Sleep Panic Attacks – Causes and Treatments
When you are about to go to bed, the last thing that
you will get worried about is experiencing sleep panic
attacks. After all, you focus will be more on getting
enough rest to live for the next day. As a matter of fact,
about 70% of people who are suffering from anxiety
disorders might also suffer from attacks during their
Understanding Sleep Panic Attacks
Medical researches have shown that these attacks
happen in the early stages of sleeping. They are not
caused by dreams. In addition, this condition is far
worse than insomnia since patients suffering from this
condition wake up in fear, sweating, palpitations and
shortness of breath. This is also different from sleep
apnea since the latter is not associated anxiety yet it is
indirectly linked with sleep panic attacks. This is
because sleep apnea affects blood pressure and heart
The main reason for these panic attacks is still
unknown. However, experts suspect carbon dioxide
build-up in the body might be one of the major causes.
This is also known as the false suffocation alarm which
triggers the body to respond through rapid heartbeat
rate and strenuous breathing. Other factors include
alcohol, drugs, lifestyle, stress and depression.
The patient usually wakes up confused, anxious and
disoriented on what’s happening, which elevates the
panic attack. Even when we sleep, the mind continues
to work. When a person has a stressful life and they fail
to let go of the entire burden before sleeping, thus, the
body reacts this way during sleep.
Possible Health Risks of Sleep Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks happening during sleep can pose health
concerns which are as follows:
•Insomnia – Patients become more fearful once they
wake up. What makes it worse is the thought that the
attacks will recur when they go back to sleep. If this is
left untreated, it can lead to chronic insomnia.
•More frequent attacks – Lack of sleep and rest will
most likely cause more anxiety attacks during sleep as
well as during the day.
•Loss of energy – Sleepless nights will make one more
tired during the day since the body loses enough rest.
More problems will also follow such as emotional
instability, weight loss/gain and lack of confidence.
Treatment for Sleep Panic Attacks
There are several ways to treat this problem. The two
major ways to go about it is by going under medications
and cognitive behavior therapies.
•Medications – This includes taking medicines such as
sleeping pills and anti-depressants. However, one
should consult with the doctor first before taking these.
One should not self-medicate to avoid side effects such
as appetite loss, dry mouth and headache. More
adverse effects include heart attack, addiction and death
if not taken properly.
•Cognitive Behavior Therapy – This works in treating
sleep panic attacks by seeing a specialist who will help
the patient see things in a different way. The therapy is
effective in helping the patient relax and get peaceful
sleep. This treatment have six stages which include
biofeedback, cognitive control and psychotherapy,
relaxation training, remaining passively awake, sleep
hygiene, sleep control and stimulus control.