Anxiety Depression Treatment

Panic Attack at Night: How to Deal with Nocturnal Panic Attacks


About 50% of all patients with panic disorder have nocturnal panic attacks, but most of the events will be happening during daytime activities. Research shows that only 10.2% of all panic attacks happen at night, but patients might be more severely concerned about these events.

Nocturnal Panic Attacks

Nearly 70% of PD patients report experiencing a panic in their sleep at some point of their lives, and about one third experience recurrent sleep panic. Sleep panic attacks appear to emerge from non-REM sleep, especially during the transition to early delta sleep. Therefore, sleep panic does not appear to be provoked by nightmares. Aside from nocturnal panic attacks, insomnia and restless sleep are among common complaints in PFD patients. Some studies suggest that PD patients display a moderate reduction in REM latency, decreased REM density, increased eye movement time, and report more frequent awakenings because breading discomfort.

Certain people experience symptoms in the middle of sleep. These are either caused by panic disorder or are identified as "night terrors". Most nighttime (or nocturnal) panics take place during non-REM sleep, which means they do not tend to come in response to dreams or nightmares. They occur between a half-hour to three and a half hours after falling asleep and are usually not as severe as daytime panics. These are distinct from night terrors, known as pavor-nocturnus in children and incubus in adults.

Causes od panic attacks at night

The exact causes for panic attacks at night are not known. Other possible causes include an increase of CO2-concentration (False Suffocation alarm hypothesis) or changes of the parasympathotonic system due to autonomic dysfunction.

Ways to deal with panic attacks at night or nocturnal panics

Learning how to prevent a panic attack is perhaps one of the most important steps any panic sufferer can take. Learn to be patient, as it will take some time to develop the proper preventative techniques.

A healthy lifestyle can, in some cases, greatly affect how often a panic attack may occur. Always remember that panic attacks can be controlled; it helps to maintain a positive attitude, control your panic attacks don't let them control you.

Lots of couples tend to discuss family and relationship issues while they prepare for bed, and this may not be the best approach for people who suffer any form of panic attack at night.

Try to reduce your stress at night as well.

Also remember that diet and exercise can have a large impact on the occurrence, and severity, of panic attacks. If you are the type of person who eats late, or enjoys nightly snacks, then it may be time to reevaluate your habits.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have, or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.