How to stop panic attacks at night is something that I’m asked about A LOT. They are absolutely terrifying. In today’s blog I talk about my own experience in learning what nocturnal panic attacks are, what causes panic attacks at night, and how to stop the sleep anxiety that comes with them.
Watch the video to learn the 4 steps to stop a panic attack while sleeping, or read the blog below:
Whatever you want to call them, they’re absolutely terrifying. And learning how to stop panic attacks at night is going to be one of the most useful skills you will ever learn.
And let me tell you, when my anxiety was at its worst, the nocturnal panic attacks were definitely the most common type of panic attack that I had.
I started experiencing nighttime panic attacks when I was about 16, 17 years old and the first nighttime panic attack that I ever had that woke me up out of my sleep was actually when I was on a family holiday overseas.
My parents took my brother and I on the trip of a lifetime to Italy and Greece and I believe we were in Italy when I was staying in a hotel room with my younger brother who was about 13 or 14 years old at the time and we’d gone out for dinner as you do when you’re part of a tour group and everyone had gone to bed for the night and my brother and I, we went to bed and I woke up about an hour after I had gone to sleep in an absolute freak out.
I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know what time it was, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, shrieking.
It was so loud that my parents actually came running into the room from next door because I was banging on the walls.
I remember feeling that I was entombed, that I was stuck in a room and I couldn’t get out so my claustrophobia was triggered and I just remember just being trapped in this darkness and the feeling of my heart racing out of my chest, the inability to breathe, I felt hot, I felt sweaty, I felt clammy and absolutely bewildered.
I had no idea where I was, what time it was, who was with me, it was just the most terrifying experience of my life.
I didn’t know what it was, my brother didn’t know what it was.
My parents came in and they calmed me down and they said it was a nightmare and I went back to sleep and slept for the rest of that night, thankfully, pretty well.
But then, I had another one and I can’t remember if I had many more while I was overseas but when I came home from being overseas, definitely…definitely started having these nocturnal nighttime panic attacks while I was sleeping and they became a regular pattern.
Nighttime anxiety attacks became a regular part of my life.
Now, as well, this was also the year that I was doing my final exams for high school.
I was 17 at the time and I was doing my final year of schooling so we called it the HSC back then.
And these are final exams that tell you whether you are going to university or not at the end of that year.
It’s a time of a lot of stress for students.
So, I was getting these nocturnal panic attacks.
And again, I wasn’t really sure what they were, not really sure why they were happening.
They were absolutely terrifying to go through but I don’t think it was seen as a priority to acknowledge them in my family because they weren’t affecting me during the day.
I wasn’t getting panic attacks during the day…yet.
I was still only in my teens. So, these panic attacks are manifesting much the same way.
Sometimes, they were slightly different.
It was usually an hour or two after I’d gone to sleep and most of the time, I’d wake up and I realized, I understood that I was in my bed but there were times that I thought the ceiling was coming down.
There was a night that I thought that the light had come crashing down from the ceiling and had landed on my bed and I felt that the bed was alive with electricity.
There was one night when I dreamt that spiders were falling down, were raining down from the ceiling on me and I do live in Australia but it’s not normal to get spiders raining down on you through the night.
So that was quite scary at the time, especially for not knowing what it was and not understanding what it was, not realizing what it was.
I had thoughts going through my head of, “Am I crazy? Why is this happening to me? What can I do to stop this?” And I think the biggest one was, “What’s causing this to happen?”
So, fast forward, it’s now 20 years since that time and I am now 36 years old, I’m an energy healer, I help women with anxiety attacks and panic attacks and all sorts of anxiety.
So I have some understanding as to how to stop panic attacks at night.
Scientifically, what causes a panic attack is when you go to sleep and normally, the brain goes through three phases of winding down and going to sleep.
So, a panic attack happens when you jump from your brainwaves operating at one level and you go into too deep a sleep too quickly.
That causes your body’s wakeup system to activate and because your brain waves are still operating at that deeper sleep level, that’s where the confusion comes in.
So you’re getting this wakeup signal to try and pull you out of that deeper sleep but then, you are in that deeper sleep, so, you’ve got these clashing brain waves happening and that’s where the confusion and that’s where the panic happens.
Energetically, nocturnal panic attacks happen at the subconscious level and it happens when you’ve got stress going on in your life, perhaps not super, super stress.
So it’s not like a stressful event that you’ve got going on but it definitely happens when your life is kind of running with an undertone of stress happening.
So what I’m trying to say is it’s stress and it’s anxiety that perhaps, on a conscious level, you might not be acknowledging or dealing with and the simple reason for that is you probably don’t feel that it’s there.
That’s why a lot of people that get these nighttime panic attacks, these nocturnal panic attacks that wake you up from your sleep get so confused about it and wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Am I going crazy? Is this something that I should be getting some real medical intervention for?”
Those people don’t consciously understand that it’s anxiety that’s causing it and that’s why their anxious energy that comes in, it can only manifest at night because that is when your body is in its subconscious state and that’s when that anxious energy kind of comes up to the surface and can be expressed.
This is crucial info for learning how to stop panic attacks at night.
So, energetically, that’s what a nocturnal panic attack is and that is why it happens.
So there’s four steps that you need to take for how to stop panic attacks at night and these steps are the same for when you have a panic attack during the day as well.
It’s the same thing but it can be a little bit harder to put them into play at nighttime because these sleeping panic attacks come on so suddenly and so quickly and literally out of nowhere.
You can be enjoying a lovely, relaxing sleep and then BAM!
You’re thrown into this absolute terror.
So, it can be harder to come to your senses and to logically put these steps into play.
But nevertheless, it doesn’t matter how far into the panic attack you are when you realize that you should be taking these four steps.
As long as you take them, they begin to work and you will learn how to stop panic attacks at night quite quickly.
So the first step is: Name it.
So you just need to name it as a panic attack.
The minute that you realize what’s going on and the minute that you come to an understanding that, “Oh, hang on a minute. Yes, actually, this is terrifying but I think this might be a panic attack that I am having.
I think that this could possibly be anxiety that’s causing this to happen to me.”
The minute you have the slight little inkling that that’s what’s going on through the terror, that’s when you have to say, “Yes, yes. This is a panic attack that’s absolutely what’s going on with me right now.
This is definitely, definitely, definitely a panic attack.”
And you can be safe in the knowledge that it is a panic attack because things like heart attacks don’t come on in the night time with such ferocity – if it’s a heart attack, you will wake up and you’ll be feeling a little bit sick, nauseous with that heavy dull pain.
It’s not usually a terror that wakes you up out of your sleep when you’re experiencing a heart attack.
So, you can be safe in the knowledge that if you think that it might be an anxiety attack, that in all likelihood that’s exactly what it is and so, these steps are definitely what you need to be taking.
Knowing the difference between panic and a heart attack is so important – it really helps empower you in learning how to stop panic attacks at night.
So, by naming it, you’re taking that energy and you’re bringing it into the light and all healing happens in the light.
So, all healing happens when you shine light on it, and learning how to stop panic attacks at night is no different.
So by naming it as, “Oh, this is a panic attack that I’m having. This is an anxiety attack, this is one of those nocturnal panic attack that Eva was talking about.”
The minute that you say that and you acknowledge that to yourself, that is the minute that you start gaining your power back because you’ve named what it is.
Don’t underestimate the power of that as you learn how to stop panic attacks at night.
Just knowing what it is incredibly empowering for you because once you know what it is, you can then take the next steps to getting this panic attack under control.
The second step in learning how to stop panic attacks at night is… Accept it.
You need to accept it as a panic attack.
So, coming into acceptance that yes, this is what you’re experiencing, you are experiencing a panic attack but also accept that it’s happening.
And by that, I mean, stop fighting it.
You can’t beat anxiety by fighting it.
You don’t learn how to stop panic attacks at night by fighting them.
I could say this until I’m blue in the face.
And this simple fact is what cured me from my anxiety, with the fact that I stopped that relentless trying to fight it every single time that it came up.
And it feels like one of the hardest things in the world that you can do but it’s the absolute key to gaining your control back because anxiety is fed by fighting it.
Anxiety relies on that tension, it relies on that push back.
So, by accepting it as, “this is a nocturnal panic attack and because that’s what it is, I just need to sit back and let this happen.”
So you feel the panic, you feel the anxiety, you feel that terror and you don’t try to fight it as that wave washes over, as that wave approaches.
You need to know that the wave will come and you will feel the feelings and it will feel terrifying, it will feel scary but soon, that wave will wash over and you can’t make a wave wash over by trying to get it there.
You just have to accept and allow and stop resisting and sit back and allow the panic attack to take place, you give it space, you sort of you give it the floor.
You say, “Okay, nocturnal panic attack, this is your moment, express yourself.” You give it that space.
Which brings me to the third step: You just need to go with it.
You need to allow that panic attack to take itself and to take you wherever it wants to take you and by doing that, it sounds like the most counter-intuitive thing under the sun by doing that, you’re actually making an energetic space for it to be in.
It’s like an energetic bubble that it’s in where, for that moment, the panic is in charge.
For that moment, it’s allowed to do whatever it wants.
You’re letting it feel like it’s in charge.
You’re kind of doing reverse psychology on the panic, so to speak.
By going with it, you’re allowing the panic to do its worst within a certain amount of time, within a certain amount of space.
So you’re setting the stage, you’re creating the environment where the panic can do its thing.
And you’re letting it do its thing, you’re allowing that energy to express itself.
And by being expressed, that’s how the energy dissipates. This part is absolutely key to how to stop panic attacks at night.
Which brings me to the final step… Just keep going with it.
To truly learn how to stop panic attacks at night, you just need to keep going with the panic attack for as long as it takes.
Again, I know this is hard, being through this myself.
Nocturnal panic attacks ruled my sleep and my life for so many years until I actually took this process seriously.
You just have to keep letting it go, keep letting that panic happen, keep letting it wash over, know that it won’t get any worse than what it is in the beginning and by identifying what it is and by accepting it and by just going with it, you give it that space that it needs to be expressed and to be out there.
You need to allow that space because by giving it the space and by giving it the room, the energy can be expressed, it can be dissipated and it returns to the Universe.
And by doing this every single time, you train yourself and you train your energy field that the anxiety is not something to be feared, it’s not something that needs to be fought and it’s actually not a threat.
The energy just needs to be expressed.
And with that acceptance, you take the power away from the anxiety.
You empower yourself and the anxiety doesn’t have the energy to hold onto anymore.
And so, your nocturnal panic attacks and your panic attacks at night become less and less.
They become less in duration, they become less in frequency and over time, you become like me and you won’t get any nighttime panic attacks at all anymore.
I have a free Nocturnal panic attacks – guided meditation for you to download and listen to. It will help you to stop panic attacks at night and feel more safe and in-control of your sleeping space.
And in that space, you’re actually energetically taking your power back.
Love + light