Anxiety Attacks at Night

Anxiety attacks at night are very disturbing as the person experiencing them can not sleep and relax properly. Lack of sleep can lead to body and mental fatigue triggering another anxiety attack. So preventing and treating them is necessary to break this cycle.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Jun 13, 2018
Prevalence of anxiety attacks at night is very common. Research figures show that almost 50% of all anxiety patients suffer from nighttime anxiety attacks. Ideally, a person should not suffer from this while sleeping as he is most relaxed, when he or she is in that state. Then, what could be the reason behind their occurrence? Let's find out causes...
Causes
stress
Nighttime panic attacks or anxiety attacks cause severe stress to a person, as he is not able to sleep properly and thus, remains disturbed even during the day. They occur due to a variety of reasons, the most common ones amongst these are listed here...
Chemical Imbalance

The brain releases a substance called serotonin, which makes the body calm and relaxed. If the brain does not provide the body with adequate amount of serotonin, the body suffers chemical imbalance which is experienced in the form of anxiety and panic attacks at night.
Panic-stricken Thoughts

While lying on the bed at night, the person might recall the happenings and events that have taken place during the day. If the day has been stressful, the person might experience panic, while thinking about it. Thus, resulting in anxiety attacks.
Sleep Disorders

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder, which affects the heartrate and the blood pressure. The patient suffering from sleep apnea is woken from sleep, a number of times, during the night. These numerous arousals caused by sleep apnea, can sometimes trigger anxiety attacks. Another sleep disorder, pavor nocturnus, can trigger these attacks too.
Improper Consumption

Tea, coffee, alcohol and drugs, if consumed by an anxiety patient can trigger an attack in the night. Certain foods, like sugar and wheat, might cause an attack in an occasional patient.
Symptoms
Even, a normal person can experience some of these symptoms, when going through a stressful phase in life; however, a person suffering from anxiety will experience these symptoms continuously, day after day.
Here are the symptoms, a person experiences at night.
  • Accelerated heartbeat and palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Numbness
  • Dizziness or giddiness
  • Nausea
  • Extreme hot and cold sensations
  • Muscle pain and fatigue
Prevention
Now that we know the causes and symptoms of nightly anxiety attacks, let's learn how to prevent them. Firstly, you need to take a shower with lukewarm water, before going to bed. This helps in easing the muscle tension and thus, relaxes the body.
Young woman exercising
Secondly, instead of thinking about the day's events at bedtime, meditate for a few minutes. Practice visualization and think about nature or the things that make you happy or relaxed.
Woman Reading book
If meditation techniques for anxiety are not your cup of tea, read a book or play with your children.
Basically, involve yourself in an activity, which takes your mind away from panic-stricken thoughts. This is a proven anxiety cure. Lastly, refrain from caffeine and intoxicants, such as alcohol and drugs. If certain foods are triggering an anxiety attack in you, keep a record of it and don't consume them before sleeping.
Treatment
For treating panic attacks, cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended. CBT is a systematic approach to solve problems related to dysfunctional emotions and behavior. Take psychotherapy sessions from a psychiatrist and try to find out the reasons as to why you're experiencing anxiety and panic attacks.
Once, you are able to ascertain the reasons for your panic, treating them will become easier. Ask the therapist to recommend some mind exercises, to minimize these attacks. You may also consult a physician and ask him to recommend antianxiety drugs and antidepressants, which help in reducing the incidence of such anxiety attacks.
Dealing with anxiety attacks can be quite easy, provided that given tips are followed to the tee. If they still continue even after all precautions have been taken, the reason could be that a certain medication or treatment is not suitable for you. In such a scenario, consult a doctor and alternate treatments or medications should be sought.