fear of pillows

Fear of Pillows: Overcoming Pillophobia

Pillophobia, also known as the fear of pillows, is a specific phobia that affects a small percentage of the population. This fear can manifest in various ways, from a general discomfort around pillows to a severe panic attack when confronted with them. In this article, we will delve into the causes and symptoms of pillophobia, as well as provide strategies for overcoming this fear.

Causes of Fear of Pillows (Pillophobia)

There are several possible causes of pillophobia, including past traumatic experiences, genetics, and learned behavior. For some individuals, a traumatic event such as an accident, abuse, or illness may be associated with pillows, leading to a fear of them. Additionally, phobias can run in families, suggesting a genetic component to their development. Lastly, pillophobia can also develop as a learned behavior, where an individual may have observed someone else’s fear of pillows and subsequently developed the fear themselves.

Trauma or past experiences

One of the most common causes of pillophobia is a traumatic or negative experience that a person has had with pillows in the past. For example, if a person was suffocated or choked while using a pillow, they may develop a fear of pillows as a result.

Genetic predisposition

Another possible cause of pillophobia is a genetic predisposition to anxiety or phobias. Studies have shown that phobias can run in families, suggesting that there may be a genetic component to the development of this condition.

Social or cultural influences

Social or cultural influences can also play a role in the development of pillophobia. For example, if a person is exposed to a culture or society that stigmatizes or associates pillows with negative experiences, they may develop a fear of pillows as a result.

Cognitive-behavioral factors

Cognitive-behavioral factors can also contribute to the development of pillophobia. For example, if a person has a tendency to exaggerate the danger or threat of pillows, they may develop a fear of pillows as a result.


OCD: People with OCD may develop a fear of pillows due to their obsession with cleanliness and germs. They may fear that the pillow is contaminated and may cause them to develop an illness.

Symptoms of Pillophobia

Individuals with Pillophobia experience a range of symptoms when exposed to pillows or even the thought of them. These symptoms can include:

  • Extreme anxiety: The mere thought of pillows can cause an individual to feel extremely anxious, nervous, and on edge.
  • Panic attacks: In some cases, individuals may experience a panic attack when exposed to pillows. This can include symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
  • Avoidance: People suffering from pteronophobia may avoid using pillows or going to places where pillows are present. They may also avoid sleeping in certain positions or on certain types of beds.
  • Physical symptoms: Pteronophobia can also cause physical symptoms such as shaking, trembling, and sweating.
  • Intrusive thoughts: Some people may experience intrusive thoughts about pillows, such as imagining them as monsters or feeling like they are suffocating when near them.

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Overcoming Pillophobia

In addition to therapy, there are several coping strategies that can be used to manage the fear of pillows. These include:

Understanding the Fear

To overcome any fear, it is important to first understand the underlying causes. For some individuals, their fear of pillows may stem from a traumatic experience, such as suffocating while sleeping on a pillow. For others, it may be learned behavior, as a result of being told that sleeping without a pillow is harmful for one’s health. Understanding the root cause can help in developing an effective treatment plan.

Further Strategies:

  • Practicing deep breathing or meditation to help relax the body and mind
  • Keeping a journal to track progress and identify triggers
  • Setting small, achievable goals to build confidence
  • Using a soft or flat pillow when sleeping
  • Finding a support group to talk to others who understand the fear

Treatments for Overcoming Pillophobia

The fear of pillows, also known as “dyspillophobia,” is a condition that affects a small percentage of the population. It can cause severe anxiety and discomfort, making it difficult for those who suffer from it to get a good night’s sleep. However, with the right treatments, it is possible to overcome this fear.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the way a person thinks and behaves. In the case of dyspillophobia, a therapist would work with the individual to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that are causing their fear of pillows. They would then teach the individual new coping mechanisms and strategies to help them overcome their fear.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is another effective treatment for dyspillophobia. This type of therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to the feared object (in this case, pillows) in a controlled environment. The goal is to help the individual learn that their fear is irrational and that they can handle being around pillows without experiencing anxiety or panic.

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can also be helpful in overcoming dyspillophobia. These techniques can help to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier for the individual to confront their fear of pillows.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of dyspillophobia. Anti-anxiety medication can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic, making it easier for the individual to undergo therapy and exposure therapy.

3 Phobias Closely Related to Fear of Pillows

There are also several phobias related to seemingly harmless objects or situations. One of these is the fear of pillows. Here are five phobias related to this fear.


Somniphobia, also known as hypnophobia, is the fear of sleep or of going to bed. This phobia can be caused by a fear of nightmares or a fear of suffocating under a pillow. Individuals with somniphobia may avoid going to bed altogether, or may only be able to sleep with a specific type of pillow or in a specific position.


Mysophobia, also known as germophobia, is the fear of germs or contamination. Individuals with this phobia may be afraid of sleeping on a pillow that has been used by someone else, or may be afraid of the germs that may be present on a pillow. They may only be able to sleep with a specific type of pillow or with a pillow cover that has been frequently washed.


Agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces or of being in a situation where escape may be difficult. Individuals with agoraphobia may be afraid of sleeping on a pillow that is too fluffy or too firm, as it may cause them to feel trapped. They may only be able to sleep with a specific type of pillow or in a specific position.


Pillophobia, or the fear of pillows, is a specific phobia that can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. By understanding the causes and symptoms of this fear, as well as utilizing strategies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and medication, it is possible to overcome pillophobia and improve one’s quality of life. It is important to seek help from a qualified professional such as a therapist or counselor. With the right support and guidance, individuals with pillophobia can learn to manage and ultimately overcome their fear.

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