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Why is My Anxiety Worse at Night?



You might not know this yet... but nighttime anxiety is actually very common! And if you find yourself asking “Why is my anxiety worse at night?” this post is for you! For so many people, anxiety can feel much more distressing at night. It might cause you to get poor sleep, experience a panic attack, or even form strict routines around bedtime. There are so many reasons why this might be happening, so let’s talk about why your anxiety might be worse at night! You’ll want to make sure you stay tuned to the end of this post, where I’ll share lots of helpful tips to help you overcome nighttime anxiety.


So...Why is My Anxiety Worse at Night?

I want to start by saying there are so many reasons why your anxiety might be worse at night! For starters, there’s generally a whole lot less going on in the evening. And as you start to slow down for the night, your mind has more mental space to focus on the anxious thoughts and symptoms. Often, there are fewer distractions from the anxiety, which might make it feel stronger. And if you’re anything like how I was, your mind starts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow! The good news is that you can completely change your relationship with nighttime anxiety (more on that later)!


Your anxiety might be worse at night because you’re convincing yourself that it’s not safe to panic, or that experiencing anxiety is more “risky” at night. But before we continue, I want to remind you that you are safe to experience panic from anywhere, so don’t forget that! Maybe for you, the anxiety is centered on not getting enough sleep, and fearing that it will cause you to be more anxious the next day. Or maybe you’re just really stressed and overwhelmed! No matter the reason for your nighttime anxiety, your relationship with sleep and anxiety can definitely improve.


Tips to Reduce Nighttime Anxiety

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering “Shannon, what do I do to get rid of my nighttime anxiety?!”. So let’s talk about it! But before we start, I want to remind you that the goal is never to make the anxiety completely go away, because that’s not realistic. But by making some helpful changes, you can certainly improve your relationship with anxiety! The things I’ll share with you here will help you start to find some relief from many of the anxious thoughts and symptoms.


One of my favorite tips is to practice slowing down throughout the day. Because when you give yourself breaks throughout the day, you're allowing your nervous system to be at peace! For you, this might look like reducing screen time, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or taking some time for your favorite hobby. And as you start practicing slowing down during the day, it’ll be a whole lot easier for you to slow down at night!


If you find yourself constantly checking the time when you can’t fall asleep, moving your clock or phone to a place out of reach might be helpful for you. Checking the time and realizing you still aren’t asleep usually only makes you feel worse! When I started sleeping with my phone in the other room, my nighttime anxiety really improved.


And one of the best things you can do to improve nighttime anxiety is to loosen your grip on control. So often, we want the illusion of control to alleviate our anxiety. But when you give yourself permission to have thoughts and feelings, things get a whole lot easier! Over time, dropping the need for control won’t be so hard. And with some practice, you'll be able to let go of the need to have the "perfect" night's sleep.


So let's recap (with a few bonuses)!

  • Practice slowing down during the day

  • Keep clocks out of the bedroom

  • Loosen your grip on control

  • Drop the unhelpful bedtime routines

  • Avoid coffee/caffeine in the evening

And here's what I want you to remember, friend... you are completely capable of changing your relationship with nighttime anxiety! If you're looking for some free weekly support, my email newsletter is the perfect place to start. Each week, I'll land in your inbox with tips, tools, and affirmations to help you along your anxiety recovery journey! Don't forget to tune in to this week's podcast for all of the details on the tips I shared here today.

 



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