Anxiety at night is very similar to anxiety during the day. But there’s one big difference. Throughout the day, you’re usually preoccupied with tasks, interests, and responsibilities. By the time you prepare for bed, however, you typically have more space for fixation and worry. Add to this the likelihood that night anxiety will impact your sleep, and everything escalates.
Of course, occasional nighttime anxiety is inevitable. It could be caused by apprehension over upcoming events. You may also replay the day’s frustrations and stressors. This is normal and will quickly dissipate. That said, it’s essential that you differentiate this from an anxiety disorder.
Nighttime Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
- Chronic worry that impacts daily functions — including relationships
- Disproportionate and/or irrational fear
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Avoidance of social situations or certain people
- “Stress dreams” about mundane activities going horribly awry
- Panic attacks (and feelings of dread about impending panic attacks)
- Compulsive behaviors, e.g. checking that the door is locked or the stove is turned off
- Severe signs like flashbacks, nightmares, sleep paralysis, or night terrors
If at least one of these symptoms sounds familiar, you should speak to a professional. In the meantime, however, there are some important self-help steps you can take.
What You Can Do to Rest Well
Your state of mind is crucial. A powerful form of self-care involves the cultivation of relaxation techniques, e.g.
- Breathing exercises
- Tai Chi
But winding down doesn’t even have to be so specific. Relaxation is in the eye of the beholder. So, if a walk in the sun does the trick, do this as often as possible. The better you can de-stress during the day, the easier you can recall that state of mind at night. To follow are a few more steps you can take in advance to reduce the impact of a nighttime of anxiety.
Working up a sweat will lower your anxiety levels. It’ll also improve the quality of your sleep. Pro tip: Don’t exercise too close to bedtime. In that case, it could have the opposite effect.
Make Your Beverage Choices Carefully
Anything containing alcohol or caffeine can ramp up your sleep problems. Water is always the better choice unless it’s too close to lights out. You don’t want to increase anxiety with too many nighttime bathroom trips.
Step Away From Your Technology
Another habit to curtail is nighttime staring at your phone, computer, or TV. The light coming from the screen is designed to keep you awake and alert. Also, turn off notifications as bedtime nears. Those updates and emails can hamper your quest for calm. Other helpful sources of evening serenity include:
- Listening to mellow music
- Reading a book
- Taking a warm bath
Make Your Bedroom a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Take the time to discern what works best for you. Then make changes pertaining to lightness/darkness, temperature, and noise level.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
You may be at a point where you need much more than temperature control in your bedroom. Unchecked nighttime anxiety will cause sleep issues. Sleep issues will negatively impact every aspect of your life. Needless to say, this cycle requires your full attention. The best first step is asking for help.
Working with a seasoned therapist is a powerful way to reverse this dangerous cycle. Your sessions will offer you a place where you can explore patterns, habits, and behaviors. Together, you and your counselor can address the underlying causes of your anxiety. From there, it becomes easier to manage the related issues. The path toward peace of mind begins by reading more about anxiety treatment, then reach out for a confidential consultation today.