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Sleep Anxiety Symptoms, Treatments, and More

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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January 14, 2021 Read Time - 6 minutes

What Is Sleep Anxiety?

Do you dread going to sleep every night? Does your mind start to race every time you close your eyes? You may be struggling with sleep anxiety. 

Sleep anxiety, also called Somniphobia is when a person experiences feelings of anxiety, stress and fear around sleep and going to bed. 

Many people with insomnia experience anxiety, and many people with anxiety struggle with sleep disorders. 

If you think you’re struggling with sleep anxiety read on to learn more.

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Can You Have Sleep Anxiety? 

Yes, it is possible to have sleep anxiety, which is a type of performance anxiety that can cause you to dread trying to fall asleep at night.

Sleep anxiety can be caused by sleep disorders such as insomnia, and anxiety disorders that manifest around going to bed and sleeping. 

What Causes Sleep Anxiety?

Anxiety can make it harder to sleep, and poor sleep quality can cause anxiety. It can be a dreadful cycle, where worrying about falling asleep keeps you awake, which contributes to more anxiety and makes it even more difficult to fall asleep. 

Additionally, research shows that some type of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Anxiety?

Symptoms of sleep anxiety may include:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Dreading going to bed

How Can I Stop Sleep Anxiety?

Now you may be wondering: how do I stop anxiety for sleeping?

The good news is that therapy is proven to help.

One specific type of therapy and counseling, called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is especially effective at dealing with anxiety and sleep anxiety in particular. CBT works to change both thinking patterns and behaviors to help manage symptoms of anxiety or other mental illnesses.

Is There Medication For Sleep Anxiety?

In some cases, medication may also help reduce sleep anxiety. 

Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax help with acute anxiety symptoms and can stop panic attacks.

However, these medications carry a risk of addiction, may stop working over time, and must be prescribed by a doctor at an in-person appointment.

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to help treat chronic anxiety. It may take two to six weeks to start feeling symptom relief, but antidepressants are generally safe to take for a long time and don’t have a risk of addiction.

  • Take your free mental health assessment.

    Your results will help determine which type of support you may benefit from the most.

  • Meet with a top doctor, get an official diagnosis and prescription treatment plan.

  • Sit back and have your prescription delivered to your door.

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Why Do I Feel Scared at Night for No Reason?

When you go to bed and no longer have the distractions of daily life, it’s not uncommon for your mind to race and cause fear or anxiety. This anxiety can be about stressors in your life or hypotheticals, but either way, when we aren’t distracted our minds can take us places we don’t want to go. 

When you struggle to sleep, it’s common to worry about whether or not you will be able to sleep which can also contribute to anxiety creating a cycle.

Fear of the dark is another reason many people are scared or anxious at night. Being unable to see our surroundings and having one of our most relied upon senses removed can cause unrest. 

This fear is natural but not something you need to live with. If your fear of the dark is giving you anxiety there are many solutions available such as a nightlight or therapy. 

How Can I Stop Thinking at Night?

There are many things you can do to help slow your thoughts down at night to help you sleep better, including:

  • Do deep breathing exercises to help relax your mind and body
  • Make to-do lists to help stop thinking about tasks you need to accomplish
  • Meditate to learn how to tune out anxious thoughts and focus on the present
  • Develop good sleep hygiene habits by going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding electronics for an hour before trying to sleep, and only using your bed for sleep and sex, not work.

Why Do I Keep Waking Up?

Many sleep problems like sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy may cause you to keep waking up at night, in addition to anxiety. 

If you aren’t sure what’s causing you to keep waking up at night, it may be a good idea to talk to a doctor, who may recommend some sleep tests to look for a physical cause of your sleep problems.

Stress and anxiety can also make it harder to fall into a deep sleep and therefore easier to wake up throughout the night. 

Can Therapy Help Sleep Anxiety?

Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be very effective in treating sleep anxiety. 

In therapy, you will learn how to change your thinking patterns and behaviors to help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Do I Need a Doctor for Sleep Anxiety?

Therapy is usually the most effective way to treat sleep anxiety, and you don’t need a doctor for that. PlushCare is now offering online therapy and our top therapists can work with you to reduce sleep anxiety.

If you’re struggling with sleep anxiety, don’t delay care. Sleep anxiety is treatable and you can get CBT from the comfort of your home as soon as today.

Start tackling your sleep anxiety with the help of a professional so you can get the rest you need to live your life happily and healthily. 

To book an online therapy appointment, click here.

If you think you may benefit from medication for your sleep anxiety, you will need to talk to a doctor about your anxiety.

For benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax, you must see a doctor in person to get a prescription.

If you want to try managing your anxiety with an antidepressant, you can have an online appointment with one of the licensed doctors at PlushCare. If the doctor thinks an antidepressant may help your sleep anxiety, they can electronically send a prescription to your local pharmacy.

To speak to one of our trusted doctors, click here or download the free PlushCare mobile App to schedule an appointment.

Read More About Sleep Anxiety and Treatments 


PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Sleep Disorders. Accessed on December 9, 2020 at

Harvard Health Publishing. Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep. Accessed on December 9, 2020

PubMed. The Effect of Anxiety and Depression on Sleep Quality of Individuals With High Risk for Insomnia: A Population-Based Study. Accessed on December 9, 2020 at

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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