Night Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms and Top Methods to Prevent Anxiety at Night
Your night anxiety makes you almost dread going to bed. It takes you hours to fall asleep and disturbing and frightening thoughts take control over your mind, until you have a full-blown anxiety attack.
People who suffer from night anxiety may also experience hideous dreams that make no sense at all. You wake up feeling awful. You just know that you’re going to be a wreck again tomorrow.
Why? What keeps triggering these night anxiety attacks, especially when you’re in bed at night?
According to Health.com, “The relative isolation, quiet, and absence of distractions are probably the big factor here. During the day, we can use a variety of strategies to modulate these concerns, including taking direct action to address them. Lying in bed in a dark room, they become overwhelming and inescapable.”
The Insomnia-Anxiety Link
You may not be aware of it, but your anxiety could be caused by a sleep disorder. Insomnia fuels a cycle of anxiety. Insomnia makes it hard to fall asleep. You toss and turn and the anxious thoughts appear. Am I going to lose my job? What’s going to happen at that doctor’s appointment? Did I forget my pants at the dry cleaners?
Insomniacs anticipate problems with sleep. Even before they lie down at night, the anxious thoughts are already there, fueling the vicious night anxiety cycle. Specialists call this “catastrophizing.” It’s almost a sense of learned hopelessness.
How to Prevent Night Anxiety
To prevent anxiety at night, the most important thing to do is to NOT lie in bed and try to fall asleep. Get up and do something else, in another room, until you are truly sleepy. This way you can reduce negative thinking and anxiety out of your bed room.
Here are a few great ways to prevent night-time anxiety:
1. Avoiding prescription drugs – I have tried that out – and it gave me a little relief – but the goal is to get through night anxiety without creating another problem – chemical dependency. Besides, these drugs will never cure the condition, only temporarily relieve symptoms.
2. Avoiding caffeine, nicotine or wine in the evening- these only made the problem worse. I actually tried living with or without them and witnessed the difference. These can actually make your attacks worse and caffeine can actually give you insomnia, thus you can’t sleep at all.
4. Avoiding bad night habits – Don’t look at the clock! Ever!
Turn the clock around to face the wall, or hide it in a drawer or under the bed. I was constantly checking the time and that reinforced my thought that I’ll never get back to sleep.
Don’t stay in bed more than 15 minutes. I used to do this to remind my brain that the bed is the place to sleep – not the place for stressing, worrying and obsessing.
Don’t go back to bed too soon. I only went back to bed when I felt I could fall asleep right away. I watched, on purpose, a boring TV show or read a boring book.
Before going to sleep, try to watch something funny on TV. Never an action film or sad drama. Something light, funny and even stupid. Give your brain a break and a chance to escape from everyday worries.
What to Do If You Can’t Handle This on Your Own
If your middle-of-the-night anxiety becomes too much to overcome on your own, cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques can really sessions help you find strategies to cope.