's obvious, and I know we can't go very long without it, so as the minutes pass, I become more and more afraid of the eventual sleep which I know I can't run from much longer. I can't really get across how horrible this feels. To be tired and be able to sleep, yet what I believe in my brain is at odds with my body. I don't think there's a sleep aid that will help me. I'd be too scared to take them and besides, my problem isn't not being able to fall alseep, it's not wanting to.

    My life is horrible now. These periods where I become extra afraid of sleep make me like a zombie. I get my sleep but it's not restful so I'm tired all day and from the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep, I'm stressed out and depressed, dreading the countdown I have until it's bedtime again. I feel like such a freak, so seperated from the world because I have yet to find anyone else there with this problem. I mean, with most medical or mental conditions, you can find other people with that problem and there are cures to try, I'm just...ugh. I'm crazy, how can a person be afraid of sleep itself?!

    I've grown up with panic disorder and OCD, for years those things made my life a hell but I fought through those things. I take 75 mg of Zoloft a day and I worked hard at facing those problems. My life would be perfect if it wasn't for this sleep problem.

    I don't know what I'm asking for in this post. I don't know what I could possibly get from any of you out there. I can't imagine anyone who feels the same way or anyone being able to come up with a suggestion to help me but if someone did I'd be so happy I think I'd have to name my first born after you.

    Anyway, thanks for reading the ramblings of someone with seriously freyed nerves at the moment.

     
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    Old 01-20-2004, 05:40 PM   #2
    Losec20mg
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    what is it the you're affraid of..I'm affraid too sometimes but, I know why..I'm sure you must know what scares you and, you should tell us..we're here to help, you're not alone...let us know your fears..

     
    Old 01-20-2004, 05:43 PM   #3
    ABC~Mom
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    I am very sorry to hear your going through such a terrible fear...I have OCD too so I know all about that and when I started reading your post I thought "hum...sounds like OCD" then you said it "I've grown up with panic disorder and OCD" so then I knew these things were related...you said you fought through your OCD...do you think that this fear of sleep is really any different than any other fear a person with OCD has?...I know that didnít make much sense...ok for instance I used to be terrified of germs, chemicals and bacteria...I dreaded getting up because I had to face these things...to me it does not seem much different than the fear you are facing with sleep...I fought my OCD through exposure...if it scared me I did it...slowly I began to clean with chemicals and go out in public (exposing myself to the world) and now I am doing much better...it seems to me that the only way you are going to solve this problem is to expose yourself....sleep it is ok, it is normal, we all must do it, it is healthy...it is necessary...when you become afraid tell yourself these things...i learned through therapy that the only person who can ruin (or better) your life is yourself. please keep me posted, i know how crippling fears can be.

     
    Old 01-20-2004, 06:18 PM   #4
    Lectus
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    I went through what you have a year ago, at least in some capacity, and I know it's no fun. Especially when you go into panic mode everytime feel that you're falling asleep. It bothered me on and off for a few weeks but eventually I came to accept that what I was feeling wasn't death, but just the act of falling asleep. It was hard for me to come to that realisation, because it was dark and I didn't know what would come when I sunk the whole way, so I would jolt upward, out of sleep. Does this sound familiar? If so, the thing that helped me was basically stopping the destructive thoughts that lead to worrying over such details as sleep. Find a way to stop stressing, and your body will eventually accept sleep.

    On the subject of egology, Ironically, now sleep is the only place where I feel I can be halfway lucid. My waking hours are shakey, hazy and foggy. Random thing about me.

    Just be thankful that you have clarity while you're awake. Some of us are living the lives of the living dead where non-waking dreams are only a small comfort. Sometimes I think that dead people have clearer thoughts and better ability for abstract thought than I do.
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    Old 01-20-2004, 10:39 PM   #5
    lori j
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    Since you have had OCD, this does sound like OCD or a phobia of some sorts. You say you're taking zoloft, how long have you been on it, could it be that it is not working anymore & this may be a reaction from it? Have you consulted with your doctor about this?

     
    Old 01-21-2004, 12:49 AM   #6
    enoch
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    there use to be a little poster we would stick up on the bulletin boards to get a laugh


    when I die
    I want to die comfortably in my sleep
    like my grandfather did.
    Not screaming like the passengers
    in his car..


    this thing you are explaining is very real - the thought of not waking up. I have had this for years - I have no normal sleep cycle - I just move around until I am exhausted and sleep then comes over me like a narcotic I mean I need sleep so bad it just comes up on me and that's it I don't have time to fear it any more - its just there.

    perhaps death is the same.

    I have sleep apnea - I have arms and legs that go to sleep while I am asleep - I have read this is normal - but it does not feel normal - I have to sleep on my sides - if my head is on the pillow wrong it inflames the arthritis in my neck - I have stomach troubles - acid reflux - gerd - so when I wake up my stomach often hurts - I have panic disorder - so when I wake up there is the feeling of anxiety wondering if I will have an attack today - for years I worked night shift jobs - it was a way for me to cope with the anxiety of having to work - less people and stuff to deal with - I don't have to work anymore now - there is no structure - I just free lance my days together - and sometimes I wish I could sleep like others but don't really know what to do about it? Take drugs to go to sleep - well we know what happens to people who do that don't we - they have to take more and more and then some other drugs to balance out the rebound effect of sedatives.

    I have a dog - he trys to keep my strange hours but he likes to sleep at night - but mostly he trys to play and stuff at about 3 or 4 am - its me and him playing ball in the house - sometimes he goes and stands by the bedroom door as if to say , lets go to sleep now - I call him a lightweight and tell him the sun ain't even up now.. If I go to someones house to spend the night - I watch them go off to bed at a usual time but there I sit on the couch wide awake - if I go try to lay next to them thats what I do - just lay there awake staring at the dark.. Glowing in the dark again I call it...

    I don't really have bad dreams - and I was on remeron for awhile and the stuff gave me vivid dreams and I slept for 12 hours at a time - but I also gained 30 lbs in six weeks and my cholesterol was shot - so I quit taking it - the klonopin stops the panic attacks - but its not sedating to me it don't cause me to sleep - my shrink I currently have don't really address the issue because she thinks its just part of the bi polar II tag.. but I dont think it is - I think its more like you said - the fear of sleep - and having to go through all the things when I wake up that I mentioned above.

    I watch a lot of rental movies - and have just about had it with all the junk they sell on TV at night - with 70 stations there are about three stations that have anything good on them - the rest are all working on poor slobs who they might brain wash into buying a new exercise machine or some new vitimin formula - or ways to grow new hair - or lose weight - or buy real estate - I watch all these in my rented house as I scratch my bald head and rub my fat gut and laugh..

    I don't need any of that stuff - I need another planet and a different dimension - where we don't sleep.. lol

    no answers here - but your not alone..

    Last edited by enoch; 01-21-2004 at 12:50 AM.

     
    Old 01-22-2004, 08:09 AM   #7
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    I read your post yesterday and didnt respond. I see today it has no response again so here goes. In ot affraids of sleep Im afraid I will notbe able to goto sleep. Affraid I have to go to work w/ no sleep, which I have gotten use to over the years.

    It sounds to me as if mabey you need to tell you Dr. that your meds are not doing what they should be doing. I know it's hard to keep switching, the terrible withdrawl the waiting to see if the next cocktail works. I tried everything, or it feels that way. Basically what Im saying is you should not have to live like that. Talk to you Dr. and you tell him what is not working. Dont let him decide. Take control of your healthcare plan! Hope this helps some. Im not a big talker.
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    Old 01-31-2004, 04:23 AM   #8
    MsCeeKay
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    start meditation and keeping your thoughts positive not negative.I used to be scared of sleep coz i wanted 2 see the next day but i convinced myself we let days and
    nights rule us u can start napping during the day and reading a book in the night.
    I really sympathise with yo situation and have faith in God coz the devil is working so hard to make our lives hell.You will come thru it in time if believe you have control over your body and mind.

     
    Old 03-16-2004, 09:50 PM   #9
    KorkyDog
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    Hello. I've read that when we sleep we actually are sorting out thoughts and putting things into perspective. This is part of the reason for our dreams (some of them). You are so relaxed that your brain can automatically sort things out because it doesn't have the everyday tedious events going on to distract it and take away from more important lingering matters. So, you're not actually "turning off" your brain. It's to the contrary - more of a maintenance and "sorting" time for the brain. I hope this helps a little.

     
    Old 03-17-2004, 09:52 AM   #10
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    Hi File,

    Actually your problem is not weird or abnormal. You're not afraid of sleep. You're afraid of death and a lot of people are afraid of death. It makes sense that you associate sleeping with a death-like state. Even the Bible and Jesus refer to death as sleep. One example: "Our friend Lazarus is sleeping. We go to wake him" and the disciples did not understand this so Jesus said plainly "Lazarus is dead". This fear is not something that will go away with time. Quite the opposite. The older you are, the more afraid you become of death. The more time you have to define who you are by how you relate in the world, the more there is of you to be afraid of losing when you are lost to the world (dead). And if you live very long, you will surely realize the futility of the world. Nothing is solid. Nothing is static. Nothing is concrete. It is all passing, changing, becoming, dying. It only appears solid because our observation is limited. And this persona you have created that seems so real and solid that you know as yourself is completely dependent on the world. No wonder you are afraid of leaving it.

    The first thing you have to do is relax. Take deep breaths. Relax and observe your body, your feelings, your sensations, your thoughts. When a thought comes into your mind, take note of it, and then let it pass. Let your thoughts just come and go until you are in a state of 100% pure awareness. Just be aware. Just be. In reality, who you are is not determined by your experiences. We imagine ourselves based on our experience, our likes, and our dislikes. Are you your personality? Are you your choices? Are you your experiences? Are you dependant on the world or your senses? Are you determined by your thoughts, or the processes of your body? We create a "personality" and we call it ourselves in order to operate in the world, but the problem comes when this is the only way we choose to know ourselves. In this case, then, "you" is completely dependent on an outside world, an experience, a sense. If you let this world determine who you are, then you will be as futile as the world is when you can be so much more and ultimately are. We become so wrapped up in these little worlds we have created. "This is what we like. This is what we do not like. This is what we are. This is what we aren't. I'm short. I'm tall. I'm intelligent. I'm shy."

    Quote:
    To me, concious thought is what makes us alive, when we're not actively thinking, taking in things, aware of ourselves, we're not really alive in the one way that matters.
    Descartes, rest his soul. "I think, therefore I am". To Decartes this was the most primitive statement he could make regarding reality to which any thinking person could agree and you say it here too that our existence is our primary experience. That is the only thing that matters, yes? Look at this sentence though. Running through this is a paradox that has plagued us for a long time, since we began to think, even. "I think, therefore I am." Thinking is a process. Being is a state. When you think, your mental state changes with time, but the "me" to which you refer remains the same. We attribute this same paradox of process and being to the world. The world continues to exist, yet it changes. The present becomes the past, and the future comes into being. What is this constancy that you recognize in your personal identity that you are so afraid to let go of? If it is based on your experience, your thoughts, or any product of your relation to the world, then you have nothing to hold on to.

    If it helps you any, when you sleep you are not any less aware. Your thoughts may subside, however if you are a dreamer then even your thoughts do not subside. You must let your thoughts subside, and just be aware. Realize that before you thought, you were. Good luck.

    Last edited by prometheus; 03-17-2004 at 09:59 AM.

     
    Old 03-17-2004, 10:31 AM   #11
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    You need to change your way of thinking. You consider sleep a form of temporary dying. It's not. Sleep is a natural process for the body, and all LIVING things. Even plants go into a resting period.

    The body heals and renews cells and processes brain information while we sleep. It's not a form of dying as you think it to be. It's a process of renewing and building.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by File_On
    I have a very weird problem. I have a fear of sleep. I'm not scared someone is going to hurt me while I'm asleep, I'm not scared of bad dreams, I'm scared of the actual act of sleep. To me, concious thought is what makes us alive, when we're not actively thinking, taking in things, aware of ourselves, we're not really alive in the one way that matters. The only differences between sleep and death are the fact that you dream during sleep and that you wake up from sleep. This doesn't really comfort me. Every night I feel like I have to force myself to die for 8-9 hours, turn my brain off. It's ruining my life.

    Now look, I know this isn't normal. For years now, every few months I'll have a period where for anywhere from three-four nights to a couple weeks, I become very afraid to sleep for the reasons above. What makes it worse is that as time ticks down, it makes me more and more afraid. I know we all need sleep, that's obvious, and I know we can't go very long without it, so as the minutes pass, I become more and more afraid of the eventual sleep which I know I can't run from much longer. I can't really get across how horrible this feels. To be tired and be able to sleep, yet what I believe in my brain is at odds with my body. I don't think there's a sleep aid that will help me. I'd be too scared to take them and besides, my problem isn't not being able to fall alseep, it's not wanting to.

    My life is horrible now. These periods where I become extra afraid of sleep make me like a zombie. I get my sleep but it's not restful so I'm tired all day and from the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep, I'm stressed out and depressed, dreading the countdown I have until it's bedtime again. I feel like such a freak, so seperated from the world because I have yet to find anyone else there with this problem. I mean, with most medical or mental conditions, you can find other people with that problem and there are cures to try, I'm just...ugh. I'm crazy, how can a person be afraid of sleep itself?!

    I've grown up with panic disorder and OCD, for years those things made my life a hell but I fought through those things. I take 75 mg of Zoloft a day and I worked hard at facing those problems. My life would be perfect if it wasn't for this sleep problem.

    I don't know what I'm asking for in this post. I don't know what I could possibly get from any of you out there. I can't imagine anyone who feels the same way or anyone being able to come up with a suggestion to help me but if someone did I'd be so happy I think I'd have to name my first born after you.

    Anyway, thanks for reading the ramblings of someone with seriously freyed nerves at the moment.

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 01:02 PM   #12
    staceyy
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    hey I terrified of sleeping your problem sounds a lot like mine tust me you are not the only one I am too sleepy all day long and when it comes to going to bed adrinalin kicks in some times I am up 4-5 days and then a total phycotic mess there is no cure for me I take xanax and ambian right now it helps with the panick attacks and the sleep you might think about it also do some research on sleep hygeine. and if that dosent work sleepwhen you can. some times I get the best sleep in the afternoon and now my docs want mw to sleep when I can, wish I could be more usful keep in touch
    Goddess Bless
    Stacey

     
    Old 03-22-2004, 06:15 PM   #13
    audreyjudith
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    IN Austrailia, the aboriginals believe that they have 2 lives, the wakeing life and the dream life. My brother told me a great trick that works pretty good.

    As you fall asleep, if you find yourself a bit restless, Count your breathing up to 100.

    One inhale in and one exhale counts as ONE.

    If you find your mind racing and you forgot to keep count, then you have to start over at number 1. No cheating.

    I can tell you that i have never reached 100. As a matter of fact i dont recall ever getting past 20.

    good luck!

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 03:48 PM   #14
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    It is strange that you mention being afraid of sleep because I just realized that that is partly my problem. I usually take a Xanax, minimal dosage to relax me and turn off my mind but my Dr. doesn't like me taking it so he has suggested Ambien among other things. he gave me some samples and I realized after looking at them for a couple weeks that I was afraid to take them for fear they would put me in such a deep sleep that I might not wake whereas the Xanax doesn't put me in a deep sleep. I am not sure how I am going to handle this so am grateful for all the suggestions above. Because I have emphysema my Dr. feels the Xanax may repress my breathing more than the Ambien so I am in a catch -22 situation. I fear the deep sleep that I used to have.

     
    Old 03-25-2004, 09:23 PM   #15
    Doug1029
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    Re: Fear of Sleep

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by File_On
    I have a very weird problem. I have a fear of sleep. I'm not scared someone is going to hurt me while I'm asleep, I'm not scared of bad dreams, I'm scared of the actual act of sleep. To me, concious thought is what makes us alive, when we're not actively thinking, taking in things, aware of ourselves, we're not really alive in the one way that matters.
    Dear File_On:

    I'll add my voice to the others in this thread who share your fear of falling asleep. It's the same for me--not an inability to fall asleep, but a reluctance to do it, with fear at the core. I recently did a self-survey of sleep hygiene and mine isn't that bad in terms of consistency, although I do go very late and typically get less than 6 hours a night (sometimes 3 or 4). What's true is that I put off going to bed and, because I retire so late, don't get enough sleep.

    Some brochures from sleep health centers say that if you lie awake for 20 minutes without being able to fall asleep, you should give up for the moment, get out of bed, do something elsewhere in the house until you feel drowsy, and only then return to bed. That may work for some, but for one with a fear of falling asleep (for me at any rate), this begs the issue. Frontal assault on the fear doesn't work for me - I get "butterflies"--the adrenaline reaction someone in the thread mentioned--and pretty quickly give up. Distraction is what works for me.

    A coping mechanism I developed over years is to conduct an elaborate ritual around bedtime - bring a snack to bed, earphone radio to listen to, books to read, etc. My trick is to distract myself with these things until I get so tired one of two things happens: (1) sleep takes me unawares, or (2) I feel so drowsy that I accept sleep peacefully and let go.

    (Note: not television - it's usually too involving and exciting. Also, you may find that radio programming, if it's upsetting like the news and talk so often is these days, will make you wakeful. But experiment and find out what works for you.)

    An over the counter med that can assist the process is diphenhydramine - good old Benadryl (but buy the cheaper generic knockoffs). Probably still the best antihistamine around, but also a powerful sedative. It really enhances sleep outcome (1) above - sleep sneaks up on you, gently, but once it hits, too steeply to resist (or want to). You don't usually have time to put the book away or turn out the light. As with any drug, check out the usual due diligence, of course.

    So, try diphenydramine (if your doctor or pharmacist doesn't rule it out) and definitely experiment with distractions.

    Good luck,
    Doug

     
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