Anxiety, in simple terms, is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a sense of fear or dread over what’s to come. Various factors can cause anxiety, be it work stress or relationship problems, and it is quite a common feeling experienced by most of us. Looking for an answer to your question on how to calm anxiety at night? Here we have come up with 14 useful tips for you!
However, you may have an anxiety disorder if your anxiety is severe and lasts more than six months, constantly interfering with your life. Anxiety disorders come in many forms, and while night-time anxiety is widespread and distressing, it is not classified as an anxiety disorder.
But do not worry if anxiety keeps you up at night as you are not the only one suffering like this. Nighttime anxiety is a problem faced by many people that ruins their sleep and health conditions, and just like you, they are also looking for an answer as to how to calm anxiety at night.
1. What Is Night-time Anxiety
Nighttime anxiety is a sort of performance anxiety characterized by a series of worrisome thoughts preceding bedtime, many of which are filled with unease, agitation, and fear.
Anxiety worsens at night, and the reason behind this is that when you put your mind at rest as the night falls, it begins to unwind, creating space for all the thoughts and worries that could not find a place in your busy mind during the day. This rush of anxious thoughts overwhelms your mind, making it almost impossible to sleep or rest, resulting in sleep problems.
2. Symptoms Of Nighttime Anxiety
Each person experiences anxiety differently, and thus the symptoms also appear in various forms, depending on person to person. However, some of the common symptoms of anxiety during the nighttime include –
- having trouble falling asleep
- finding it difficult to stay asleep
- night terrors
- unable to concentrate
- hypertension or high blood pressure (short-term)
- facing gastrointestinal problems
3. Impact Of Nighttime Anxiety
Nighttime anxiety can get you caught up in a vicious cycle, negatively impacting your day-to-day life.
Having an anxious mind creates trouble in falling asleep, leading to sleep deprivation which further leads to exhaustion the next day, causing poor performance and bad moods, and a decrease in productivity and learning. The cycle continues the following day and then the next, and this vicious cycle could eventually lead to depression.
Chronic insomnia and other disorders related to sleep occur due to nighttime anxiety as well. In some cases, it could also cause a panic disorder.
Because its impact is so severe, it is important to look into how to calm anxiety at night.
4. Nocturnal Panic Attacks
Nighttime anxiety takes another frightening form in the form of nocturnal panic attacks.
Panic attacks are sudden outbursts of extreme anxiety that can manifest as a range of terrifying symptoms that include –
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded,
- chest pains and difficulty in breathing,
- choking sensation,
- shivering and trembling,
- fluctuating body temperature,
- excessive sweating, etc.
Panic attacks and an anxiety disorder often go hand in hand, and efficiently managing your anxiety can also help reduce the chances of an attack.
5. How To Calm Anxiety At Night
Nights with anxiety can be harsh! But fortunately, there are a few answers to how to calm anxiety at night that would hopefully make things easier for you. Practicing good sleep hygiene is the way to a good night’s sleep. Good sleep habits and a proper bedtime routine reduce sleep problems and improve health conditions.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with and manage your anxiety levels at night, along with creating a healthy nighttime routine
5.1. Follow A Daily Routine
The best way to improve sleep quality is to have a routine, as having a routine will sort out your life in certain ways and reduce your anxiety levels.
Sleep patterns also play an important role, and going to bed at the same time each night trains your body to fall asleep at the same time every night.
In addition to sleeping, eating at the same time every day also helps regulate your body’s internal clock’ which controls your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
5.2. Through Exercise
Exercising regularly is another efficient way of reducing anxiety at night, as regular exercise releases endorphins and lowers the levels of stress hormones in your body. Moderate exercising daily also helps reduce sleep latency.
You should, however, avoid vigorous exercising before going to bed, at least an hour before your bedtime, and should resort to an afternoon workout.
5.3. Practising Meditation
Another answer to how to calm anxiety at night is meditation.
Meditation helps reduce anxiety, and even simple exercises like focusing on your breath for a few minutes daily will do wonders!
Diaphragmatic breathing relaxation techniques have been found in studies to reduce anxiety before night significantly.
5.4. By Limiting Screen Time
It is suggested that you limit your daily screen time and completely avoid screens before bedtime. Digital devices such as phones and laptops emit blue light that suppresses melatonin and tricks you into believing there is daylight. This would cause you trouble sleeping.
So, put down your phone and avoid using any digital screen for at least two hours before going to bed to get a good night’s rest.
5.5. Read Or Write Before Going To Bed
As mentioned above, screens should be avoided before bed; instead, you should try reading a book that will allow your mind to rest.
Journalling is also a great way to relax your mind before sleeping. Plus, journaling regularly also helps with anxiety and improves your mental condition.
5.6. Take A Warm Bath Before Bed
Having a relaxing bath in warm water before going to sleep is beneficial as it relaxes your body and mind. This helps ease anxiety levels and get a night of better sleep.
5.7. Limit Caffeine And Sugar Intake Before Bed
We already know that too much caffeine is not good for our health and substances like caffeine and sugar also make you feel jittery and anxious at night, leading to poor sleep. Thus, their intake should be limited, or even better, avoided before going to sleep.
5.8. Pre-Sleep Snacks
If you have sleep problems, having these snacks before bed helps improve sleep.
- Eat a bowl of tart cherries or drink tart cherry juice because tart cherries are a source of melatonin, a sleep aid that decreases inflammation in the body. Studies show that eating them can help you sleep for up to 85 minutes longer.
- Drink chamomile tea as clinical studies have indicated that this ancient herbal tea can aid with anxiety and sleep.
- Eat a few Brazil nuts as they are one of the richest sources of selenium globally, which can help your thyroid function properly and improve sleep.
5.9. Comfortable Environment To Fall Asleep
A comfortable and suitable environment to fall asleep helps ensure better sleep. By comfortable and suitable sleeping environment, it is basically meant that your bedroom should be peaceful, cozy, and softly lit; otherwise, you would be tormented by poor sleep.
Your bed should be the right size, the mattress should be comfortable, the room temperature should be according to your comfort, and there should not be too many bright lights in the room.
5.10. Prepare For The Next Day
Many people suffer from sleep disorders because they are anxious about the next day. You can manage anxiety relating to the following day by preparing for it in advance. For example, you can make a list of things to be done in advance, or you can do some of the work due tomorrow today itself.
In case you still find yourself struggling with anxiety during the dark hours of the night, here are some more tips specifically for that –
5.11. Write It Down
Putting your worries down on paper is a great way to deal with anxiety because, as they say, let the paper have your worries! Having a diary or a journal on your bedside is a good practice because when you note down your thoughts, it eases your mind and provides you with clarity, making it easier to identify the source of your anxious thoughts.
5.12. Listen To Soothing Music
Another idea on our list of how to calm anxiety at night is listening to music. Studies have proven that soothing music helps calm your nervous system. It lowers your blood pressure and heart rate and slows your breathing, and all these factors help improve sleep quality.
Practicing simple meditation such as deep breathing helps calm your anxious feelings. It helps you return to the present moment, away from your nervous thoughts.
5.14. Try Using An App
Various apps, such as Calm and Headspace, are available now that provide content to soothe your anxious mind and calm your thoughts. Such apps are also useful suggestions for how to calm anxiety at night and can be used while experiencing the same.
6. How To StopAa Nocturnal Panic Attack
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to stop panic attacks, especially a nocturnal panic attack as it usually happens while asleep. However, there are a few methods through which you can mitigate the impact and cope with the attack-
6.1. Try To Relax
Indeed, getting your mind and body to relax when suffering a panic attack can be difficult, and it is important to try. Start by deep breathing and lying down to relax your muscles and focus on your surroundings. Drinking some water can also help.
6.2. Don’t Fight It
It’s crucial not to resist a panic attack if you wake up with one, as it will only worsen. Accept the attack for what it is and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the emotions.
It’s important to remember that it’s merely a phase that will pass. All you have to do now is let it happen.
6.3. Find A Distraction
After recovering from a panic attack, you might be scared that if you go back to sleep, you’ll have another attack because you’re thinking about what caused the attack. That’s why it’s critical to do something to divert your attention away from your anxiety.
Getting out of bed and physically removing yourself from the place of the attack is the best thing you can do. Try doing something calming to distract yourself, such as yoga, listening to soothing music, reading a book, or even doing chores like rearranging your bookshelf.
Avoid overstimulating activities such as physical exercise, watching TV, or playing on your phone, as these might make it even more difficult to fall asleep again.
7. Treatment Options
While there are a few possible treatments for anxiety, it is important to remember that it would take time to find the most suitable treatment option for you. The treatment also does not happen overnight, and patience and persistence are the keys. Here is how you can get started with your treatment –
7.1. Consult A Mental Health Professional
People with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). May experience night-time anxiety, and it is best to talk to mental health professionals to find out the root cause of the anxiety, identify the underlying medical conditions, and follow an appropriate treatment.
Consulting a clinical psychologist or a relationship psychotherapist can also help you deal with anxiety disorders.
Medication can also help treat anxiety, panic disorders, and even sleep disorders such as chronic insomnia.
However, medications can also cause harmful side effects, especially if you are suffering from some health problems or medical conditions, and in some cases might even worsen your anxiety. So take medications only upon professional medical advice.
Dealing with anxiety, whether day or night, can be hard and cause you much distress. But it is necessary to remember that there are precautions and treatments to help you out.
The precautions mainly comprise habits that can take time to develop and settle into, and as far as the treatment is concerned, it also takes its own course of time.
So it is imperative for you to stay hopeful and be patient as there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope you found these tips useful and answered how to calm anxiety at night. If you know of more tips about calming anxiety at night, feel free to add them in the comment section!
Q: Why do I experience anxiety at night?
A: Anxiety at night can be caused by various factors, such as racing thoughts, worries, or feeling more vulnerable in the quiet and dark. Hormonal changes, lack of physical activity, or excessive caffeine intake during the day can also contribute to nighttime anxiety.
Q: What if my anxiety at night persists or worsens?
A: If your nighttime anxiety continues or worsens, it’s advisable to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide a proper diagnosis and offer appropriate treatment options, such as therapy or medication, if necessary.
Q: Should I consider seeking professional help for nighttime anxiety?
A: If your nighttime anxiety persists, significantly interferes with your daily functioning, or causes significant distress, it is advisable to seek professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide guidance, support, and evidence-based interventions tailored to your specific needs.