Panicky feelings when you are half asleep are particularly unpleasant – everything seems magnified in the night. However like all anxiety symptoms they run their course and move on. Just make bedtime as relaxed as you can.
We have a very limited understanding as to what causes a panic attack at night. It could well be that elevated CO2 levels in the body caused shallow breathing or an environmental cause may be the culprit. But essentially it’s rooted in the same anxiety that causes daytime attacks.
Sleep Panic Attacks
More than 50% of people diagnosed with panic disorder suffer from nocturnal or sleep panic attacks. Although only 10% of all panic attacks happen at night they are still an issue of concern. Sleep panic attacks are bad because the person begins to fear the night – and especially going off to sleep.
Any anxiety attacks are scary because you feel so very vulnerable when they occur. But all you have to do is to find a way to relax your mind (and body) and integrate this method into your day-to-day functioning. They will disappear as you adjust and learn to cope.
Sometimes, a night attack might take a different form, with symptoms such as grinding the teeth, head pain and a feeling of pressure in the ears, which are not typically experienced during a waking panic attack. However, the person experiencing panic attacks while sleeping may be aware of being asleep, and may feel that he or she is struggling to wake up.
The precise reason for sleep panic attacks is not yet known. Possible causes might include a build up of carbon dioxide in the body, a condition that causes the body to respond by strenuous breathing and rapid heart rate.
If it happens to you – lie still for a few minutes after waking up, this can help reduce the amount of adrenalin circulating in your system. Don’t fight it. Gradually move your hands and feet a little bit at a time sit up, and eventually slowly stand up. Remember, your body is trying to help.