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How to Reduce Your Panic Attacks at Night
A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety, which causes the physical sensations of fear. The symptoms may include a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, breathing problems, and many others.
Though in many cases the attack has a cause, nighttime panic attacks can occur with no obvious trigger and awaken you from sleep. And getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and overall wellbeing.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to make coping with nighttime panic attacks easier, and the good news is that most of them aren’t that complicated. They include methods as straightforward as taking deep breaths, getting up and doing something, or even investing in a weighted blanket.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so the process of reducing the severity of your panic attacks at night might be a process of trial and error, but to learn what will work for you, you first have to try it. Here are five tips on coping with panic attacks that you might test for yourself.
Invest in a Weighted Blanket
Therapeutic weighted blankets are becoming increasingly popular among those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks at night, among other conditions that they help with. These blankets are made to help people feel more secure and calm by providing deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS). This sensation provides relief from stress, anxiety, and even pain by releasing calming neurotransmitters in our brains.
While there are many types of weighted blankets available on the market with different weight options, the general wisdom is to pick one that’s 10 percent of your body weight. This can help make you feel “grounded” by simulating the feeling of being hugged or held tightly, which helps reduce anxiety.
Start with Deep Breathing
In many cases, people suffering from panic attacks at night find it helpful to do some breathing exercises as they help calm the mind and reduce the anxiety that is causing the attack. The idea is to inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for a count of 6. You can do this a few times in a row for as long as needed.
If you have trouble counting the seconds and regulating your breathing, you could try some of the numerous apps that are supposed to help you. Tools such as Calm or Headspace guide you through various meditation and breathing exercises so you can calm your anxious mind.
Get Up and Move
The next tactic you can try is getting out of bed and doing something else. Feeling unsettled after a panic attack, you might find it hard to fall asleep again. To relax, you could take a walk around your room to distract yourself from your distress. If movement manages to ease your mind, you can even try doing some light exercise such as yoga or some stretching.
If you don’t want to or can’t get out of bed because you’re worried that you’ll wake up other people, you can also try to read a book for a while. It’s better for your brain than watching movies on your phone or going on social media, as blue light might impede your chances of drifting off.
To help you fall asleep, you can read some school books or academic articles that will challenge and quickly exhaust your brain. Also, you should rather avoid reaching for engrossing novels. Being invested in the plot, you could accidentally pull an all-nighter and risk becoming sleep-deprived.
There are many essential oils out there that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, such as lavender oil, rosemary oil, chamomile oil, sandalwood oil, and vetiver oil. Some studies have shown that these oils may also help induce sleepiness and promote better sleep quality because they help relax tense muscles and soothe frayed nerves. Try holding the oil of your choice under the nose and inhaling it gently, or dab it a little onto a handkerchief to smell.
You can also try an essential oil diffuser that you can leave turned on during the night, but keep in mind that some people may react to the fumes and get an asthma attack. Therefore, it might not be the best solution for everyone.
Panic attacks are never a pleasant experience, but they can be incredibly frightening and stressful when they happen at night. The good news is that there are many things you can do to get better sleep and reduce the number of panic attacks you experience, be it simple breathing exercises, purchasing a weighted blanket, or using essential oils.
Some strategies work for particular people and not for others, so if one method doesn’t seem to help, don’t give up! Instead, try another one until you find one that works for you. In case nothing seems to help as much as you need, consider consulting a medical professional about your condition.