Sleep Better

How to Deal With Sleep Dread

An image of Danielle Mowbray
08 Jun 20173 min read
A woman laying on her side with one eye open

For the majority of people, going to sleep every night and waking up in the morning is taken for granted. For others, it is a little more complicated thanks to sleep dread. Sleep dread is a severe fear of sleeping, and this could be down to many things including continuous nightmares, a struggle to get to sleep, and a general feeling of anxiety before bedtime.

If this is something that you have to deal with yourself, find out how to deal with sleep dread disorder below.

Get into a regular routine

Our bodies thrive on routine, and sleep is possibly the most important routine that we have. For this reason, it is important that you try to go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning. It might be tempting to lie in bed for a little longer if you have nothing else to do that day, but that can actually damage your routine, and encourage sleep dread to worsen.

Don’t nap during the day

If you nap during the day, then you won’t be as tired when you go to bed – and a wide awake mind is the perfect thing to kick off your anxiety. If you feel tired during the day then this might be because you’re not sleeping properly at night. Although it may not feel helpful, resisting the urge to nap is likely to help you get into the routine that your body craves.

Treat sleep dread anxiety with exercise

Woman stretching in a field

If you do feel the need to nap in the day, try to do something active like going for a walk or do some housework instead. Exercise is something that can really help sleep dread disorder – tiring the body has the dual effect of tiring the mind, and it’s often your overactive mind that keeps you awake.

Make sure your bedroom is the perfect environment for sleep

If your bedroom is too light, you won’t be able to get to sleep. For this reason, you should buy blackout curtains or blinds, as these can work to keep all of the light out of your room. In addition to this, it is important that your room is the right temperature for you to sleep. Usually, this means it should be a little cooler than you might think, as being too hot can not only make you struggle to sleep, but it can also worsen anxiety, too.

Use your bedroom for sleeping only

A white bedroom

Lots of us choose to use our bedrooms for many things, including watching television and working – however this is something that will make getting to sleep difficult, as our brains will learn to associate the bedroom with lots of different things. For this reason, no matter what else you need to do during the day, you should try to find another place to do it other than your bedroom. Electronic devices shouldn’t be allowed in the room at all, as they can be distracting – and the temptation to check social media before you go to sleep is often too much.

How to deal with sleep dread: A summary

  • Get into a regular routine
  • Don’t nap during the day
  • Treat sleep dread anxiety with exercise
  • Make sure your bedroom is the perfect environment for sleep
  • Use your bedroom for sleeping only

Generally, although sleep dread may feel as though it is an endless cycle, there are definitely things that you can do to help, and getting into a routine is by far the best thing that you can do. If you try to get into a routine – and keep it constant – you should find that gradually your sleep dread anxiety becomes a thing of the past, and you will be able to enjoy relaxing and having a peaceful night’s sleep.

For more help on getting a good night's sleep, see our article on mindfulness exercises you can do before bed.