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Experiencing Nighttime Anxiety? Here’s How to Get Rid of It for Good

If you’re struggling to fall asleep every night, counting sheep to allow your mind to calm itself but to no avail, just know that you’re not the only one in this dire situation. Calming your mind and stopping your brain from overthinking can be quite tricky; especially if you’re the type of person that starts analyzing every conversation, every interaction, and every event during the day once their head touches the pillow.

It’s not unusual to feel anxious. In fact, it’s a normal human emotion. Unfortunately, anxiety can affect your activities during the day as well as your sleep during the night, increasing your stress and fatigue levels. Finding a way to treat your nighttime anxiety is crucial to becoming well-rested and the best version of yourself.

Photo by Antonio Guillem on Shutterstock

What is nighttime anxiety?

According to health experts, nighttime anxiety consists of feeling worried, fearful and stressed during the night. Some might mistake its symptoms for insomnia, but nighttime anxiety is something different. Insomnia is defined as a sleep disorder that prevents people from falling or staying asleep. On the other hand, nighttime anxiety is defined as feeling anxious at night.

Anxiety at night can have many symptoms, but the most frequent ones are the following:

  • Feeling nervousness or restless
  • Breathing too fast
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling chest tightness
  • Problems in falling asleep and/or staying asleep
  • Worrying about failing to fall asleep

Causes of nighttime anxiety

People live hectic lives, meeting with many people, going to all sorts of places, doing all sorts of things. During the day, it is normal for your mind to be connected to ongoing events. Once you leave the chaos behind you and arrive at your safe haven, your mind and body start to relax. This allows your mind to replay all the day’s events and you start becoming worried and anxious about what will happen in the future.

What you think about during the day, the things you worry about, the interactions you have and the things you do, can all cause nighttime anxiety. However, daily events are not the only cause of this nocturnal problem. Other causes might include having a history of trauma, anxiety disorders, depression, excessive stress levels, medication etc.

Having a good night’s sleep is essential. Some might take it for granted but being able to rest during the night is a contributing factor to your overall well-being during the day. Fatigue can affect your mood, and ability to concentrate and impact your mental health.

Luckily, you can get rid of nighttime anxiety. There are things you can do, quite simple things, actually, that will help you eliminate your anxiety and reclaim your quality sleep. Read on to find out how to reduce nighttime anxiety and get back on track.

Go for a walk (around the house)

The simple action of getting out of bed and getting your body into motion can do wonders. Treat yourself to a warm drink (no coffee), dim the lights, and just take a walk around your home. You’ll soon notice that you start to feel calmer and more relaxed.

This is something that many people do, mostly without realizing, when talking on the phone. They walk around the room to calm themselves. This also works in the case of children, when they’re nervous and anxious. Walking with them calms them down and helps them fall asleep easier.

Keep records

Writing everything down before going to bed might prove useful in reducing nighttime anxiety. Having your thoughts and feelings right in front of you can help you get rid of the negative associations and eliminate the stress of having to deal with certain things in the future. Knowing that you managed to release some of the pressure will help you reduce the anxiety of having to deal with certain things when you wake up.

Think of fun things

When you can’t fall asleep, try thinking of funny things, happy moments, or whatever brings you joy. Happy thoughts will help your mind relax. Even if you’re just imagining things, the simple act of thinking about them will help reduce your anxiety and feel more relaxed.

Read also: Eat These 8 Foods to Calm Anxiety (and Avoid These 6)

Grounding exercise

If you feel on the verge of a panic attack, take deep breaths and try a grounding exercise. Exhale slowly and long and inhale sharply. Practice this method a few times, activating all your senses. You need to find five things to touch, four things to see, three things to hear, two things to smell and one thing to taste. This grounding exercise will efficiently lower your stress levels, reduce anxiety, and help you calm down.

Sensory distractions

Let’s say you’ve tried all the things mentioned above and still have panic and anxiety attacks during the night. Then it’s time to find other ways to distract yourself. One method recommended by experts is to take something warm, like a cloth with warm water, and touch your face, neck and behind the ears. It will work as a sensory distraction and help your mind and body return to the present.

Another sensory method is aromatherapy. Essential oils such as lavender, frankincense etc. are widely known for having a calming effect.

Photo by fizkes on Shutterstock

Practice deep breathing

It might sound cliché, but taking deep breaths can effectively reduce your anxiety and stress levels. To activate the parasympathetic nervous system, inhale as usual and exhale in long sequences. You should try breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. According to experts, breathing exercises have impressive effects on reducing adrenaline and stress levels.

Soothe your nighttime anxiety

Nighttime anxiety can turn your whole life upside down. But you don’t have to just accept it and live with it. You can take action to get rid of it. If nothing seems to work, consider seeking help from a physician or therapist. They might help you get to the bottom of your concerns and worries in ways that you might not have access to otherwise.

If you want to find a mental health professional in your area, you can consult one of these sources:



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