Causes and Treatment of Anxiety at Night

Have you ever experienced anxiety? Do your symptoms worsen at night? Continue reading to find out its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Causes and Treatment of Anxiety at Night

Last update: 05 October, 2020

Anxiety is a disorder that affects many people. In fact, its causes and manifestations are quite diverse. Also, some people feel more anxious in the morning or throughout the day. However, it’s common for those who experience anxiety at night to also experience it during the day. This is because it becomes more acute around midnight.

The mind tends to ruminate on thoughts, building up tension. Thus, it’s common for anxiety to hinder rest. This, in turn, increases a person’s anxiety during the day, creating a vicious cycle.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”

-Jodi Picoult-

An anxious man.


The term “anxiety” is used to refer to a symptom, a personality trait, or a disorder. Be that as it may, it’s a natural mechanism that helps humans stay alert in the face of a possible threat. Thus, it allows you to concentrate and face any obstacles that may come your way.

You experience non-adaptive anxiety disproportionately to the real threat a given stimulus poses. In other words, it isn’t the same to experience it before a lion in the middle of the jungle, adaptive anxiety, than in your daily life when you’re overwhelmed, non-adaptive anxiety. In fact, it causes psychological and physiological alterations when it happens often and it can have serious health consequences.

The main symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, muscle tension, fear, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, tremors, dizziness, and fatigue. There’s also difficulty concentrating, controlling worries, difficulty falling asleep, and the need to avoid stressful situations at a cognitive and behavioral level.

Anxiety at night

Anxiety at night can be due to various causes. Every person experiences it differently and under one or another condition. In fact, experts aren’t sure of the reasons for nighttime anxiety.

However, several factors increase anxiety levels at the end of the day:

  • Stress. Many people experience anxiety due to the stress they feel in one or more areas of their life (personal or work). Thus, when the stressors they encounter during the day are intense or frequent, they continue to think about them at the end of the day and their anxiety levels increase.
  • Distractions. Most people aren’t busy when they hit the hay. Thus, the mind has time to think more about everything. Instead, people are busy during the day, which sort of shelters them from negative thoughts.
  • Associating some events with bedtime. Anxiety works by association. Thus, it appears when you associate thoughts or symptoms to a specific moment. Having anxiety for one or two nights will increase your anxiety about it happening again. Unfortunately, it’ll only make it more likely to happen. Thus, you’ll automatically begin to feel anxious.
  • Physical responses. Some people have physical pain or other types of discomforts at night. This, coupled with the lack of distractors, makes them interpret them as more negative, leading to more anxiety and problems to disconnect and sleep.
A woman who can't sleep.

How to deter anxiety at night

As in any other type of anxiety, the main thing is to recognize you have a problem and maintain a change-oriented attitude. It’s easy to overcome anxiety with some effort and the right tools. However, seek professional help to overcome it if you’re not sure about the guidelines to follow.

You can definitely try it on your own. Just follow these simple guidelines. All you need is motivation and perseverance.

Some of them are:

  • Physical exercise brings many psychological and mental benefits. Among them, it improves your mood by helping you release neurotransmitters such as serotonin, a substance that makes you feel good. In addition, it reduces the presence of cortisol, the stress hormone. Thus, do some physical activity in the morning or in the early afternoon in order to reduce anxiety.
  • Any healthy habit will help you feel better, and eating is one of them. In this regard, the first and last meals of the day seem to be particularly important.
  • The consumption of caffeine and nicotine alters the physiological system, increasing heart rate, sleep cycles, and, therefore, health. For this reason, consumption is discouraged in people who experience anxiety at night, especially during and after the evening.
  • Anxiety at night is a vicious cycle compounded by the inability to sleep. Therefore, it’s important to maintain proper sleep hygiene.
  • Sleep hygiene consists of keeping the room clean and cozy, using it only for sleeping and resting, and doing a ritual before bed. Your sleep is sacred, so don’t use mobile phones, tablets, or computers when you should be sleeping. This is because the screens of these devices alter cortisol levels and this leads to stress and insomnia.

Final notes about anxiety at night

Ultimately, anxiety at night can be very distressing and troublesome. However, following a series of simple tasks, or seeking professional help, can solve it sooner than you think. The main thing you must do is be aware and take good care of yourself.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.