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 night’s 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 what’s 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

Ideally, you should minimize the chances of a nocturnal panic attack while traveling by addressing your daytime anxiety. This may include things like having a detailed daily agenda, planning plenty of downtime between events, taking some of the comforts of home with you such as favorite snacks, etc. However, if you nevertheless experience a nighttime panic attack, there are things you can do to minimize the impact it has on you and on your chances of developing ongoing insomnia.

  • Wait a few minutes to see if you are able to fall back asleep relatively quickly. However, don’t wait too long, as frustration will only make matters worse.
  • If a rapid return to sleep is not an option, get out of bed and fully wake yourself.
  • Some people benefit from distraction techniques like reading a book or watching TV until they become sleepy.
  • For others, the best approach is to address the attack directly by accepting and observing it. In that case, it can be helpful to describe the attack and thoughts associated with it in a journal entry.
  • Use relaxation technique like meditation to create a calm state.
  • Don’t return to bed until you feel ready to sleep.

After a Nocturnal Panic Attack

If you experience a nighttime panic attack, you may feel compelled to take action the next day to ensure it doesn’t happen again, such as wearing yourself out through exercise or consuming alcohol or medication close to bedtime. However, keeping these plans at the forefront of your mind can raise your anxiety level and actually increase your chances of another attack. To whatever degree you can, it’s better to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and repeatedly remind yourself that if another attack occurs, the worst thing that happens is you lose some sleep — and that will actually make it easier to sleep the following night. The key is to resist the natural inclination to fear another nocturnal attack and to avoid putting too much effort into preventing it.

If you have questions about anxiety, nocturnal panic attacks, or insomnia, especially as you prepare for a summer trip, don’t hesitate to contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn about our services. We have centers in the Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Tips for Tackling Insomnia So You Can Enjoy Your Summer Trip

Insomnia can be frustrating and exhausting at any time of year. But struggling with sleeplessness when you want to be enjoying the summer trip you’ve been looking forward to is especially irritating. So, before you hop on a plane or head out on your road trip, take action to get into a good groove with your sleep. That way you’ll have plenty of energy to enjoy your adventure.

Great Ways to Get More Zzzzzs

When you’re tossing and turning at night, it might feel like insomnia will never loosen its grip on you. However, there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances to have longer and better quality sleep. Try these proven strategies:

  • Create the proper sleeping environment. If possible, your bedroom should be dark, quiet and relatively cool. Those conditions signal the body that it’s time to rest. If noises outside your room catch your attention, you might consider playing some soft “white noise” to mask the sound. Consider purchasing a sleep mask to keep the light out when a dark room is not available.
  • Establish a consistent rhythm. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps your body understand when it should rest and when it should be active. Stick to a set schedule as much as possible.
  • Limit or eliminate naps. Your lack of sleep may make you want to nap during the day, but unfortunately, napping can make the insomnia worse. Your best bet to achieve a good night’s sleep is to go to bed feeling tired, and remember napping can mean you have more energy than you should at bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try not to consume caffeine late in the day. Or better yet, remove it from your diet altogether. Alcohol has a sedative effect on the body. However, that effect only lasts for a few hours after your last drink. After that, alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to get restful sleep and can cause frequent awakenings.
  • Don’t eat or drink just before bedtime. Activating your digestive system just before trying to sleep is a bad idea for multiple reasons, including things like heartburn that can make it hard to drift off. And, consuming fluids may result in one or more trips to the bathroom overnight.
  • Get regular exercise. Working out consistently can improve both the quality and the quantity of your sleep. And while the advice has always been to avoid exercising within three or four hours of bedtime, some recent studies are questioning that age-old wisdom. You should experiment to see what’s best for you.
  • Limit your activities in bed. Your bed should be used for sleeping and romance only. Watching TV, reading, paying bills and other activities teach your brain that this is a place where you should be doing other things, which makes it hard to “switch off” when you’re ready to sleep.
  • Reduce your stress. Worry is one of the main causes of insomnia for many people. There are a number of ways to decrease your stress including things like meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing, biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation to name just a few. Journaling about your concerns can also be beneficial as you get anxious thought onto paper and out of your head temporarily.

Get Some Sleep Before You Get on the Road

Your summer vacation is no time to be struggling with insomnia. Prepare for your trip by taking steps to manage it. We have programs for treating sleeplessness and associated. Contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to learn about our services. We have centers in the Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.