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Can Insomnia Cause Panic Attacks

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The Distinction Between Anxiety And Stress

3 Major Signs Insomnia Is Leading to an Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety and stress are both emotional responses to physical and psychological triggers. Common examples include a near-fatal car accident or the threat of financial instability. But exactly how are they different?

First, stress is your body’s short-term response to identifiable external threats called stressors. Hans Selye, the father of stress research, defined it as the ânonspecific response of the body to any demand.” For example, you automatically tense up when an oncoming car heads toward you.

Meanwhile, anxiety is triggered by your body’s stress response. Whereas stress dissipates the moment you are out of a threatening situation, anxiety lingers like a guest that has overstayed its welcome.

Using the same example, you may continue to feel anxious even after you’ve swerved your car in time to avoid a crash. Perhaps you’re fretting over potential what-ifs, like, “What if my reflexes aren’t quick enough the next time?” or “What if I hadn’t been paying attention just now?” As you can see, anxiety sets off persistent, obsessive thoughts about possible threats that may or may not happen.

What Female Hormone Causes Anxiety

During perimenopause the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone fluctuate, so do the levels of progesterone . The ups and downs in the level of these hormones starts to disrupt the monthly cycle of bleeds. Your periods become irregular until they stop altogether. The fluctuating hormone levels can also disrupt the way you feel, both physically and psychologically.

What Happens Inside Your Body

Your bodyâs âfight or flightâ response is behind these intense physical symptoms. Normally when you encounter a threat whether itâs a grizzly bear or a swerving car your nervous system springs into action. The hormone adrenaline floods into your bloodstream, putting your body on high alert. Your heartbeat quickens, which sends more blood to your muscles. Your breathing becomes fast and shallow, so you can take in more oxygen. Your blood sugar spikes. Your senses get sharper.

All of these changes which happen in an instant give you the energy you need to confront a dangerous situation or get out of harmâs way quickly.

With random panic attacks, your body goes on alert for no reason. Researchers donât know exactly what triggers them. But the physical effects are real: During a panic attack, the adrenaline levels in the body can spike by 2 1/2 times or more.

Panic attacks may not come as unexpectedly as they seem. The physical changes may start about an hour before an attack. In one study, people with panic disorder wore devices that tracked their heart activity, sweating, and breathing. The results showed lower-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide, a sign of rapid, deep breathing that can leave you breathless, as early as about 45 minutes before the panic attack.

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Use Medication To Fall Asleep Easier

If you have severe insomnia, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.

Several prescription sleeping pills are used to treat insomnia, including Lunesta® , Ambien® , Silenor® and others.

Although these medications are effective at promoting sleep, they can cause side effects. Findings are also mixed on their potential effects on rapid eye movement sleep and deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep.

Make sure to closely follow your healthcare providers instructions if youre prescribed any type of sleep medication.

Tips And Tricks For Anxious Sleepers

Insomnia Causes Info

Youve heard it before. It is the go-to phrase that health and wellness writers use time and time again, but it is also our best piece of advice. We dont claim to have all the answers, and were not in a position to know your body like you or your doctor does.

The bedroom should be a place conducive to rest. Nick Littlehales, a professional sleep coach and author of the book Sleep, indicates the only purpose of a bedroom should be for sleeping. He recommends sleepers have a dark and cool environment.

This can be achieved by using blackout curtains and keeping the air conditioner around 66 degrees at night. Littlehales strongly suggest removing a TV or computer from the bedroom as well as keeping your phone in another room and limiting the use of any blue light emitting devices to one hour before sleep.

Sleepers should also establish a routine that prepares them for sleep. Taking a bath or shower before bed can help the body relax and give you some time to yourself. Likewise, reading a book can help distract you from lifes worries.

Anxious types often have their minds racing before they sleep. A recent study shows that journaling can be a resourceful way of getting all your thoughts out and planning for the next day before your head hits the pillow.

It is best not to do anything that involves blue lights or is overly engaging. Just be sure not to relax too much while sitting on the sofa, its best if you still get to sleep in your bed.

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This Is Your Body In Anxious Mode

When you’re stuck in anxious mode, chances are your heart races, your underarms sweat, and your muscles tense up. But these are just the tip of the iceberg when detailing symptoms of anxiety. Other common examples include:

  • Breathlessness or rapid breathing

In more serious cases of anxiety, you may even encounter sensations like:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms and legs

To understand why you’re feeling these physical effects, we need to dive down to the biological level.

When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus in your brain releases corticotropin-releasing factor . This hormone is the main driver of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. CRF prompts the pituitary gland to release the adrenocorticotropic hormone into the bloodstream. When the adrenocorticotropic hormone reaches the adrenal glands, stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, are released into your system.

But CRF’s realm of control also extends to emotional regulation and cognitive functioning. Specifically, CRF downplays serotonin secretion, a neurotransmitter that controls your moods and is also known as your body’s feel-good chemical. Low serotonin levels, courtesy of an anxious mind, allow negative emotions to breed, like depression, frustration, and fear.

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased production of blood glucose and fatty acids for energy metabolism
  • Increased cognitive activity

Summer Travel Tip: Managing Nocturnal Panic Attacks And Insomnia

Summer trips can be a fun way to see other parts of the country and create lasting memories. However, for those who suffer from anxiety disorder, being away from home and familiar routines can cause a worsening of symptoms that lead to other issues. In particular, heightened anxiety can lead to nocturnal panic attacks and insomnia. Thankfully, these issues can be addressed and increase the odds of getting the restful nights sleep you need.

Nighttime Panic: More Common than You Might Think

People tend to think of panic attacks as episodes that occur exclusively during the day. However, nocturnal panic attacks are not uncommon. When they strike, it can be especially disorienting as you are half asleep and trying to understand whats going on. They may result in you feeling especially vulnerable in darkness and because your family is sleeping and not available to comfort and reassure you.

Needless to say, a nighttime panic attack disturbs your sleep.This can be true both as the attack is underway and on subsequent nights if you get into bed fearing another attack may occur. This can result in recurring insomnia.

How to Manage a Nocturnal Panic Attack

After a Nocturnal Panic Attack

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How Is Sleep Anxiety Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider performs a physical exam, reviews your medical history and evaluates your symptoms. They may ask you questions like:

  • Do you eat or drink anything before bed?
  • Does your anxiety always occur before bed?
  • How long does it take you to fall asleep?
  • How often do you wake up during the night?
  • What activities do you do before bed?

Coping With Panic Attacks

How Anxiety causes Insomnia (and how to sleep like a baby!)

While there is no specific or permanent cure for panic attacks, there is help available. This can either be through the intervention of a mental health professional, who may use therapy, prescription medicines, or a combination of both. In addition, there is a huge variety of self-help strategies that can help you manage your symptoms and attacks.

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Treatments And Remedies For Anxiety And Sleep Deprivation

If youre struggling with anxiety, there are many ways to reach out and receive help. Going to a medical professional will result in positive solutions. These remedies are designed to help short term, not treat long-term symptoms. Because we have sleep specialists at the Ear, Nose and Throat Institute, well mostly be coming at it from that angle.

Here are a few remedies for symptom relief:

  • Breathing exercises for anxiety
  • Find hobbies that you enjoy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Turn off the electronics an hour before bed
  • Dont eat a couple hours before bedtime
  • Stay consistent with a sleep schedule
  • Use the bedroom only for sleep, not for activities like watching TV, playing video games, etc. This trains the brain to prep for sleep when you lay down.

The last piece of advice that Im going to give is that if youre suffering from sleep deprivation or even sleep apnea, come to the ENT Institute for a sleep study. Our sleep specialists will effectively diagnose and treat you, getting you back to better sleep in no time.

To schedule a sleep study, call 770-740-1860 or fill out the form at the top of the page.

Panic Attacks And Sleep Disorders

Jul 3, 2003 | Mental Health | 0 |

Tests such as overnight sleep studies, manometry, pH monitoring, or electroencephalography can help physicians determine if patients complaining of nocturnal panic attacks have possible sleep disorders.

If a person suddenly awakens from a deep sleep with chest pain and breaths can be taken only in short, unfulfilling gasps, it can leave that person feeling suffocated and dizzy. Their fingers will tingle and slowly become numb and a rush of anxiety arises as the realization occurs that this could be a heart attack and a prelude to dying. This person may go to an emergency department only to be told that these are symptoms of a panic attack.

During a panic attack, people have at least four of the following symptoms: heart palpitations or pounding heartbeat sweating shakiness or trembling hyperventilation as a result of feeling suffocated fear of losing control chest pain sensation of choking nausea or abdominal distress dizziness, fainting, or lightheadedness hot flashes or chills numbness or tingling sensations in the extremities sudden rush of fear, sense of impending doom or death, or desperate urge to flee and/or a sense of being detached from self or reality. These symptoms arise suddenly even though there is no actual threat and subside in about 10 to 20 minutes.

Regina Patrick, RPSGT, is a contributing writer for Sleep Review.

Shapiro CM, Sloan EP. Nocturnal panicÂan underrecognized entity. J Psychosom Res. 1998 44:21-23.

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Stress Over Lack Of Sleep

Sometimes the the connection between sleep and anxiety can be quite straight forward. One common issue for those with sleep debt is stress over the fact that theyre not getting enough sleep. Whilst worrying about not getting enough sleep and what the consequences of sleep deprivation will be, the brain remains active and may struggle to relax. This can contribute to greater difficulty in falling and staying asleep. The overall consequence is poorer sleep, and a vicious circle of sleep deprivation and anxiety about lack of sleep can develop.

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Panic Disorder In Children

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Causes and Risk Factors

Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.

Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.

If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.

After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.

They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.

Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your childs panic attacks.

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Can Nighttime Panic Attacks Be Prevented

According to Dr. Bea, one of the characteristics of true panic is that it occurs spontaneously like a bolt of lightning across a blue sky. While we cant prevent sleep panic attacks, he says that we can develop more effective mechanisms for coping with the stressors in our lives.

You might increase exercise or start a mindfulness practice. Overall, it doesnt hurt to actively develop coping strategies. However, understand that doing these things may or may not influence the experience of a nighttime panic attack.

Whats another thing you can do to lessen the intensity of a sleep panic attack? Normalize the experience.

Dr. Bea explains.

These experiences feel threatening and dangerous. You fear the worst when your hearts racing, youre short of breath, youre trembling and you have a sense of impending doom or feel like youre losing control, he says.

As frightening as the experience is, its safe. Of course, when we have a catastrophic thought or appraisal of the event, it tends to drive more panic it gets our body aroused. Learn to normalize that experience, to notice the sensations but dont try to fix them.

Dr. Bea compares it to being in quicksand.

After a sleep panic attack, youre not going to recover quickly and go right back to sleep. Dr. Bea recommends getting up and going into another room to do a relaxing activity . No catching up on work or paying bills. Do something that will help you calm down until youre able to go back to sleep.

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The standard advice to people who feel panicky between meals is to eat carbohydrates every three hours to prevent blood sugar from dropping. However, that approach can actually worsen the problem over time by increasing your bodyâs dependence on sugar as well as your risk for insulin resistance.

It is much wiser to remove refined carbohydrates from the diet to prevent blood sugar from spiking in the first place. I recommend eliminating them for at least two weeks to see how you feel. It is best for all of us to permanently avoid these processed sugar sources anyway, so in taking this one small step toward identifying your dietary demons, youâll be taking a giant leap toward overall good health.

Bottom Line

The most powerful way to change your brain chemistry is by changing how you eat. Keep a food and symptom journal to see if you notice any patterns, keeping in mind that some foods may not trigger symptoms until many hours later. What you discover may be the key to your peace of mind and a good nightâs sleep.

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Suggestions For Improving Sleep

There are several strategies for helping you avoid behaviors that get in the way of good sleep. You can develop good sleep habits by practicing some of the below:

  • Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety at bedtime. Other relaxation techniques include taking a warm bath or meditating prior to going to bed.
  • Controlling stimuli such as using the bedroom for sleep only and not allowing other stimuli such as electronics in. This will help you dissociate your bed as a place of busy activity.
  • Setting a consistent bedtime and wake-up time can help you train yourself for consistent sleep.
  • Avoiding naps and similar sleep restrictions can make you feel more tired at bedtime which can help improve insomnia for some people.
  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime can help you be physically ready for sleep. Your doctor might also recommend avoiding alcohol close to bedtime.

Your doctor may suggest other strategies tailored to your sleep environment and lifestyle that will help you learn and develop habits that will promote healthy sleep.

Can Lack Of Sleep & Nutrients Cause Panic Attacks

Anxiety, Palpitations, Insomnia, Panic Attacks

Panic attacks, a type of anxiety disorder, involve episodes of extreme anxiety or terror out of proportion to any actual threat. They can come on without warning, in response to mild stressors or even while you sleep, and they can have intense physical symptoms such as trembling, nausea, racing heart rate, dizziness, sweating, cramps, chest pain or a choking feeling. Although several things can cause panic attacks, good-quality sleep and nutrition may help you avoid future episodes.

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Some Panic Attack Symptoms:

  • fear of losing control
  • fear of dying

In the US, panic disorder affects over 6 million adults with women twice as likely to be affected as men. In Europe, 3% of the population will have a panic attack in any given year.

Did you know that some pretty famous people have had panic attacks? Emma Stone, Sarah Silverman, Stephen Colbert, Kirsten Stewart, and Kim Basinger all have dealt with bouts of irrational fear.

Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABCs Nightline, famously had a panic attack on air. Barbara Streisand was unable to perform in public for years until she worked through her attacks.

While the causes are poorly understood, panic attacks are believed to be the result of genetics, thought patterns, stress, and other environmental factors.

Panic attacks can make daily life hard. They can affect relationships and lead to many other problems if left untreated, including links to other health conditions like sleep apnea.

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