Night Anxiety: Why It Happens and How to Stop It

Why does night anxiety happen? why only at night? how to stop it once and for all?

It may take hours to fall asleep while intrusive, disturbing, and frightening thoughts take control of your mind. Or it can suddenly wake you up in the middle of the night and cause a full-blown panic attack.

Night anxiety, for those who have it, is worse than daytime anxiety.

You wake up worrying about something, everybody else is sleeping, or worse – you’re alone.

Gradually you start suffering from major sleep deprivation.

how to stop night time anxiety

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What Triggers Night Anxiety?

It’s dark and everything seems tragic when it’s dark.

Then you worry about not getting enough sleep again and the cycle continues until it’s 5 AM and you’ve slept only 2 hours the entire night.

You may also experience hideous dreams that make no sense at all. You wake up feeling awful. You just know that you’re going to be a wreck again tomorrow.

A surefire way to ruin your entire day too, right?

Why? What keeps triggering these night anxiety attacks especially when you’re in bed at night?

The relative isolation, quietness, and absence of distractions are probably the most important factors in feeling anxious at night.

During the day, we can use various strategies to modulate these concerns, including taking direct action to address them.

Lying in bed in a dark room, worries become overwhelming and inescapable.

The Insomnia-Anxiety Vicious Cycle

You may not be aware of it, but night anxiety in adults could be caused by a sleep disorder.

Insomnia fuels a cycle of anxiety.

Insomnia makes falling asleep much harder. You toss and turn and the anxious thoughts emerge, and now you can forget about healthy sleep.

Am I going to lose my job? What’s going to happen at that doctor’s appointment? Did I forget my pants at the dry cleaners?

Insomniacs expect problems with sleep.

Even before they lie down at night, the anxious thoughts are already there, fueling the vicious night anxiety cycle.

Experts call this “catastrophizing“.

7 Ways to Prevent Night Anxiety

tips to prevent anxiety at night

To prevent anxiety at night, the most important thing to avoid is lying in bed and trying to fall asleep.

Get up and do something else, in another room, until you are truly sleepy. This way you can reduce negative thinking and night anxiety symptoms.

A few more effective ways to prevent night-time anxiety are:

1CBD (Cannabidiol) Hemp Oil

CBD oil is made from the Cannabis plant and has no euphoric properties.

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates functions like inflammation, pain, and metabolism, which helps relieve anxiety and promote sleep.

cbd oil for anxiety at night

If you’ve ever tried it, you know that two of the well-known benefits of Cannabis are better sleep, restorative sleep, and anxiety relief.

Plus, it’s well-researched and proven to relieve anxiety and stress effectively, and it’s one of the 23 best foods and herbs for reducing stress hormones.

The one I use – CBDfx Tincture –  is a custom-made optimized CBD + CBN Hemp tincture that offers all the health benefits of CBD without getting you high.

CBD tincture for night anxiety

I highly recommend you try it. It has reduced the number of times I wake up anxious at night from four to one (feeling perfectly calm and going back to sleep immediately) and improved my sleep quality greatly.

2. CBD Infused Pillow

The best way to get the benefits of CBD – without ingesting it.

CBD Pillow for night anxiety
CBD Pillow

The pillow has CBD microencapsulation technology designed to release CBD gradually through friction (in other words, from tossing and turning…)

using a CBD infused pillow cover for night anxiety
My CBD pillow

3. No Caffeine, Nicotine, or Wine in the Evening

While alcohol might initially make you feel relaxed, it disrupts sleep patterns later in the night. This can lead to fragmented sleep, waking up frequently, and feeling more anxious the next day.

Nicotine is a stimulant that can interfere with falling asleep and staying asleep. It can also worsen anxiety symptoms.

Coffee is another stimulant that can disrupt sleep and make anxiety worse, especially if you drink it close to bedtime.

I actually tried living with or without them and saw the difference.

These can make your attacks worse and caffeine can cause insomnia, so you can’t sleep at all.

4. Drink Valerian Root tea or St. John’s Wort Tea

Valerian root has been traditionally used to promote relaxation and improve sleep.

Some studies suggest Valerian Root may modestly reduce anxiety, possibly by increasing levels of calming neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

St. John’s Wort is more commonly known for treating mild to moderate depression, but some research suggests it might also help with anxiety symptoms. It’s thought to work by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin, that regulate mood.

These did help me (sometimes) prevent my anxiety at night. Both plants are proven to be mild anxiety relievers.

As with any herbal remedy, check with your doctor first if you take any kind of medication!

5. Avoid Bad Night Habits

First of all, don’t look at the clock! Ever!

  • Turn the clock around to face the wall, or hide it in a drawer or under the bed. I constantly checked the time, reinforcing my thought that I’ll never get back to sleep.
  • Don’t stay in bed for more than 15 minutes. I used to remind my brain that the bed is the place to sleep – not the place for stressing, worrying, and obsessing.
  • Don’t go back to sleep before bedtime. I only went back to bed when I felt I could fall asleep right away. I watched, on purpose, a boring TV show or read a boring book.
  • Before going to sleep, try to watch something funny on TV. Never an action film or heart-breaking drama. Something light, funny, and even stupid. Give your brain a break and a chance to escape from everyday worries.

6. Magnesium Oil

Most of us are Magnesium deficient and Magnesium is essential for good sleep and stress reduction.

Magnesium deficiency is one of the leading causes of anxiety disorders, yet most people don’t know about this or ignore it.

( I highly recommend that you read Dr. Mark Sircus’s book – Transdermal Magnesium Therapy)

magnesium oil for night anxiety

Rub pure magnesium oil on your feet before you go to sleep. Put your socks on, and leave until morning, and learn the many benefits of Magnesium oil (always have it around)

7. Improve your sleep environment

essential oil diffuser humidifier for bedroom
Aromatherapy diffuser & humidifier with auto shut off – view on Amazon

Turn your bedroom into a perfect place for sleep.

  • Clean out all the clutter
  • Get rid of all electronics (well maybe except for the alarm clock )
  • Keep it dark, cool, and quiet
  • Consider using aromatherapy. I have this essential oil diffuser and use a few drops of the calming Lavender oil – every night.

8. Muse Headbandsleep device and app for night time anxiety

I use the Muse Headband with the sleep program (See my Muse Headband review).

The sleep section inside the app offers different sleep journeys, to help you relax and fall asleep (especially if you suffer from night anxiety).

After that, the app goes quiet and the headband monitors your movement, brain activity, orientation, and heartbeat throughout the night.

More Ways to Stop Anxiety Attacks

If your night anxiety turns into a full-blown panic attack – don’t lose hope just yet. Here’s how to stop a panic attack naturally – In 30 seconds.

And here’s another CBT technique to stop anxious thoughts. Both were very helpful to me.

To your health and happiness,



Casteleijn D, Steel A, Bowman D, Lauche R, Wardle J. A naturalistic study of herbal medicine for self-reported depression and/or anxiety a protocol. Integr Med Res. 2019;8(2):123–128. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.04.007

Musty, Richard. (2006). Cannabinoids and anxiety. 10.1007/3-7643-7358-X_7.

Malcolm BJ, Tallian K. Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time?. Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(4):147–155. Published 2018 Mar 26. doi:10.9740/mhc.2017.07.147

32 thoughts on “Night Anxiety: Why It Happens and How to Stop It”

  1. Just want to comment that there are medications that do not cause addictions. I was prescribed a medication by my doctor that helped me calm down in the evenings. I also went to therapy and was able to discover possible causes for my nighttime anxiety, work through them, and found that learning how to do hypnotherapy at home really helped (when I say hypnotherapy I am not talking about the weird stuff that you see on tv). Using medication at night helped to relieve my anxiety about not being able to fall asleep and therapy helped remove/me cope with my triggers. Now I can go to bed most nights unassisted and do not experience much if any anxiety, and only use melatonin occasionally.
    Anywho, my point it–do not rule out medication as it can be used to help give you confidence that you can sleep and can help you transition to not using it and to falling asleep on your own w/out anxiety. Therapy should also be paired with it.

  2. I also have bad nite time panic attacks. I hate it so bad, at about 8 pm I will start getting anxiety, heartbeats hollow, sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, I feel I’m dying and it scares me so bad. In order to fall asleep, I’ll have to take 5mg of melatonin and once I fall asleep, I wake up 3 hours later, I will feel like I got energy but terribly tired! My Dr. Is not working with me. I do not want a medication that I’d get addicted to either. I don’t know why or how this is happening but I can’t take much more and my body is so tired. I feel I never sleep. Any suggestions for natural relief?

  3. Thanks for the post. It helped many here.
    Please ensure vitamin D3, B12 Magnesium levels are not low. Keep them nicely above the minimum requirements.

    Listen to affirmation positive audios videos few times a day. Before bed listen again with both earphones on.

    Meditate, use breathing techniques.

    Watch funny shows or movies or cartoons.

    Do not do wrong things that may give you worry or fear.

    When anxious tell yourself they are only thoughts and not reality. Reality is you are present in this moment.

  4. I keep thinking I’m having a heart attack because of how I feel I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life but never this I can’t sleep I’m afraid of dying it only happens at night some nights worse than others I thought I was crazy until I read this…and my family thinks I’m crazy I’m making this up..when it starts I think I make it worse my fearing the worst but I try to talk myself out of it and try to watch TV until I can’t hold my eyes open ..I also just had a baby he sleeps all night but I can’t and it’s hard for me to take care of him in the morning…I need help

  5. Hi to all I have being suffering from this too, and eating less on dinner and 45 min on the treadmill one hour before bedtime help me a lot. No coffee after 2pm also. I will try Magnesium and other good suggestions I saw here.

  6. I am currently awake at 2 am, which doesn’t seem too late but it’s just not knowing when it will end. I sometimes get indigestion at night which heightens my anxiety about potentially being ill. So I’m currently sitting in the bathroom trying to relax myself with breathing and things slowly get better.

    Thanks for sharing it’s nice to know other techniques to help

  7. I am so glad I found this.. after months of abuse from a new neighbor I woke up one night with a thumping heart, and breathing fast.. at first it did not scare me but as times went on I’m getting so bad I don’t even want to go out. I am so tired from
    No sleep.. someone help please.

  8. Another idea to combat insomnia is to take a theanine capsule (like the Suntheanine brand) before bed– it ends rumination, stops the circular-thought train, and eases anxiety in about 20 minutes. It works by boosting GABA. Most people find it very relaxing and calming; a bit like a half-glass of wine but without the depressive effects of alcohol.

    Or if the problem is mostly general depression and persistent dark thoughts, take a 5-HTP capsule in the evening. It isn’t as fast-acting as theanine but if taken before bed, you will wake up feeling sunnier. It works by boosting serotonin. Try to limit 5HTP to short-term or occasional use, or cycle it to avoid building up a tolerance.

    For the long term, research and check your D3, folate, B12, and thyroid levels.

  9. Is this legal..excuse me but l am so looking to sleep properly.
    Still awake now nearly 2.30.
    Prescribed additive medication.
    I am fearful, heart palpitations..
    This is a nightmare…
    Is this used in the UK..
    I would truly welcome help please..mega thanks..

  10. I too fear going to bed, while lying in bed it feels as if my skin itches from the inside and I can never get comfortable. If I get out of bed, I usually head down stairs and eat, I know this is wrong, and have gained 25 lbs.

    I need some help and will try some of these remedies.

  11. I fear going to bed and it is often difficult for me to sleep through the night. I take an advair discus before bed and the past couple of days I’ve been trying to sleep without taking it and I have noticed that it is much easier to fall asleep without it. I have switched from taking it before bed to taking it in the morning and I have noticed a huge difference.

  12. I have really severe GERD and it is made worse with my anxiety issues! When it is really bad the GERD gets worse and then the anxiety and it is vicious circle. I have been using cannabis honey and it works great for GERD and anxiety.

  13. Night anxiety is a condition I have battled as a child and still to this day. My first panic attack was at age 10. I thought I was dying. I desperately ran through my mother’s bedroom door and collapsed on a laundry basket. I assume this is why I have convinced myself that sleep is a stressful task rather than an unwinding moment. Now that I think about it, I’ve come a long way since then. Stay positive!!

  14. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been so confused and not wanting to tell my parents because I have a terrible phobia of vomit. I’m afraid they wouldn’t take it seriously. Sometimes I have to stay out of my room and sleep somewhere else, and I don’t really understand why I get fevers at night when I’m feeling really bad.

  15. Neville,

    You can use the link I have in the post for the CBD oil of Honey Colony – They ship to Australia and have a very good customer service. You’re good to go:)

  16. I have suffered from Anxiety for over 30+ years and the Night Anxiety is terrible. I have tried calling places in the area I live but cant find anywhere to get the CBD oil.
    If anyone knows where Please help. I live in Adelaide, Australia.
    Will definitely try the Magnesium Oil.
    Desperate to get some relief at night.
    Thanks for the blog you put up.Very glad to know that I am not alone in this fight.
    I feel your pain.

  17. Ever since I had food poisoning the last time ( it was really bad) I usually have bad anxiety right before I go to bed. And most times it turns into an episode of what my parents like to call true confessions of an American teenager. I sometimes intentionally Make myself cry so that I’m tired or worn out. Lavender oil I have found out works very well for me.

  18. Thanks for the this post. I thought I was alone in this dreaded situation. Mine has become so bad that most nights I avoid my bedroom and just lay on the couch… living alone also does not make it any easier. I will try the Magnesium oil though!

  19. I often get afraid to lie in bed at night because my chest swells and the attacks creep up instantly – reading this made me feel less alone and any distraction is a helping cure – I often drink small sips of cold water breathe slowly in and out and keep a light on even if it’s not too bright just something to make the room feel more whole and me more grounded

  20. Thank you for the assurance . Currently have been up since 2 am and unable to fall asleep again . Looking at the clock or phone is the worst but still thankful to read this .

  21. Watch your monthly cycle as well. I have been able to match my worst attacks to when I am coming off my period or ovulating. Panic attacks at night can often be tied to hormone surges.

  22. I recently started having panic attacks, in the same form as you discribed. I’m even at the point of dreading going to sleep and I’m only working off of two hours of sleep due to last nights attack. I will try your technics. Thanks you. Glad not to be alone in this.

  23. I thought I was crazy…never heard of anxiety at night. I have horrible attacks in my sleep and will go two days straight without sleep. I will try these tips. Thank you for showing I’m not alone.

  24. Thank you for the tips. I have trouble sleeping because of my anxiety. I sometime get panic attacks at night. I will try them!

  25. Thank you. Great suggestions. I drink wine at night and too much because of anxiety and being unable to sleep. I won’t be doing it any longer and will try your suggestions.

  26. Hi. These are good suggestions. I would add magnesium oil to the list of things to try. It works quite well for me. Many people are deficient in magnesium and it is essential to relax the body. I rub some on my neck and shoulders which is where I tend to carry my tension. If any other part of my body is especially painful I rub some there too

  27. You should definitely mention that St. John’s Wort has bad side effects with many psychiatric medications.

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