Stress management

Anxiety attacks at Night tips

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Anxiety at night occurs when you’re just about to sleep or when you’re either unable to sleep due to anxious thoughts or when you wake up in the midst of your sleep for no apparent reason. You wake up breathing fast and uneven, your heart racing, your chest tight, and sometimes you’re even unable to relax your mind and return to sleep.

Most people who suffer from night-time anxiety find themselves mentally and physically challenged when trying to convince their bodies to fall asleep due to the fear of that experience. Being awakened by anxiety at night is a terrible experience because you’re barely conscious enough to know what’s really happening and you probably feel more vulnerable because it’s the middle of the night.


anxiety attacks at night

What are the causes of night time anxiety attacks?


Although it’s possible to have a night-time anxiety attack without any cause at all, anxiety at night appears to have a wide range of possible triggers. Some of the most likely triggers of night-time include:

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most likely triggers of anxiety attacks at night. It occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and obstruct the upper airways. In most cases, this type of sleep apnea is caused by excess tissue and fat around the neck that when not held in place, put pressure on the upper airways and you end up not breathing for 30 seconds or even more. The resulting lack of oxygen and increased carbon dioxide causes hypoventilation whose symptoms mimic those of heart disease. Most people who suffer from anxiety disorders wake up in a panic largely due to symptoms such as tightness in the chest and shortness of breath; triggering a full-blown
anxiety attack.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (Acid reflux disease)

GERD may also trigger anxiety attacks at night because its symptoms can mimic serious health issues such as labored breathing, chest pains and pressure, hyperventilation, night sweats and headaches. These symptoms can cause you to wake up suddenly in a panic hence triggering serious night-time anxiety.

Hyperventilation disorder

Hyperventilation disorder affects a large number of people who suffer from panic attacks. it is responsible for many of the symptoms of night-time anxiety attacks, and often causes anxiety attacks at night as well. Therefore, people who hyperventilate in their sleep are more prone to waking up with anxiety at night.

Frequent nightmares

People who have frequent nightmares also end to wake up with anxiety attacks at night. Nightmares may cause such people to hyperventilate simply because they think they suffer from severe anxiety. On the other hand, their nightmares may be sufficiently frightening that when they wake up they are in the process of a full-blown night-time anxiety attack.

Posttraumatic stressdisorder (PTSD)

PTSD is caused by treat of physical harm or exposure to terrifying events. Combat veterans, former prisoners of war, first responders and other people exposed to trauma often report symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Besides having a difficult time sleeping, such people also experience night-time anxiety. Some people’s dreams may reflect this violence-filled past and they often experience anxiety at night.


How can you minimize anxiety attacks at night and maximize sleep?


Changing your pre-sleep habits to reduce your physical and mental stress levels can help you break the vicious cycle of night-time anxiety. Although habit changing requires patience and persistence, if you follow these tips and ideas you’ll find yourself feeling less anxious in no time. This will make it easier for you to get a good night’s sleep. However, it’s essential to try different strategies and methods in order to learn what works for you.

Keep to a bedtime schedule

Deciding on the particular time you want to go to bed each night relaxes your body by providing it with a familiar and comforting routine to follow. You can experiment with different bedtimes to find the sleep cycle that suits you best. It is also essential to eliminate napping or limit it to 30 minutes in the early afternoon because later naps tend to interfere with our ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Do something that will engage more of your mind

You can alert your body and mind that you should be sleeping soon by simply turning everything off, dimming the lights, and doing something that engages your mind. Doing something casual such as drawing, playing cards, or reading provides a longer-term distraction and keeps your mind occupied with something other than your troubles when it’s time to sleep.

Avoid light stimulation

Dim lights around the house and stop using electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. The light from electronic devices such as iPads and televisions can keep your mind stimulated and make it believe that it’s still daytime. Turn off your electronic devices and cover up the blue displays or simply keep them in another room. Dimming lights also stimulates
your body to wind down and go to sleep.

Exercise and lose weight

Exercise reduces depression and anxiety and improves sleep quality. Post-work exercise reduces anxiety and depression while improving your ability to cope with stress. Therefore, working out at least 3 hours before your scheduled bedtime can help you get a good night’s sleep. Weight loss is also very important especially if your night-time anxiety is caused by something such as obstructive sleep apnea because it reduces the risk of hypoventilation during sleep.

GERD/Apnea treatments

If your anxiety at night is likely caused by obstructive sleep apnea or GERD, it’s important to talk to your doctor about apnea or GERD treatments. Treatment options that relieve the trigger can help prevent night-time anxiety attacks.

White noise

Easy to ignore radio or calming noise can distract your senses and make it harder for you to feel anxious or focus on your troubles. The sound of a box fan can also be soothing especially when you’re drifting to a sleepy state.


Avoiding anxiety at night can prove to be a daunting task. However, by understanding the underlying triggers and following the above healthy techniques and strategies may be all you need to overcome night-time

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