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3 Simple Tips On How To Deal With Nocturnal Panic Attacks

May 1, 2008
Many people who experience panic attacks or suffer from panic disorder during their daily lives will, at some point, suffer from a nocturnal panic attack. Once these are experienced, the fear of them can sometimes make a recurrence much more likely.

Research has shown that these nocturnal panic attacks appear to take place during the change from various levels of sleep, such as dreaming sleep to deeper REM sleep, or from dreaming sleep to waking up. Nocturnal panic attacks are also not related to nightmares or dreams, but instead are related to the same psychological and physical causes as the daytime attacks.

A nocturnal panic attack is much more difficult to deal with because you are not aware of the approach of the attack as you are during the day. When you are awakened by the attack, you are suddenly conscious of all of the physical symptoms all at once - and this sensation can be very terrifying. It is this overwhelming physical sensation upon becoming conscious that creates such a powerful fear of these nocturnal attacks.

However, if you are aware that you are having nocturnal panic attacks, you can use that awareness to your advantage. This awareness will help you plan a strategy to eliminate these nocturnal panic attacks.

** Medicate **

While using sleeping medication isn't always the preferred approach, since many of these medications can disrupt the normal sleeping rhythms of your body. Also, often the side effects of the drowsiness can linger into the following day. This can make it very difficult to get to work on time, or to perform to the best of your abilities when you are still feeling groggy or tired from the sleep medication that you took the night before. Furthermore, some of these medications are addictive.

However while there are side effects to the medicines - the benefits may very well outweigh the risks. If facing another nocturnal panic attack is more than you can possibly bear - then using medicine to help you sleep through the night will alleviate that fear. And removing fear from your mind is definitely the very first priority in your recovery from this disorder.

** Prepare for Bedtime **

A more natural, yet very effect approach, to reducing stress before bedtime and drastically lowering the chances of a nocturnal attack, is to prepare for bed in a way that provides for the best night of sleep that you can possibly hope for. By preparing your mind and your body for sleep - you are signaling to your mind that you intend to relax.

You can do this by allowing your body to relax as much as possible prior to bed time. Avoid drinking anything with caffeine or drinking anything with sugar. Don't eat heavy or fattening foods late in the day, because the digesting of that food in your stomach can take away from the depth of your sleep. Before going to bed, practice your preferred approach to meditation and relaxation. This might include slow stretching and exercising, or it might simply consist of slow and measured breathing techniques to lower your heart rate.

Aromatherapy, either on its own or in combination with the techniques above, also has the ability to induce a calm and relaxed feeling. Research aromas that are known to have the most calming effects and test different varieties to learn what works for you. Another excellent technique to sleeping well is introducing white noise or soothing music in your bedroom while you are sleeping. Often external noise will focus your mind during dreaming and deep sleep, and soothing noise will help to calm your mind while you are not conscious enough to do it yourself.

** Self-Talk and Relaxation Techniques **

Finally - just as you've learned to practice powerful relaxation and self-talk techniques to manage your daytime panic attacks, you need to practice the same techniques at night. However the disadvantage to suffering from nocturnal attacks is that when you are conscious, you are already in the middle of a full-blown panic attack.

They key upon waking to such a scenario is to immediate work on focusing and quickly orienting yourself to your surroundings and where you are. Then calmly and carefully talk yourself down using the same techniques that you've learned to manage your daytime attacks.

Using any one, or all, of the techniques described above will help to reduce, or completely get rid of, all of the nocturnal panic attacks that you may be suffering from.
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