Getting quality sleep is the best stress reliever for our body, and it is actually the time when we are at our most relaxed state. So is it really possible to have panic attacks during our sleep? Yes, it is very possible! You may suddenly wake up with a rapid heartbeat and racing pulse, you may feel confused, disoriented, anxious, and disconnected from reality. Other symptoms are grinding the teeth, head pain and a feeling of pressure in the ears. Read on to find out what you need to know about this kind of attacks.
About half of people who experience panic attacks during the day experience nocturnal panic attacks. A person may suddenly wake up with a rapid heartbeat and racing pulse, the individual may feel confused, disoriented, anxious, and disconnected from reality. Other symptoms are grinding the teeth, head pain and a feeling of pressure in the ears. Even though these attacks are rare (only about 10% occurrence), people who experience these find it more frightening than those that occur during the day. People who experience nighttime attacks begin to fear going to sleep. They fear that they might become comatose or worse, that they might never wake up again. These may develop into insomnia, and other sleeping problems, thus actually making the person become more susceptible to more panic attacks.
The exact causes for panic or anxiety attacks at night are not known. One cause of these kinds of attacks includes the increase of carbon dioxide in the body during sleep (false suffocation alarm) which may trigger our body's panic response. Another possible cause is that attacks are triggered during changes in the sleep cycle, such as when an individual moves into a defect stage of sleep. But one thing the experts agree on is that this kind of attacks is not caused by dreams. Studies have shown that these attacks occurred during the early stages of sleep before the person begins to dream. Nightmares, on the other hand, occurs during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase or the dream phase. There is another type of disorder, more common among children, which manifests in symptoms very much like panic or anxiety attacks, but this kind of sleeping disorder occurs during deep phases of sleep. Sleep panic attacks are primarily influenced by the events during the daytime. Consumption of alcohol, drugs, depression, and stress, may also influence these.