As I’ve discussed previously about sleep therapy and hypnotherapy for insomnia, sleep is so important and when we have less sleep than we should be getting, it starts to impact our bodies negatively, leading to serious health complications like strokes and heart attacks etc.

But what do you do if you struggle to sleep due to other worries like suffering from panic attacks and anxiety? This is a catch 22 situation because research shows that lack of sleep increases your anxiety throughout the day. When a person doesn’t get a full night’s restful sleep, their body wakes up with their nervous system on high alert, but for someone with anxiety or panic disorder, this means their symptoms will be heightened even more than usual. It is a real vicious cycle and if this resonates with you, I want you to know it doesn’t always have to be like this.

Today I want to discuss how panic attacks and anxiety impact sleep, and then I will share my most successful tips on how to sleep better and manage your anxiety at night.

As a life coach I have worked with countless individuals who suffer from some form of panic disorder and anxiety, and one of the most common themes that come up is not being able to control the thoughts that race through their minds all day and night. These uncontrollable thoughts make it so much harder to feel peaceful at night and close off from the rest of the world.

For some, the panic doesn’t just stop when they go to bed. In fact, there are people around the world that suffer from nocturnal panic attacks, which means they feel the same symptoms of panic attacks but when they are asleep. It can be so scary to wake up whilst experiencing chest pains, heart palpitations, sweating profusely and shaking, that it makes it so much harder to fall back to sleep again. Continuing the cycle of anxiety and poor sleep.

There are also instances where people have experienced something traumatic and when they are trying to sleep, their subconscious mind brings the trauma to the forefront, resulting in nightmares and night terrors. Both of which can be so scary as, just like nocturnal panic attacks, you may experience physical symptoms like sweating, heart palpitations but in the case of night terrors, you may find yourself waking up screaming or crying.

If you suffer from panic disorders, nocturnal panic attacks, anxiety or night terrors, here are some of my most successful tips that will help you restore some peace and calm in your mind, to hopefully have a more restful sleep at night.

  1. Firstly you want to identify the root cause – Before I carry out any work with my clients, I always explore the reasons for their symptoms. Whether they want to do this by talking through their life experiences or by guiding them through a body scan, where clients are able to tap into different parts of their body and listen to what it wants to communicate to them. For example, if they feel discomfort in their chest, this is where heart ache grief or sorrow is usually located so that would be our starting point to work through. Other times it can be pain in the neck or shoulders and they can literally be having someone who is to them being a pain in the neck. Back ache often symbols a lack of support; lower back financial fears, middle and upper back lack of emotional support.
  2. Work through the emotions – Often life encourages us to close off from our emotions, which means we are usually walking around with bottled up emotions, waiting to explode. Many of my clients experience panic attacks and anxiety as a result of trapped emotions from an experience that has been so traumatic that it needs to be addressed and needs healing from. Sometimes this could be a physical process, where we dance through emotions, or it could be through labeling the emotions and repeating affirmations where you vocalise the release of those emotions, for example, placing your hand on your chest and repeating “I acknowledge the heartache that you are holding on to and I’m releasing this pain I am on the path to healing”. Or “my health and well being is more important to me than any challenge I may face”
  3. Sleep Hypnotherapy – Sometimes we need support to close off from our conscious mind and tap into our subconscious mind. A lot of people with anxiety struggle to do this, which is why hypnotherapy for insomnia works so well. I usually encourage clients to relax in a position that is comfortable for them and then ask them to close their eyes. I then guide them through a journey of mental and physical relaxation. I then in the hypnotherapy for sleep disorders have them imagine that they are in their own special private place and are surrounded by a warm comfortable mist and their thoughts and worries are detaching and drifting away as they drift into a beautiful deep sleep.
  4. For trauma and panic, I sometimes use somatic therapy which is going into the body. I talk them through a body scan to recognize where they are feeling discomfort in their body, exploring what memories or thoughts or colors come up for them and what they mean. Lastly, I incorporate some helpful suggestions that specifically target the things that are causing their anxiety or panic disorder. For example if someone is scared after an incident or accident I have make suggestions like “I am safe, I am in control and I am stronger”. These counters the anxious thoughts flowing through the body about being hurt again.
  5. Incorporate a healthy pre-bedtime routine – I always encourage clients to create a healthy routine before they go to bed. This includes closing off from technology at least an hour before and replacing tv/checking social media with reading a book, listening to a relaxing meditation, writing in a journal and simply chatting with a loved one. Offloading thoughts before going to bed so that you can get into bed with a clear mind. Once in bed there are so many breathing techniques you can explore to help your body get into relaxation mode as often with anxiety sufferers, the body is constantly in fight or flight mode, which is what contributes to the racing thoughts and nocturnal panic attacks. There are certain breathing techniques that counteract the panic and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxing the mind and the body.

Whatever path you choose to take to heal from the past, manage your sleep and reduce the impact of panic attacks and anxiety on your well-being.

Create a good support system around you as it is so important to feel loved and appreciated at this time if in need of sleep therapy.