Fear Of Dreams, Nightmares: Oneirophobia Causes & Treatments

fear of sleeping because of nightmares, oneirophobia, oneirophobia treatment

Oneirophobia, also known as dream anxiety, is a type of phobia that involves a persistent and intense fear of dreaming. This condition can have a profound impact on a person’s mental and physical health, as well as their daily life.

fear of water drowning

What Causes Oneirophobia?

There are several potential causes of oneirophobia, including:

  • Traumatic dreams: People who have experienced traumatic dreams in the past may develop a fear of dreaming due to the negative emotional response associated with the dream.
  • Sleep disorders: Some people with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia may experience nightmares and become afraid of sleeping and dreaming.
  • Mental health conditions: Individuals with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression may be more likely to experience oneirophobia.

Symptoms of Oneirophobia

The symptoms of oneirophobia can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Intense fear of sleeping and dreaming
  • Difficulty sleeping and frequent waking up during the night
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic when thinking about dreaming
  • Avoidance of sleep and avoidance of activities that may trigger dreams
fear of falling sleep man lying on the coach

Diagnosis and Treatment of Oneirophobia

Diagnosis of oneirophobia typically involves a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional, including a review of the person’s medical history and symptoms.

Treatment options for oneirophobia may include:

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective treatment for oneirophobia. CBT can help a person change their negative thought patterns and behaviors related to dreaming.
  • Medication: Antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of oneirophobia.
  • Dream Analysis: Understanding the underlying meanings and themes of one’s dreams can help reduce fear and anxiety associated with dreaming.
man yawning fear of sleep

Coping with Oneirophobia

In addition to seeking professional treatment, there are several steps that a person with oneirophobia can take to help cope with their fear of dreaming:

  • Keep a dream diary: Keeping a record of your dreams can help you understand and make sense of them.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Consuming these substances can disrupt sleep and increase the likelihood of nightmares.
  • Talk to someone: Discussing your fears and experiences with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can provide support and help reduce anxiety.


Oneirophobia is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being. However, with proper treatment and coping strategies, it is possible to manage and overcome this fear. If you or someone you know is experiencing oneirophobia, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

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