Panic Attacks Can Also Happen at Night

Panic Attacks Can Also Happen at Night

Last update: 21 May, 2018

Panic attacks create intense discomfort and overwhelming fear.They can appear at any time, which is why they are often unexpected. It is common that there is no direct and obvious cause.

In some way, it is as if our body feels threatened, without any real danger. Our body reacts as if our greatest fears are coming true.

Logically, our mind cannot understand what is happening. “Why? What has triggered all this? I was calm, and suddenly I feel this way. I don’t understand”. We can’t wrap our heads around t his unexpected and unpredictable reaction in our body. And that is more terrifying than anything else.

Panic attacks sneak in with no warning

One of the feelings we tolerate least, although each person is different, is uncertainty. Unpredictability. In panic attacks, being unable predict them or find their cause often ends up generating more anxiety than the attacks themselves.


woman thinking

When we are having a full panic attack, physical sensations, such as palpitations, sweaty hands or feeling sick happen to us at the same time. In addition, emotionally, it is common to have a fear of dying, to faint, to lose control or to go crazy. Fears take hold of us that can paralyze us completely.

We may also experience chest pain. We can feel dizzy, short of breath and nauseous… Sometimes we feel taken over by the sensation of surrealness – this is one of the most disturbing parts of a panic attack.

Surreal sensations appear frequently in nighttime panic attacks

It’s as if we stepped out of our body and are looking down on ourselves from the outside. We watch our body expectantly from a surveillance post. This is a feeling that is often accompanied with terror.

woman lying on floor

But what happens when we go to bed? This should be a calm time of our day. When we can set our worries aside and finally sleep. Where we can sleep away our worries. We wrap them and set them aside. At least until we have to wake up again.

The truth is that panic attacks can haunt us at night. Without prior notice. At least daytime panic attacks can be predicted sometimes. There are signs that we can begin to observe and be aware of them. We can go to a safe place or leave where we are, for example, in a crowd.


Waking up to a nighttime panic attack is surprising and abrupt

In contrast, nighttime panic attacks are completely unpredictable. They usually occur before the REM phase. That is why we are not aware of them until we wake up. This awakening is always very sudden.

Our body can accumulate so much anxiety that it can feel like it often explodes through panic attacks. There are people who experience very high levels of stress and express that stress through nighttime panic attacks. Just when they lower their guard. Which is why they feel so much surprise and terror when they experience a nighttime panic attack.

We wake up terrified, we do not understand what is happening to us. The seconds that pass become eternal. Our anguish is mixed with a feeling of strangeness and surrealness since it happened in the middle of the night.

We can prevent nighttime panic attacks with good sleep habits

We must start by treating unresolved daytime anxiety in order to treat nighttime panic attacks. At the same time it is important to work with any “phobia” that can appear every time the day ends and we have to enter our bedroom. Nighttime panic attacks can create a fear of sleeping that we will have to fight.


sitting on bench

With habits, we will create and strengthen better sleep habits. We will eliminate everything that disturbs us from our sleep time. Having dinner right before bed, or watching movies or TV just before bedtime can sometimes cause unpleasant feelings that becomes stored in our bodies.

You can always take these preventive measures to say goodbye to nighttime panic attacks. However it is important not to forget that a large part of its existence has to do with the levels of stress, anguish or anxiety that we are enduring in our day to day life. If you observe what is happening during the day, maybe you can get a very valuable clue about how to start fighting these sudden attacks that haunt us like monsters at night.


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