Parents are well known for wishing their children “Sweet Dreams” when tucking them in bed for the night, but there are many who experience tremendous fear as the sun sets and their bodies insist it is time for bed. They may or may not fear darkness, but they do fear the dreams that may wait for them on the other side of sleep. These individuals suffer with what is known as Oneirophobia. The normal resting period that can rejuvenate an individual for another day of activity may be difficult to come by for the oneirophobe. They can struggle with the desire to sleep and the fear of what that sleep might bring.
What Causes Oneirophobia?
This fear can be broken down into two primary fear components. Let’s take some time to look at each.
The first is a fear of the dreams themselves. This is often in the form of what is typically thought of as nightmares. The dreams themselves are frightening and are generally the result of a past trauma that expresses itself in the form of dreams.
The second is a fear that the dream has a specific, yet frightening meaning. A dream that comes up over and over again may be thought of as an indication of a negative event in the life of the dreamer. The personal experiencing this phobia may determine it is better to avoid the dream than consider the meaning of the dream, yet even in wakefulness the mind often gravitates to the very thing we fear.
Symptoms of Oneirophobia
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The most significant symptom is that of resisting sleep. This could be done by watching television, movies or playing video games. An individual may try reading or exercising in an effort to avoid sleep.
Other symptoms include…
- Air Hunger
- Panic attacks
- Irregular or elevated heartbeat
- A sense of dread
The trouble is the body needs sleep, and sleep is the place where dreams take place. This daily battle with fear can amplify the tone of fear and expand to other areas where fear can be entertained.
How to Overcome Oneirophobia
Dreams are unavoidable and sleep is essential so seeking the help needed to overcome this fear can prove beneficial to virtually all health aspects of your life.
In many instances it is believed that a dream is little more than the influence of our subconscious mind. Many therapists do not believe that dreams routinely forecast predictions of doom. It is possible your dream is an emotional reflection of something that has happened to you in the past. This is something a therapist can work through in order to determine why the fear is so pronounced.
Nightmares also often have an origin in a traumatic event in your past. The repeated performance of the dream can signal the emotional power you’ve given the negative experience. Now instead of simply being a negative event in the past it has become a negative event whenever you fail to keep your eyes open.
Seeking help is a great way to move past the power you may be giving to dreams. The end result could be a better night’s rest and a healthier tomorrow.