How to Sleep After Seeing Something Scary? (9 Tips)

In this brief guide, we will discuss some tips on how to sleep after seeing something scary, as well as other things about being scared, like why some people can’t sleep after watching a horror movie or something scary.

How to Sleep After Seeing Something Scary?

To sleep after seeing something scary you need to first ensure that you are not going to bed right after the scary thing that you have seen, because that can make you more likely to mull over what you just saw.

Another thing you can do when you have just seen something scary and are not able to sleep because of it is before you go to bed, focus on something else, try to see or read something less scary and something with a more positive emotion attached, like something happy.

The trick to sleeping after seeing something scary is to get your mind off whatever it is that scared you and remind your brain that there are other, more positive things that it can think of, so that the distraction can help you get to sleep. 

To fall asleep quicker after seeing something scary, you can also try to think of a happy memory because research indicates that happy memories are processed by the same parts of the brain that may be involved in the formation of fear related memories, which means that as long as you are remembering your happy childhood memory you are actively erasing the fear responses from watching a scary movie.

Find an object in your room and focus on its various aspects, like its shape, its contours whether it reminds you of anything, where you obtained this object because focusing on a real world object in your surroundings is very good at grounding you to the present and helping you forget whatever scary thing was not letting you sleep.

To sleep after seeing something scary, you can also try to listen to soothing music, make sure you play it softly and you will find that you start focusing on the music slowly, and you might feel your attention slipping away from whatever was scaring you.

You can also listen to sleep stories, which more and more adults and grown-ups are accepting as very good way of meditation and relaxation, like GetSleepy podcast, that does lovely and detailed stories where there isn’t a lot of action happening but the world is built with such complexity that once you start imagining the things they are saying it can put you to sleep very easily.

If you know how to play an instrument yourself, you can also try to concentrate on how you might play your chosen soothing music yourself and you can use your musical knowledge to think about the key or time signature and just start thinking about all the things you are hearing.

Getting to a tranquil state where you can sleep may also be done by focusing on your breathing or practicing some breathing exercises, in fact, most hypnotic techniques are pretty much based on the same principle.

You can also try saying to yourself “in” and “out” as you breathe in and out, and you don’t even have to say it out loud, but just trying to regulate your breathing consciously will occupy your brain elsewhere and you will find yourself slipping into sleep.

Another great way to sleep after seeing something scary is to see or read something funny, because it has been seen that humor is a great way to occupy your mind when you are too scared to sleep. 

Laughter, in general, is good for your health so if you are too scared to sleep, you should try to expose yourself to something funny before you sleep as it has also been shown to affect your dreams.

In fact, if you are watching something funny before bed, try to make it something that is familiar to you already, and this also reduces the possibility of the scary media affecting your dreams and your ability to sleep.

Why am I Scared of Horror Movies?

You might be scared of horror movies because you have high emotional responses or you might be a highly sensitive person.

A highly sensitive person is someone that is very attuned to all the stimuli around them and has trouble dealing with things that are too emotionally draining in any way.

Someone with highly sensitive tendency may also be particularly susceptible to jump scares and other ambience building tropes that are commonly used in horror movies, like the sounds and atmosphere of the scenes, which may be more evocative to the highly sensitive person than other people.

Being scared of horror movies is not a shameful thing, as some people tend to make it out to be, and it is perfectly alright to be scared because they are intentionally built to make you feel that way.

Here are some things you may want to ask yourself to figure out if you are a highly sensitive person:

  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?

If you find that you agree with a lot of these statements, then you might be a highly sensitive person, and you should avoid things that are too violent or horrific right before bed, because it can hurt your regular sleep pattern.

Waking Up Because of being Scared: Sleep Terrors

If you ever wake up because you are scared, you may be experiencing sleep terrors, though they are mostly seen in children.

Sleep Terrors are described as follows, in the International Classification of mental and behavioral disorders (ICD 10):

“Sleep terrors or night terrors are nocturnal episodes of extreme terror and panic associated with intense vocalization, motility, and high levels of autonomic discharge. 

The individual sits up or getsup with a panicky scream, usually during the first third of nocturnal sleep, often rushing to the door as if trying to escape, although he or she very seldom leaves the room. 

Efforts of others to influence the sleep terror event may actually lead to more intense fear, since the individual not only is relatively unresponsive to such efforts but may become disoriented for a few minutes. 

Upon awakening there is usually no recollection of the episode. Because of these clinical characteristics, individuals are at great risk of physical damage during the episodes of sleep terrors.”

Furthermore, the diagnostic criteria for sleep terrors is given as follows:

  • “The predominant symptom is that one or more episodes of awakening from sleep begin with a panicky scream, and are characterized by intense anxiety, body motility, and autonomic hyperactivity, such as tachycardia, rapid breathing, dilated pupils,and sweating;
  • These repeated episodes typically last 1-10 minutes and usually occur during the first third of nocturnal sleep;
  • There is relative unresponsiveness to efforts of others to influence the sleep terror event and such efforts are almost invariably”

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.


In this brief guide we discussed some tips on how to sleep after seeing something scary e.g a cockroach as well as other things about being scared like why some people can’t sleep after watching a horror movie or something scary.

Being scared right before going to bed can be very jarring and one may find that they are not able to sleep after seeing something scary, and yet watching horror movies at night is a fun and exciting activity and one might not want to do it during the day time when they don’t have to sleep afterwards.

If you are one of the people that like watching horror movies but find that they are not able to sleep after, you may want to try some of the tips mentioned here so that you are able to find an outlet for your fear.

If you have any questions or comments about How to sleep after seeing something scary, you can reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Sleep after Seeing Something Scary?

How do I stop thinking about scary things when trying to sleep?

Make meaningless mental lists to distract yourself
Do your best to try and stay awake instead of struggling to sleep or thinking about how late it is.
Get out of bed and start doing something you ordinarily wouldn’t want to do
Write down whatever’s scaring you
Do some deep breathing in bed and
Listen to relaxing music

How do you sleep after seeing something traumatic?

To sleep after seeing something traumatic you need to rest your mind and calm your nerves, because seeing something traumatic can make your brain be on high alert for possible threat in the future, which keeps you awake.

Here are some tips to sleep after seeing something traumatic:
Sleep in a comfortable and safe environment 
Create a sleeping environment according to you, and not aesthetic or other factors
Go to bed only when you’re ready to sleep and try not to laze around in bed before bedtime.

Don’t take too many naps during the day.

Is it bad to watch horror movies before bed?

No, it is not bad to watch horror movies before bed, but if you do it regularly or all the time, it can be harmful in the long run.

Usually people who watch horror movies before bed are the type who are not bothered by the content of horror movies on a deep level, but there are some that are more sensitive tho things like that, and they may experience some anxiety if they watch these movies right before bed.

What is sleep anxiety?

Sleep anxiety is a kind of Specific anxiety or performance anxiety, which is the fear or anxiety that occurs in a specific condition, and people may experience sleep anxiety because they are stressing about not getting enough sleep to function the next day, and this stress alone keeps people awake for hours, and it eventually becomes a cycle where the person is simply not able to sleep right.


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