Remember That It Will Pass
During a panic attack, it can help to remember that these feelings will pass and cause no physical harm, however scary it feels at the time.
Try acknowledging that this is a brief period of concentrated anxiety, and that it will be over soon.
Panic attacks tend to reach their most intense point within 10 minutes of their onset, and then the symptoms will begin to subside.
Can Nighttime Panic Attacks Be Prevented
According to Dr. Bea, one of the characteristics of true panic is that it occurs spontaneously like a bolt of lightning across a blue sky. While we cant prevent sleep panic attacks, he says that we can develop more effective mechanisms for coping with the stressors in our lives.
You might increase exercise or start a mindfulness practice. Overall, it doesnt hurt to actively develop coping strategies. However, understand that doing these things may or may not influence the experience of a nighttime panic attack.
Whats another thing you can do to lessen the intensity of a sleep panic attack? Normalize the experience.
Dr. Bea explains.
These experiences feel threatening and dangerous. You fear the worst when your hearts racing, youre short of breath, youre trembling and you have a sense of impending doom or feel like youre losing control, he says.
As frightening as the experience is, its safe. Of course, when we have a catastrophic thought or appraisal of the event, it tends to drive more panic it gets our body aroused. Learn to normalize that experience, to notice the sensations but dont try to fix them.
Dr. Bea compares it to being in quicksand.
After a sleep panic attack, youre not going to recover quickly and go right back to sleep. Dr. Bea recommends getting up and going into another room to do a relaxing activity . No catching up on work or paying bills. Do something that will help you calm down until youre able to go back to sleep.
How Can I Cope With Panic Attacks At Night
Waking up in the middle of a panic attack is a stressful and scary thing to experience, and not knowing how to deal with the panic attack can actually make you panic more, which then makes the panic attack worse or last longer.
However, there are some things you can do to minimise the severity and length of your panic attack:
- Breathe through it
There is no point in trying to fight against the panic attack as that will only make things worse and prolong your attack. Instead, focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. This will not only take your mind off of the attack itself as you will be focusing on your breathing, it will also give you some control over the situation.
- Try to distract yourself
Once youve got the breathing sorted, try to focus on something other than the panic attack.
Some people like to think of an event they are looking forward to or their favourite song, but you could also go through the alphabet and think of a name for each letter from A Z. Anything positive that takes your mind off your panic attack will work.
- Get up out of bed
After your panic attack has passed, it is not a good idea to lie there thinking about how stressful it was. Instead, get up and do something calming to take your mind off it.
A calming activity like gentle stretching, colouring or even making a soothing hot drink are all things that can take your mind off your panic attack and help to calm you down.
- Listen to soothing sounds
Recommended Reading: Which Is Worse Bipolar Or Bpd
Gerd Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD, has also been linked to sleeping panic attacks. GERD itself is an irritating but fairly benign disorder. But it can affect you in your sleep, especially if you ate too soon before going to bed. Lying down after eating increases GERD symptoms considerably, and each of these symptoms represents a potential trigger for panic attacks:
- Chest pains
- Night sweats
Some people also have trouble breathing, sore throats, and other issues that can become panic attack triggers. Many of those with nighttime GERD do not notice that they have any symptoms at night unless they wake up, and even if they wake up they simply deal with the discomfort and go back to sleep.
But others with tendencies toward anxiety are not so lucky, and it’s possible that their anxiety and GERD combine to increase the likelihood of nocturnal panic attacks.
How To End An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
An anxiety attack can be terrifying, but it wont kill you. If you want to overcome it, take a deep breath and know it will end soon.
“Anxiety” is a general term that describes a variety of experiences, including nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry, that are common in several mental health disorders. While most of us have anxiety at some time, this is completely different from an anxiety attack or anxiety disorder. Normal feelings of nervousness, worry, and fear often have a known trigger . But when you’re having a full blown panic attack or anxiety attack, the symptoms chest pain, flushing skin, racing heart, and difficulty breathing can make you feel as though you’re going to faint, lose your mind, or die. The reality is, you wont. The key to surviving is to learn all you can about anxiety attacks and practice the skills you need to get through them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of an anxiety attack include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Trembling or shaking
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers practical strategies in how to deal with stress and anxiety attacks, including:
- Accept that you cannot control everything.
- Do your best.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety.
Here’s how to stop an anxiety attack and recover.
Read Also: Blair Waldorf Bulimia
The Next Day And Beyond
Someone who just had a first nocturnal panic attack is likely to find himself worrying about having another one. The thought “what if I have one tonight?” is likely to occur to you the next day. That’s a natural, ordinary response. It’s just you experiencing a little nervousness, and it will be best to allow yourself to notice that thought without getting into a struggle with it.
People often respond to this worry by focusing more on their prospects for sleep. They think a lot about what time to go to bed try to tire themselves out during the day think about taking sleeping medication, or alcoholic beverages, to ensure sleep review all the important activities they have scheduled at work, home, or school, and worry that they’ll be unable to function if they don’t sleep, and so on.
It’s these very efforts which lead to more trouble with sleep anxiety.
Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
Although its taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.
You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because youre worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.
I felt like I couldnt breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldnt because I was on a train.
Also Check: Bipolar And Bpd Comorbid
Try Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Another symptom of panic attacks is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help limit an attack. This is because if the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms such as rapid breathing may also diminish.
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
This involves tensing up and then relaxing various muscles in turn. To do this:
Causes Of Panic Attacks During Sleep
Some of the common causes of panic attacks during sleep are as follows:Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease/GERD: Even though GERD is a fairly benign digestive condition, it can affect the quality of sleep, especially if a heavy meal is consumed before sleeping. GERD related panic attacks during sleep may cause symptoms like stomach pressure, chest pains, sweating, lightheadedness, and hyperventilation.
Sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of panic attacks during sleep. It is a common condition caused by obstruction in the upper respiratory system. The episode may last for nearly 30 seconds and is marked by hypoventilation or no breathing. This can trigger increased cardiac stress and symptoms similar to a heart attack. The sleep disorder mostly affects overweight or obese individuals.
Night Terrors/nightmares: A nightmare can cause you to wake up from sleep and result in symptoms like hyperventilation or fast breathing, increased heart beats, etc. These symptoms can then trigger panic attacks during sleep.How to react to panic attacks during sleep?
It is not possible to go back to sleep right after a panic attack during sleep. Presented below are different responses to a panic attack when sleeping:
You May Like: Anxiety Cause Burning Sensation
Limit Caffeine And Other Stimulants
For many people, cutting out caffeine from their diet can be very difficult, but caffeine can greatly hamper your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, as a stimulant, caffeine can make your anxiety much more pronounced, and you may have a difficult time calming down if you drink excessive amounts of coffee.
It could also be getting in the way of you achieving a good nights sleep. Try avoiding caffeine at least four to five hours prior to when you want to go to bed.
If you know of any other forms of stimulants that you may be taking, try avoiding those at least a few hours before bedtime, as well.
Additionally, some recent studies, such as one conducted by Harvard Health, have come to find that blue light can keep the brain active, stimulated, and awake, as it suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. This is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, so try avoiding blue light, or wearing amber glasses to suppress the effects of the light, at least two hours prior to bedtime.
The End Of Everything: What A Panic Attack Feels Like
Only 16, Caroline, had her first panic attack a year ago. Her mother was dropping her off at her summer job at a local school when, without warning, a full-blown panic attack engulfed her. My heart started racing and my body felt so hot. I started to sweat and shake uncontrollably. My vision became distorted and my body felt limp, like a wet noodle, she says. For 20 minutes, until the panic attacked passed, Caroline refused to get out of the car. Her mother didnt know what to do.
Kirstie Craine Ruiz, 46, has lived with anxiety, panic attacks, and panic disorder for about ten years. For a long time, she had full-blown attacks 2-3 nights a week. I would usually awake to a racing heart or the feeling of my heart expanding in my chestas it might explodeFrom there, I would begin to panic and my heart would go even fasterand my body would shake so hard that it felt like I was having a convulsion. I could barely breathe and was usually pretty sure I was having a heart attack and that I was going to die. Sometimes Id go the ER and theyd hold me overnight because my heart would be going so fast and they couldnt get it to go down.
You May Like: Can You Blackout During A Panic Attack
Calming Step : Focus On Breathing
Your breath affects your mental state, so breathing is a crucial part of stopping a panic attack.
During a panic attack, your breathing speeds up, a signal that your body is in fight-or-flight mode, Dr. Josell says. Rapid breathing sends a clear signal that youre in danger, but slow, deep breathing helps to turn off the fight-or-flight response.
If You Have A Nocturnal Panic Attack Get Up And Do Something
If you are unlucky enough to wake up from a nocturnal panic attack, do not fear. For most people, especially those familiar with daytime panic attacks, the symptoms will resolve themselves pretty quickly on their own. If not, just remember that youre simply having a panic attack and will not die it will likely be over within 3-10 minutes. Regain control of your breathing by inhaling for 6 seconds through your nose, and out for 6 seconds through your mouth.
With your panic attack under control, you still may feel a bit shaken up or restless and unable to sleep. If this is the case, no worries. Dont toss and turn anxiously for hours. Instead, get yourself out of bed, get moving, and find something else to do with the time.
Take an early morning run on the treadmill, organize your closet, take a shower, start cooking breakfast, etc. Just get moving and get your mind off your anxiety. Backpedal a few of these steps and try to run through your bedtime ritual. When youre feeling tired, relaxed, and ready to sleep again, you can give it another go.
Loved this? Spread the word
Read Also: Four Subtypes Of Schizophrenia
Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia was traditionally thought to involve a fear of public places and open spaces. However, it is now believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks and panic disorder. Although it can develop at any point, agoraphobia usually appears within a year of your first recurrent panic attacks.
If youre agoraphobic, youre afraid of having a panic attack in a situation where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. You may also be afraid of having a panic attack where you wouldnt be able to get help. Because of these fears, you start avoiding more and more situations.
For example, you may begin to avoid:
- Crowded places such as shopping malls or sports arenas.
- Cars, airplanes, subways, and other forms of travel.
- Social gatherings, restaurants, or other situations where it would be embarrassing to have a panic attack.
- Physical exercise in case it triggers panic.
- Certain food or drinks that could provoke panic, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or specific medications.
- Going anywhere without the company of someone who makes you feel safe. In more severe cases, you might only feel safe at home.
Get A Bed That Fits You
When you sleep on an uncomfortable mattress, pressure points build up on your body, causing you to toss and turn. A supportive mattress and pillow provide support to the contours of your body and neck, and keep you cool and comfortable for sleep.
For drool-worthy sleep at a price point that wont break the bank, you may want to check out the Casper Original Mattress. Engineered for cool, comfortable sleep, the Casper Original provides targeted layers of support and unique cooling perforations so you can spend less time counting sheep and more time catching Zs.
If youre looking for that sleeping-on-a-cloud experience, the Casper Nova Hybrid may be the right option for you. As our most plush mattress yet, the Casper Nova provides sturdy support with a luxuriously soft top layer so you can sleep worry-free.
Recommended Reading: Was Audrey Hepburn Anorexia
What Causes Panic Attacks While Sleeping
Nocturnal panic attacks occur without any trigger and wake a person from sleeping. Just as the panic attacks which occur during the day, panic attacks when sleeping, are characterized by extreme fear, faster heartbeat, heavy breathing, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, trembling, flushing, etc. A good thing with panic attacks is that regardless if they occur during the day or while sleeping they are harmless and not dangerous at all. Even though it might look like a person is in a serious condition, its all only due to extreme fear and nothing else.
Panic attacks when sleeping last only for a couple of minutes. However, a person might need hours to calm down and be normal again. Often those experiencing panic attacks while sleeping have panic attacks also during the day.
What are the causes of panic attacks at night? Here are the most common causes of nocturnal panic attacks:
GERD Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD is a condition affecting the gastrointestinal system, but it can also affect the quality of sleep. This is especially true if you consume a large meal before going to sleep. GERD signs and symptoms like stomach pressure, sweating, lightheadedness, chest pain and hyperventilation lead to panic attacks when sleeping.
Nightmares are another cause of panic attacks while sleeping. It does wake up a person from sleep causing hyperventilation, faster heartbeat, etc. All these symptoms of a nightmare can trigger a panic attack.
There Was A Night That I Thought That The Light Had Come Crashing Down From The Ceiling And Had Landed On My Bed And I Felt That The Bed Was Alive With Electricity
There was one night when I dreamt that spiders were falling down, were raining down from the ceiling on me and I do live in Australia but its not normal to get spiders raining down on you through the night.
So that was quite scary at the time, especially for not knowing what it was and not understanding what it was, not realizing what it was.
I had thoughts going through my head of, Am I crazy? Why is this happening to me? What can I do to stop this? And I think the biggest one was, Whats causing this to happen?
So, fast forward, its now 20 years since that time and I am now 36 years old, Im an energy healer, I help women with anxiety attacks and panic attacks and all sorts of anxiety.
Also Check: Apiphobia Definition