Anxiety is a health concern that often worsens at night 1. With that in mind, many health states trigger nighttime anxiety2. Although many people experience anxiety in the daytime, nighttime anxiety could affect your physical and mental health.
When people are anxious, they are experiencing a human emotion that surfaces due to stress or worry3. It's not uncommon to become anxious during important meetings, presentations, or an interview. However, anxiety could significantly impede the quality of your sleep if it persists till nighttime4.
Studies have associated anxiety as a consequence of sleep deprivation5. Today, millions of Americans experience sleep disorders6. That said, people struggle to get the recommended hours of sleep, causing health challenges and anxiety.
Sleep disorders are conditions that prevent you from getting quality sleep, thereby interfering with your well-being7. Although it's common to experience sleeplessness from time to time, if it's a persistent problem, then you might have a sleep disorder. Here are some common symptoms of chronic sleeping disorder8:
- Struggling to sleep in the afternoon or at night.
- Experiencing fatigue despite being well-rested.
- Sleeping when performing daily duties or tasks.
A medical term for people who struggle to sleep is insomnia9. When people have insomnia, they find it difficult to sleep well and experience continuous sleep-wake disturbances. Similarly, there are other known disorders, such as sleep apnea and sleep walking10.
While anxiety can cause sleep deprivation, sleep deprivation may also result to anxiety. They are closely knitted, making it possible for one to trigger the other11.
Besides sleep deprivation, sleep anxiety could also be another reason for being anxious at night. Sleep anxiety occurs when a person worries about going to sleep. Naturally, anxiety is a mechanism keeping the body alert of impending dangers, but it could affect your sleeping patterns12.
Sometimes people are afraid of sleeping because they believe something terrible may happen when they go to bed. This results in anxiety as they try to keep sleep at bay13.
Why Does It Happen At Night?
In some situations, anxiety occurs at night, leading to loss of sleep and restlessness. While most people experience anxiety during the daytime, some researches have shown that it may also occur at night14. Here are some reasons why anxiety happens at night.
For one, sleep anxiety is a type of anxiety centered on sleep. When people are afraid of sleeping, they become anxious while using every means necessary to prevent sleeping.
Similarly, people diagnosed with sleep disorders hardly get sufficient sleep. Insomnia is a known sleep disorder. It has some common symptoms, such as15:
- Waking up earlier than you want
- Experiencing difficulty sleeping
- Continuously waking up in the night
Over 30% of adults in America experience insomnia, showing how prevalent the disorder is in society16. Patients who have insomnia experience sleep anxiety due to the challenges they face when trying to sleep.
Furthermore, some mental health patients may also experience sleep deprivation at night. Experts have linked the bipolar disorder to sleep disturbances 17. This is because patients diagnosed with this mental disorder experience manic episodes, impairing their ability to sleep.
Stress is another reason you may experience anxiety. Stress occurs when you feel overwhelmed due to demands placed on the body or brain. When you are stressed, you can also trigger anxiety18.
For example, when you need to complete an assessment that requires a lot of mental or physical strength, you may feel overwhelmed by the course of the event, resulting in loss of sleep or a change in eating habits.
It's natural to be anxious about your daily events and experiences. Anxiety can also motivate you to work harder to meet expectations. However, if you are frequently stressed, your anxiety level may significantly interfere with your daily life.
What Are Symptoms Of Anxiety?
Experts associate anxiety with a series of symptoms19. While these symptoms may guide you, you need to seek professional assistance in diagnosing your health conditions.
- Nervousness and restlessness: When dealing with anxiety, you may suffer from nervousness or restlessness. This becomes evident when trying to sleep. Restlessness makes a person uneasy and unwilling to stay still20.
- Increased heart rate: Anxiety increases the heart rate. Increased heart rate is also linked to nervousness, a symptom of anxiety. Similarly, nervousness is a state of worry or fear. When you are anxious, you may feel your heart rate increasing.
- Fatigue or body weakness: In some situations, anxiety causes fatigue and body weakness. When you are anxious, you may find it harder to sleep, resulting in fatigue in the morning. To stay healthy, you need quality sleep. If you are sleep-deprived, you may experience discomfort and tiredness.
- Agitation: People diagnosed with anxiety also experience agitation. As a result, they have sweaty and shaky hands. Because the body has some mechanisms for fight or flight, you may experience racing pulses as your body prepares to protect you from danger. When the body triggers this defense mechanism, you become agitated and restless21.
- Losing concentration: Studies have linked anxiety to loss of concentration22. Also, when people are anxious, they struggle to retain their short-term memories. Still, loss of concentration could also be a symptom of other medical concerns.
Why Anxiety Can Feel Worse At Night
Anxiety may feel worse at night due to a couple of reasons. When it's nighttime, everywhere is quiet with little distractions, making it easier for people to remember their troubles.
Also, some people record panic attacks when they are alone. For many, nighttime is a trigger for anxiety, leading to increased stressors.
Here are some reasons why anxiety feels worse during your nighttime.
- Work stress: Many people who undergo constant pressure at their workplace tend to be anxious after their day at work. Some work-related problems could also cause insomnia in some people. At night, some people think about their challenges, triggering sleeplessness. It's also noteworthy that sleep deprivation could lead to late-night anxiety23.
- No distractions: Getting involved in numerous activities would likely keep your mind busy during the daytime. However, when night comes, you may become anxious. Daytime distractions, such as chores, errands, or even work, help you forget your challenges. So, when you no longer have distractions, you are forced to worry about your personal or work life.
- Physical responses: Body pains, injuries, and other related problems tend to increase your anxiety during your nighttime. However, this is not the same for everyone. Some people have heightened awareness of concerns during the day while others face such problems at night24.
What To Do If You Can't Sleep?
Sleeping is a great way to relax after a busy day. When you sleep, your body relaxes, and you feel energized in the morning.
Still, more than 40 million Americans suffer from insomnia25. Insomnia has numerous triggers, making it crucial to note eating and sleeping habits.
To maintain proper bodily functions, you need adequate sleep. Luckily, there are some habits you can incorporate into your nightlife to enjoy longer and better quality sleep.
- Work on your stress level: Stress is a known cause of anxiety and sleeplessness. If you are stressed, you may find it challenging to get your recommended hours of sleep26. To avoid sleep disturbances and deprivation, you should work on reducing your stress levels before bed. For many, bedtime is a period to think and reminisce over the events of the day. Still, you may lose hours of sleep when you focus on those thoughts.
- Meditation: Mediation forces your body to relax and shut down for the day. You can take deep breathes while concentrating on your meditation. Take advantage of the quietness and focus on this exercise to improve the quality of your sleep27
- Exercise regularly: Exercising could offer essential benefits to your bedtime. You will enjoy more extended and more restful sleep when you exercise regularly. However, you should avoid overly exerting yourself during the activity. When you partake in strenuous exercises, you may end up injuring or hurting yourself.
- Minimize noise level: If you find it hard to sleep, it may be due to the noise level. Noise distracts you from sleeping, thereby worsening anxiety. You can control your noise level by switching off the television or finding a more quiet place to sleep.
- Minimize light: Many people have insomnia due to bright and artificial light. Switch off your light when you have problems sleeping. This helps your senses relax and get set for bed 28.
Anxiety is a prevalent health challenge many people suffer from. A lot of times, specific triggers lead to anxiety and nervousness. Sleep deprivation could be the reason behind your anxiety at night. Similarly, your stress level may make it hard to sleep, leading to intensified conditions. For many suffering from anxiety, they show symptoms, such as nervousness, restlessness, and agitation.
Luckily, you can get a better sleep when you incorporate some techniques. Regular exercises, minimizing noise level, and meditation could do a lot for your nighttime. That said, ensure you get professional advice if you are unsure of your medical concern.