If you suffer from night anxiety, be aware – you are definitely not alone. 50% -70% of anxiety and panic disorder sufferers have reported having night anxiety attacks as well. You would think that anxiety and stress could at least give you a break at night – but no. Maybe you are worried about losing your job. You go to bed, but toss and turn for an hour. Finally you get out of bed at 2 A.M with full blown anxiety or panic attack.
How You Become Afraid of the Night
Your anxiety quickly spreads to other areas: a nine o’clock doctor’s appointment, the urgent tasks you didn’t get to accomplish today, and the presentation you’re going to blow if you don’t get some sleep. Awful thoughts fill your head:…”I’m going to be a wreck tomorrow”, “This thing will drive me crazy”…”Am I going to die tonight?”
After a few nights of these repeated thoughts, you start being afraid of the night starting with early evening. It is a hopeless situation.
My Little Story
I used to be sure that I am going to die. With what was racing in my mind, there was no way to drift back to sleep if I could go to sleep at all. The quiet of the night, the isolation and “night sounds” were daily triggers to my night anxiety. I couldn’t sit still, but I didn’t have much energy to move. I could pace around for hours thinking how I am going to lose my mind. I didn’t have a spouse or anyone else to lean on.
Over the years I found just a few methods that gave me some relief from night anxiety, I wanted to share them with you:
The Best Methods to Fight Night 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.
3. Drinking valerian or St.John’s wart tea – actually helped me (sometimes) prevent night anxiety.
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. Night anxiety should not happen in bed.
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.
The Happy End: How Did I Put Night Anxiety behind Me
Anxiety did not “attack me” only in the middle of the night. It was happening all the time, out of nowhere and without apparent reason. I finally acknowledged that I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder and while these methods were very good, I wanted to go to the core and cure the condition – not just the symptoms. That was the first day of the rest of my life.