The Last Word About Nocturnal Panic Attacks
Dealing with nocturnal panic attacks, particularly for the first time, is not easy, especially since the symptoms can be somewhat similar to that of having a heart attack. That said, aside from learning why panic attacks happen, its important that you know what nocturnal panic attacks treatment is available to you. Most PD patients undergo cognitive therapy along with medications to help reduce their panic attacks, while some are given prescription medications alone. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis of a specialist.
It is understandable that experiencing signs and symptoms of nocturnal panic attacks may be scary, but the good news is that help is out there. Just follow the tips mentioned above on how to deal with the symptoms, and youll find yourself going back to sleep in no time. However, if you find that your panic attacks are becoming severe, make sure to schedule a visit with your doctor immediately.
Dont Go To Bed Hungry Or After A Big Meal
If youve already read our article on how to diet for anxiety relief, you know the food we eat plays a massive role on our anxiety levels. In addition to making sure youre eating a diet optimized for mental health, its also important to keep your eating habits in mind before bed.
Going to bed too hungry, or just after eating a large meal, can both be causes of nocturnal panic attacks. If were too hungry, our blood sugar levels can drop, causing our body to release epinephrine that can make us feel anxious. If weve just eaten a large meal before bed, we can experience indigestion and gastrointestinal discomfort which can also cause anxiety at night after all, the gut is often regarded as our second brain.
In my own experience, Ive noticed that overeating before bed will absolutely ruin my sleep. Ive gotten in from red eye flights late enough to make it to the hotels continental breakfast at 6am. After stuffing my face at the buffet and trying to sleep immediately afterward, I definitely realized what a mistake that is. Trying to sleep on a full, or upset stomach, can cause sleep anxiety similar to the way that caffeine or alcohol does. This is probably made worse by eating something youre allergic to like someone who is lactose intolerance eating cheese before bed.
Id give yourself at least an hour between eating and sleeping. I like to brush my teeth after my last meal to discourage myself from sneaking any midnight snacks.
Summer Travel Tip: Managing Nocturnal Panic Attacks And Insomnia
Summer trips can be a fun way to see other parts of the country and create lasting memories. However, for those who suffer from anxiety disorder, being away from home and familiar routines can cause a worsening of symptoms that lead to other issues. In particular, heightened anxiety can lead to nocturnal panic attacks and insomnia. Thankfully, these issues can be addressed and increase the odds of getting the restful nights sleep you need.
Nighttime Panic: More Common than You Might Think
People tend to think of panic attacks as episodes that occur exclusively during the day. However, nocturnal panic attacks are not uncommon. When they strike, it can be especially disorienting as you are half asleep and trying to understand whats going on. They may result in you feeling especially vulnerable in darkness and because your family is sleeping and not available to comfort and reassure you.
Needless to say, a nighttime panic attack disturbs your sleep.This can be true both as the attack is underway and on subsequent nights if you get into bed fearing another attack may occur. This can result in recurring insomnia.
How to Manage a Nocturnal Panic Attack
After a Nocturnal Panic Attack
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When To Seek Medical Attention
The first time one experiences a panic attack, one should seek medical attention promptly in order to check oneâs overall physical and mental health and discuss the possibility and prevention of future panic attacks.
It is not uncommon for an individual, who has experienced a panic attack, to feel embarrassment in telling their family or doctor. Many people are unaware of how common it is to experience a panic attack and/or that it could relate to panic disorder or another form of anxiety â conditions, which are highly treatable with appropriate psychotherapy and/or medication.
Even if one is not diagnosed with a mental health condition, oneâs doctor will be able to advise on management techniques in the event that a future panic attack occurs and will be able to perform check-ups to rule out other conditions or health concerns. For example, one may be screened to rule out the risk of a heart attack, particularly if one believed that one was experiencing a heart attack during the episode.
Why Is Sleep Altered In Pd
A recent literature review highlighted the need for studies to go beyond mere descriptions of sleep disturbances and to investigate the role of sleep disturbances in the development and maintenance of PD . Research on the impact of cognitive activity on sleep yielded important insights into the onset of insomnia in PD. Studies of the possible links between repetitive thought and various sleep characteristics in college students indicated that repetitive thoughts impact sleep . Since patients with PD often worry about having panic attacks, it is possible that reported sleep alterations could be associated with repetitive worry about future panic. This hypothesis is consistent with Harveys cognitive model of insomnia, which proposes that excess negative cognitive activity plays a central role in the maintenance of insomnia.
In patients with PD, the content of repetitive thinking often relates to possible panic attacks and their consequences. Patients develop a fear of anxiety itself, i.e., anxiety sensitivity . Researchers have found that, in patients with PD, anxiety sensitivity is linked to insomnia and, in particular, to longer sleep latency . Authors hypothesized that anxiety sensitivity makes patients monitor their anxiety signs and symptoms and could increase levels of cognitive, emotional, and physiological activation . This state of activation could disrupt the healthy course of sleep .
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Panic Attacks For Medical Reasons
Factors such as thyroid problems, apnea and reflux can lead to these violent and exhausting night time awakenings.
Thus, its advisable to put the following strategies into practice:
- Tell your doctor what is happening.
- Continue with the appropriate treatment for your illness: thyroid problems, gastroesophageal reflux
- Follow medical recommendations to get a good nights sleep.
- Find out whether the medication youre taking can affect your quality of sleep.
- Try living an active life, as physical exercise is a good regulator for anxiety attacks.
- After a nocturnal panic attack, its recommended to get up and do some non-stimulating daily routine: tidy something up, brush your teeth or hair
- Its not a good idea to go and watch TV or have a shower, because in this case youll have trouble getting back to sleep.
What Are Causes And Triggers Of Panic Attacks
As with most behavioral illnesses, the causes of panic attacks are many. Certainly there is evidence that the tendency to have panic attacks can sometimes be inherited. However, there is also evidence that panic may be a learned response and that the attacks can be initiated in otherwise healthy people simply given the right set of circumstances. Research into the causes of panic attacks is ongoing.
Panic disorder is a separate but related diagnosis to panic attacks. People experiencing repeated panic attacks and who meet other diagnostic criteria may be diagnosed with this illness. Panic disorder is thought to have more of an inherited component than panic attacks that are not a part of panic disorder. Certain medical conditions, like asthma and heart disease, as well as certain medications, like steroids and some asthma medications, can cause anxiety attacks as a symptom or side effect. As individuals with panic disorder are at higher risk of having a heart-valve abnormality called mitral valve prolapse , that should be evaluated by a doctor since MVP may indicate that specific precautions be taken when the person is treated for a dental problem.
Research is inconsistent as to whether nutritional deficiencies may be risk factors for panic disorder. While food additives like aspartame, alone or in combination with food dyes, are suspected to play a role in the development of panic attacks in some people, it has not been confirmed by research so far.
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What Helps To Manage Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. It could help to print off these tips, or write them down, and keep them somewhere easy to find.
During a panic attack:
- Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
- Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
- Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control. They’re especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks. See our page on self-care for dissociation for more information on grounding techniques.
After a panic attack:
- Think about self-care. It’s important to pay attention to what your body needs after you’ve had a panic attack. For example, you might need to rest somewhere quietly, or eat or drink something.
- Tell someone you trust. If you feel able to, it could help to let someone know you’ve had a panic attack. It could be particularly helpful to mention how they might notice if you’re having another one, and how you’d like them to help you.
Anxiety Attacks At Night
Have you ever been jolted awake by a grip of anxiety attack at night? This type of attack is commonly referred to as nocturnal or nighttime panic attack. It usually occurs with no obvious triggers in place. Just like daytime panic attack, victims of this problem experience rapid heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, trembling, hyperventilation, sense of impending doom, chills, or flushing. Although the anxiety attack may only last for a few minutes, it may take you some time to get back to sleep.
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Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
“Although it’s 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 you’re 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 couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.”
How You Manage Daytime Panic Attacks Might Help You At Night
Dr. Bea says the stress management techniques that you rely on during the day can help you recover from sleep panic attacks. While theres no surefire method, he says that normalizing the experience regardless of when it occurs can make a huge difference. The purpose of this is to get to a place where you no longer feel threatened or disturbed by the panic attack.
Thinking about how you feel after a stressful event is an observational strategy that keeps you from trying to fix the experience. When you dont try to fix things, the sensations in your body are going to pass pretty quickly.
If youre driving in your car and someone cuts you off, youre going to jerk the wheel to avoid the collision. Your brain and body are going to be activated very quickly so even though youve avoided danger, youre still going to feel on edge, he says.
But if you continue to drive and simply notice the sensations in your body, theyll dissipate on their own. The same strategy can be used in the midst of a panic episode. Simply noticing the sensations, perhaps rating the discomfort then noticing the remaining sensations can be much more useful than taking any steps to fix the panicky feeling.
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Does Sleep Apnea Trigger Nighttime Panic Attacks
Dr. Bea says that panic is not necessarily triggered by sleep apnea. Sleep panic attacks tend to happen during certain stages of sleep. And theyre not related to sleep terrors. Sleep terrors occur in different phases of sleep as well. However, sleep troubles can create stress. Any stressor thats acting on you can potentially cause your brain and body to be a little bit more aroused.
What To Do If You Have A Panic Attack While Sleeping
Panic attacks can occur suddently at night and cause overwhelming anxiety. Here’s what to do if you have a panic attack while sleeping…
If you experience a panic attack while sleeping, it can leadto a sudden onset of fear and anxiety. Nocturnal panic attacks can occur for noobvious reason, and once your sleep is disrupted it could cause you to laythere in dread, wondering what to do.
Lets discuss why panic attacks happen at night and what youcan do if you find yourself in such a situation.
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How Are Panic Attacks And Agoraphobia Related
Agoraphobia is fear or anxiety of being in a situation where you feel you cannot escape or that help might not be available if you need it, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at Montefiore Health System in New York City. When people with panic disorder worry about experiencing another panic attack and not being able to escape or get help, it can lead to agoraphobia, he says. Most but not all people with panic disorder have agoraphobia.
They Can Be Scary And Disorienting Here’s How To Cope With Manage And Even Prevent Panic Attacks At Night
If you have ever experienced a panic attack, youre not alone. In fact, a larger number of people experience panic attacks than you might think.
Panic attacks can occur at any time of the day. You can even be awakened out of your sleep with symptoms like an accelerated heartbeat, sweaty palms, and shortness of breath.
Panic attacks at night are not uncommon and although they can disrupt your daily life and lead to chronic sleep anxiety, there is hope. There are steps you can take before, during, and after experiencing a nocturnal panic attack that may help treat and prevent them.
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So What Happens To Youwhen This Happens And How Does It Feel
A nocturnal panic attack is a panic attack which happens in the middle of the night and wakes you from sleep usually after a very bad dream.
Not very much is written about nocturnal Panic attacks and it is a symptom that I receive lots of correspondence to the web site about.
Things always seem worse at night when the world is still and relaxed, especially when relaxing is the last thing that you can do comfortably when you are trying to cope with sensations of Panic.
While I was going through the severe point of my Panic Disorder problems I suffered with Nocturnal Panic attacks and if I am honest I found them probably one of the most frightening parts of Anxiety that I had to deal with.
This was not because they cause harm, it was because I didnt know what they were and because they felt so sudden. Duringthe day I could at least feel a Panic attack building and then when it happened I could try to take my mind off of it by talking to someone or keeping myself busy. Howeverat night the only time I knew about it seemed to be when I had a nightmare and woke suddenly feeling fearful and disoriented and then I remember feeling very alone as the rest of my family was asleep and there seemed to be nothing else but to lie there in fear and hope that it would pass over. I felt very vulnerable as not only was my daytime disrupted but my night time was too. Anxiety never gave me relief during the day or at night.
Unresolved Issues Concerning The Prevalence Of Npa In Patients With Pd
The results of NPA prevalence studies vary significantly. For example, Schredl et al. reported an NPA prevalence rate of 37%, whereas Stein et al. reported a figure almost twice as high . Moreover, different authors use different frequency criteria, ranging from at least one lifetime NPA , to two to four NPA per year , to a minimum of four NPA per month , or to many times per week . A summary of the data is indicated in order to gain clarity on the rate of NPA in patients with PD.
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Nocturnal Panic Attacks Generally Occur When An Individual Is In Between Stages 2 And 3 Of Sleep
Nocturnal panic attacks generally occur when an individual isWhen Do Nocturnal Panic Attacks Occur?Nocturnal panic attacks generally occur when an individual’s body transitions from stage two sleep, which is light, to stage three sleep, which is deep sleep. This usually occurs within 90 minutes of falling asleep.
Causes Of Nighttime Panic Attacks
The exact causes of nighttime panic attacks are not well understood by professionals. Some believe these attacks are the result of high stress levels, a genetic predisposition, or certain changes in brain functioning.2,4
Factors that may cause a person to have panic attacks while sleeping include:2,4
- Genetics. Having family members with a history of anxiety and panic can result in increased risk.
- High stress
- Sleep disorders
- Underlying medical issues like thyroid problems
- Physiological issues in the brain that communicate that the body is awake when it is actually asleep
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