Why Anxiety Wakes You Up at Night, and How to Reclaim Your Rest

Waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety can ruin anyone’s night. You’re panicked, frustrated, worried, and you may not sleep well even if you get back to sleep. You don’t have to sit awake all night, though. Here’s how anxiety messes with our sleep, and how you can fight back.

We’ve discussed what anxiety does to your brain and what to do about it, and how you can get a better night’s sleep in general, but this video from the folks at DNews explains how your brain reacts to moments of anxiety, how those moments are triggered, and what happens specifically when anxiety strikes while you’re sleeping.

Put simply, your body can kick on that stress response that triggers anxiety at any time, without warning. Whether you’re sitting up watching TV or you’re asleep at night, our subconcious mind is really to blame. When you’re dealing with stress during the waking hours, like a deadline for a big project that’s looming or a trip you’re about to take the next morning, your brain can mimic that pattern and send you in to a stressed, panicked state even after you’ve been removed from the immediate stressor. The end result? We wake up in the middle of the night, after we’ve managed to relax, stressed out about work or that flight we need to catch.

When this happens at night though, the problem multiplies and feeds on itself—you wake up worrying about a thing, and then you worry you’re not getting enough sleep, which makes you worry more, and the cycle continues all night, leaving you without rest. So what do you do about it? Here are some tips, including some we’ve highlighted before.

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