Why Anxiety Flares at Night – How to Understand Sleep Issues

Posted by Counseling Wise on June 10, 2019

Anxiety comes with many different symptoms. This includes anything from a racing heart to feeling nervous. If you struggle with anxiety, however, do you find it gets worse at night?

If so, you’re not alone. At night, you may be ready to relax and get comfortable when you’re getting into bed. But, that’s not always the case for people with anxiety.

Unfortunately, the condition can flare up at any time, which makes trying to get some sleep with anxiety even more frustrating. Yet, there’s a good reason why it tends to become a bigger problem for some people as the day winds down.

Let’s find out why.

Quieting Your Mind Can Let Anxiety In

Think about your typical day. You probably go to work or school, take care of kids, run errands, talk with your spouse, etc. In between the “big” things are a bunch of little things like driving around and dealing with busy highways. Or, forgetting your lunch on the counter at home.

Even just thinking about dealing with all of that in a day can be exhausting. But it also means your day is full of distractions.

When you settle in for the night, your mind finally has time to catch up with you. It may be the first time in the day when you’re fully alone with your thoughts. Unfortunately, that often means those thoughts come crashing in like a ton of bricks, making you feel extremely anxious and stressed.

It’s more common than you might think but can make something as simple as going to bed feel like an overwhelming nightmare.

Nighttime Panic Attacks

Some people experience such severe anxiety at night that it causes panic attacks. The symptoms of a nighttime panic attack are the same as having one when you’re awake, including:

·         Rapid heart rate

·         A feeling of doom/despair

·         Chills

·         Hot flashes

·         Dizziness

·         Shortness of breath

Obviously, experiencing these symptoms when you’re trying to sleep makes it nearly impossible to get any rest. What’s even worse is that sleep deprivation is another common cause of anxiety. So, it’s a vicious cycle that can make your anxiety feel totally uncontrollable.

How to Manage Anxiety at Night

The best way to keep your anxiety from flaring up at night is to not ignore it during the day. That isn’t to say it’s better or “easier” to have anxiety issues during the day. If you deal with it in increments, though, it won’t feel so overwhelming by the time you’re ready for bed.

When you start to feel anxious during the day, don’t ignore it. Accept it and think of ways to get through it. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or even light physical exercises can help you to deal with the feeling of anxiety at any given time. Practice these things throughout the day, and especially before bed to get yourself into a more relaxed state.

No matter when your anxiety surfaces, it’s not easy to deal with. If you continue to let it flare up without trying to manage it, anxiety can start to completely take over your life.

While there are management techniques you can do on your own (like the ones listed above), anxiety won’t get better on its own, especially if you try to ignore it.

If you’re struggling with anxiety and it seems to be getting worse at night—keeping you from getting the sleep you need—please feel free to contact me.

We will face some of the potential underlying causes of these flare-ups, and what you can do to manage them.

When you start to fully acknowledge your anxiety, it can become easier to manage it on a long-term basis.


For more information about Anxiety treatment, please take a look at my Anxiety Counseling page.

I am here to partner with you to transform your life. If you are ready to partner with me to transform your life, please contact me to set up an appointment or for a free 30 – minute phone consultation.

 About the Therapist

Gay A. Hunter, M.Div., LPC-S, is a licensed professional counselor who graduated from Brite Divinity School at TCU. She is committed to partner with you to transform your life. She owns a private practice in Fort Worth, TX. She specializes in online therapy. She is trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. To find out more about Gay click here