Can't Sleep Scared Someone Will Break In?

Lock the doors, sleep with one eye open.
Can't Sleep Scared Someone Will Break In?
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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It's estimated that 8 out of 100,000 people suffer from Scelerophobia - the fear of intruders while sleeping.

There are ways to mitigate the effects of scleerophobia, if not to remove it completely. You can manage your fear with drugs like Prozac that reduce the effects of anxiety. You can also relax and train your mind to rid yourself of fears using hypnotherapy.

Why Do I Have A Fear Of Someone Breaking In?

There are various reasons for anxiety attacks, you may have witnessed an intrusion or have seen a burglary reported on the local news that made you feel uneasy. The exact triggers for anxiety can be difficult to pin down precisely.

Nevertheless, anxiety and phobia are very real to the person being affected and medical professionals take phobias seriously.

The thought of having your home burgled while sleeping would be terrifying to most folks but, the problem comes when the phobia or fear is not justified and is starting to dominate your life.

In certain cases, irrational anxieties and phobias can be a sign of an underlying illness such as dementia or bipolar disorder.

What Do You Do If You Are Scared Of Someone Breaking In?

Let me first say it is completely rational to secure your home from the fear of someone breaking in, this does not mean you have a phobia or are suffering from anxiety attacks.

It’s useful to understand that approximately 80% of all burglaries and home break ins take place during daylight hours which somewhat negates the fear of being burgled at night when you are sleeping.

Take Precautions

Make sure you use substantial locks on all of your doors and windows. It is important to note that if you do have substantial locks that would deter a break-in from occurring the locks are only as good as the quality of your doors.

Substandard or weak doors and frames will not stop a determined burglar.

You can install window bars and coat your windows with laminate, this will prevent window glass from shattering. Keep in mind home break-ins are carried out by opportunistic thieves, if you make it slightly difficult for them they will leave your property alone.

Set up a security system. CCTV cameras are relatively inexpensive these days and are a good deterrent to any opportunistic thief.

Secure your garage with the same security as you use in the house. If the garage is integral to the house use a harmonised security system that covers all entrances and exits.

Using security lighting controlled by sensors will illuminate an intruder on your property giving you time to call the police.

Just to reiterate, home intrusions normally take place in daylight hours with a peak time of 8 am to 3 pm. This may not give you a lot of comfort but, you can be quite sure you can sleep at night with minimal risk.

What Is The Fear Of Intruders Called?

The fear of intruders is called Scelerophobia, it is derived from the Latin word “Scelero” meaning wickedness or crime, and phobo which means fear or deep dread.

Fearing crime is a rational emotion and the severity of the fear can be based on a number of factors like have you been exposed to an attack or home intrusion.

Other factors are gender and ethnicity, females are more likely to feel vulnerable than males while certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to attack depending on the city and neighborhood.

What Is Scelerophobia?

Scelerophobia is recognized as a phobia and a central nervous system disorder.

It can be treated through behavioral therapy and drugs such as Prozac to reduce anxiety.

Who Are Affected by Scelerophobia?

The elderly in our society are thought to be the most vulnerable and have the highest prevalence of Scelerophobia.

Elderly people are known to exhibit more signs of scelerophobia mainly because they feel they are more likely to be an easy target for muggings and home invasions.

Research indicates that the truth is the elderly population is at no greater risk from crime. However, their irrational fear of crime comes from tv programs and news articles when the reality is they are safe in their own homes.

Levels of Scelerophobia in the elderly exceed the true possibility of them being victimized by crime.

More crimes are gender-specific and affect women more than men, based on women being more likely to be sexually assaulted.

Combined with the view that women are a weaker sex Scelerophobia is highest among the female population. Females are seen to have fear coping skills and are in need of a larger support network to be able to feel less vulnerable.

Other factors include trauma transference which occurs from witnessing violent events on tv or in the cinema, in some cases trauma transference and being directly witnessing violent acts to friends and family.

The effects of trauma transference can be severe with the affected person never leaving the home alone and constantly being obsessed with security to the point they live in a closed-off world.

Geographical location also plays a factor, if you live in a large city where crime rates are soaring then Scelerophobia is more common than in other locations.

Scelerophobia Symptoms

Phobias are real to the person they are affecting and the symptoms of Scelerophopia are just as real as any other phobia.

The fear of criminals manifests itself any varying ways like irrational panic attacks, ofter occurring around bedtime when the fear of a home intruder is causing elevated anxiety.

The feeling can be overwhelming preventing sleep as the anxiety attack causes hyperventilation, tremores and in some cases incontinence.

These anxiety attacks frequently occur without warning but the trigger is the thought of sleeping while a break-in is possible.

Below are possible physical symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • A choking sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • A sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Tightness in the chest/chest pain and difficulty breathing
  • A rise in blood pressure

Psychological Symptoms

  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of harm or illness
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear

In certain cases, Scelerophobia can be intertwined with other anxiety disorders making the treatment difficult to identify.

Overcoming Scelerphobia

Not all of us choose to head straight for  Prozac and prefer to find something that’s not chemical-related to change our thought patterns.

You can use self-help quite effectively and use some techniques to make yourself tired and hopefully drift off to sleep quickly.

Light Exercise

You can try a brisk walk or even work at home if working out at home following a yoga tutorial video, go at your own pace, yoga can be strenuous but it is known for relaxation as much as any other of its benefits.


Keep in mind the idea of these processes is to put your mind in a state of relaxation. Meditation is known for its ultra calming effects as you clear your mind of all thoughts.

Ask yourself what's keeping you awake? It's negative thoughts but by removing these thoughts you can be on your way to a good night's sleep.

Warm Bath

Take a warm bath with your favorite bubbles and maybe a candle or two flickering in the bathroom will do the trick to make you feel warm and cozy.

If you have exercised, a warm bath will soothe your muscles and make you feel chilled out and ready for bed.

Calming Music

If you can listen to some calming music to divert your thoughts from negative to positive this will allow you to feel secure and sleepy.

There are some relaxing streams online of the sounds of lapping waves on the shoreline or the rhythmic sound of rain falling on glass. All designed for their use in inducing sleep in folks who are experiencing stress.

The Bottom Line

Scelerphobia can be a debilitating condition keeping you isolated and prisoners in your own home.

It can negatively impact your working life and social life. When the condition is causing insomnia your life can enter a vortex of self-destruction as you fail to function.

Your immune system becomes weakened resulting in you being vulnerable to any infection or virus that comes your way.

You can use a number of methods to help yourself and rebuild your confidence. Self-defense classes are one such tool you could investigate.

If your symptoms are not improving with self-help then seek medical attention, your doctor will take you seriously and provide the interventions needed for you to feel safe and happy.