Stress and anxiety are two factors of life that are just a reality; especially for adults. As human beings we learn to adapt and handle pressures from work, school, family and day-to-day tasks pretty well. General life experiences are probably the best teachers to show us what we can handle and what we are capable of. As a result; have you ever noticed that you don’t think so much about your worries or “bigger” life issues during the day time, but that when you lay down at night it all comes rushing at you? Do you find yourself waking up with anxiety in the middle of the night?
Nighttime is when human beings are the most vulnerable and it can be traced to our ancestors when just about anything and everything on this planet was trying to kill us. Yes, many thousands of years ago, when the sun set – it was rarely a safe place. These instincts are still hard-wired into us; except now our brains usually deal with anxiety over paying bills, what will come of our futures, will our loved ones always be safe and plenty of what ifs!
It’s incredibly common for just about anyone to feel vulnerable and have nighttime anxiety ruin a solid night’s sleep. And it can sometimes be terrifying. But don’t despair.
Here are some suggestions for the next time you find suffer from nocturnal anxiety..
Reducing Panic Attacks At Night
Whenever I wake up with anxiety and feel a panic attack coming on the first thing I try to do is breath. You’ve heard it a million times, but breathing techniques really do wonders. The real trick is remembering to breath, because anxiety and panic attacks can be so intense that it cancels out all other thought processes or rational thinking. Make sure to focus only on continuous breathing and try to imagine your body and mind slowing down. Do this for several minutes. Then get up and remove yourself from the bed. You need to go sit and move the energy if possible.
Next, Acknowledge the very thoughts that are triggering it. I understand that I am already having these specific thoughts about life, but I have to think about the thoughts themselves.
It’s important that you tell yourself “I know that I have every right to feel anxious about ___________”, but night time is a tool for sleeping; not a tool for solving problems “physically“. It is not a good moment to present resources to fix worries now. Also remind yourself that the world is not caving in around you and that it’s common for anyone to having worrying thoughts at night.
You also should remind yourself that you probably have a lot ahead of you and have all the time in the world to solve your concerning problems. Plus….the big one. You don’t always KNOW for certain that those “Scary” things in your mind will ever play out that negatively. In other words – remind yourself of miracles, that life is designed to work in your favor and that you are capable enough to overcome any of life’s obstacles IN THE DAY TIME.
Now think about that. There’s nothing you need to do to conquer stress when all that is required of you is to rest. This is the time to let that computer in your head meditate and program subconscious solutions into your being to help you with tomorrow. Sounds pretty way out, but that’s what your brain is – a VERY active computer that is constantly heat-seeking solutions to life’s problems. That’s how we survive. It works best when it can focus the majority of your body’s power on itself….at night!
3. Make a list
If you can identify what is specifically causing you to wake up with anxiety then get a notepad and document all of your concerns. For some of us our minds tend to fixate on fears and the big “what-ifs?”. If they stay in your mind then they tend to fester. Get them out into reality on paper where you can see them. Make a to-do list of fears and you may feel enough sense of accomplishment that you can get back to sleep feeling like you did something about it.
Try These Amazing Natural Remedies For Nighttime Anxiety
Try getting up and taking a calcium supplement the next time you find yourself waking up with anxiety. You can also start taking Vitamin D as this too has directly linked in numerous studies with depression and anxiety. It’s also recommended for those who struggle with S.A.D. Likewise, you may also investigate taking Magnesium. There is much evidence to suggest that most people do not get nearly enough magnesium for their benefit. Whenever I wake up with a panic attack I’ll immediately go and take a couple of calcium and magnesium supplements. I find that within the hour I feel calmer and it helps me personally to get to sleep.
Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb that comes in powder form. You can mix just a little bit with juice or water, but I find that a cup of hot water with about 1 tsp mixed in really makes me feel relaxed. A caution for you – if you consider picking some up, please try it in a small amount at first to see how your body handles it. It can make you feel a little light-headed. But it’s thought to help with stress, healing, depression and anxiety. If you’re looking for something that may quickly calm your mind – give this one a shot.
Chamomile tea is another suggestion that might just become your new “nightly-ally”. This favorite, hot beverage contains Matricaria recutita which is a type of compound that binds to certain helpful brain receptors. Not only does it help you to relax, but it also tastes pretty delicious as well.
Valerian Root which you can acquire in supplement form has always been an old standby in my family. It acts as a type of “mild tranquilizer”. So if you experience bouts of insomnia after suffering from a frightening panic attack in the middle of the night – give this a shot. In fact in Europe it’s recognized as potential sleep aid.
Rescue Remedy is a fantastic, all-natural herbal concoction. Although it’s a smart solution to carry with you for when you feel anxiety coming on, it can also help in the middle of the night. This has always been a go-to formula in my family and it’s even safe for your pets!
The general methodology to this is simply:
- Breath and calm your mind – first take control to stop the thoughts and lessen the symptoms (shallow breathing, hysterical feelings, sweating, heart palpitations, etc). Give it a second. You need to come down and be gentle with yourself. You’re experiencing a little nighttime PTSD.
- Re-frame what is going on. You need to remove yourself from the place where you had the attack (your bed usually). Go into another room where it is dark and sit for a moment. Consider the thoughts that caused your attack. Usually these don’t seem like thoughts, but are manifested into very frightening feelings and sensations. This is when your thoughts have subconsciously gotten so out of control that they are activating your “fight-or-flight” response. This is unnecessary and I find it helpful to view it as a trick.
- Document. If you can identify specific thought patterns that you feel are the cause of your anxiety then journal about them or make a list. Yes, even at night. The idea here is to get it out of your thought processes and to make yourself feel like you’re doing something about your worries. Let your mind go to sleep knowing that you at least acknowledged these thoughts and are taking some action.
- Take something. Above there are some excellent suggestions for some natural sleep and relaxation aids that can help get your body and mind calmed down again. You’ve just been through a lot. Now your body is pumped with stimulation after an anxiety attack during sleep. That’s like drinking 12 espresso shots and then laying down for a nap. You need some herbal tea, supplements, aromatherapy or something that puts you back into the right state.
- Return to breathing. When you get ready to lay back down return to the breathing. Breath in 1-2-3 through your nose, slowly and then exhale. Do this until you start to feel yourself grow tired. You need time to allow any natural sleep aid to work its magic and the breathing helps calm the whole body.
Anxiety is a part of life, but it does not have to ruin your life. It can be used as a tool rather than a crippling curse. There will never be a complete solution for these tendencies, but try to take comfort in knowing that we all experience them and hopefully these suggestions will help you If you’re waking up with anxiety in the middle of the night.