Waking up in the middle of the night is bad enough, but it gets even worse when your mind starts racing and you're not sure how to make it stop. Good luck getting back to sleep after that. Now, Discovery News' latest video explains what's really going on when we get those midnight jitters — and how to make them go away.
As the video describes, we can experience anxiety in our sleep. That usually happens when we've been anxious about something during the day and our minds mimic that reaction at night. Which means you don't even have to be awake to feel it. This can wake us up, and once we're up, it can be nearly impossible to catch some ZZZs again. To make matters worse, this could also cause anxiety surrounding sleep, making it difficult to doze off to begin with. This chronic pattern of insomnia can lead to other long-term health problems including depression and heart disease. And, let's not forget the dire consequences of nationwide sleep deprivation.
To prevent waking up in the middle of the night, you can try practicing good sleep hygiene, which involves sticking to a schedule, not drinking caffeine too late in the day, and avoiding phone, computer, and TV screens before bedtime. If it's just onetime anxiety, experts suggest getting up and out of your room. Then, if you can distract yourself with a book or something else that's positive (again, no screens!) for a few minutes, you'll feel tired again and can hopefully return to your slumber.
While many of us may experience this at some point in our lives, if it's happening every night, a true sleep or anxiety disorder may be to blame. For instance, if that anxiety comes with dizziness or feeling shaky, it can become a full-blown panic attack. If that happens enough, panic disorder may be the cause; women are twice as likely as men to develop this disorder. In cases like this, it's best to check in with your doctor. But, whatever your situation, we wish you the best of luck in your journey to perfect sleep — and, of course, sweet dreams.