WELLNESS
01/26/2012 03:49 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2012

5 Tips For Battling Somniphobia

Somniphobia is an uncommon sleep disorder. It usually affects children slightly more often than adults but is not age-specific, in general. We spoke to Kenneth C. Anderson, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary and sleep medicines and a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you think you or your child might have somniphobia, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Tracie Handley

Somniphobia is the fear of going to sleep. "Somniphobia is a nighttime problem, and a good example is a young child who is scared of going to sleep because [of] bad dreams and, now, is afraid of having another bad dream," explains Dr. Anderson. "I've seen it in [adults] with sleep apnea who wake up gasping for breath, so they don't want to go to sleep again."

Identify Your Underlying Symptoms

Dr. Anderson says that when you realize you have, or have developed, a fear of going to sleep you need to search out the underlying cause, find out the symptoms. "Do you wake up gasping, making you afraid to go to sleep again, or what are the underlying causes?" he asks.

Determine If It's Insomnia Or Somniphobia

"Again, you have to search out the underlying symptoms and identify them," and the sooner the better, says Dr. Anderson. "In the psychological aspect, people with insomnia aren't afraid of going to sleep, they just can't sleep."

Seek Professional Evaluation

According to Dr. Anderson, "Somniphobia is more of a symptom of something else that's going on." He recommends seeing a physician for sleep evaluation, "so you can get the treatment, and then get used to going to sleep again."

Make Your Bedroom Conducive To Sleep

"Practice good sleep hygiene measures," says Dr. Anderson, which means that your bedroom should be conducive to sleep. "Don't have your office in there, don't have your TV on, and don't have your entertainment in there. ... A lot of people come to a sleep clinic and they sleep so much better, because they came there to sleep. Your bedroom should be set up for sleep, and that's it."

Have A Set Sleep Pattern

"Have a set pattern, or routine, for sleep," says Dr. Anderson. "You need that routine so your body knows it's time go to bed, and then to go to sleep and do what it needs to do -- sleep."

Kenneth C. Anderson, M.D, is a specialist in pulmonary and sleep medicines. He is a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center, at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Kentucky, and Louisville Pulmonary Care, LLC. Dr. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where he completed his residency and fellowship. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine and hospice and palliative medicine, and is a certified NIOSH B reader.

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder?