You’ve finally gotten to sleep and may even be having a dream when suddenly you’re awake. Not only awake, but your heart is pounding, you have trouble breathing, you may be sweating, and the thought that something terrible is about to happen fills your mind.

Are you having a heart attack? No. You’re having a panic attack that hits while you’re asleep.

While not a common time, you can have a panic attack while sleeping.

Like those you may have in the daytime, a panic attack while sleeping hits without warning. It’s often more difficult to deal with because your mind isn’t completely awake while your body is. Thus, you can’t reason your way through the panic attack.

Impact of Panic Attack While Sleeping

Just like panic attacks when you’re awake, those that happen when you’re asleep are frightening events. Maybe more frightening than when you’re awake. Here are some of the reasons for this.

  • They hit without warning. Being asleep and more relaxed makes this impact worse.
  • Your mind isn’t awake to help you know what’s happening.
  • They bring more thoughts of serious health problems, especially with your heart.
  • You probably won’t return to sleep quickly or easily.
  • You may begin being afraid of going to sleep again.

 

Some Causes of Panic Attack While Sleeping

In addition to the anxiety that can bring on panic attacks, there are some physical causes of panic attacks while sleeping.

Sleep Apnea. In this condition, your airway gets obstructed during sleep and you aren’t able to breathe. Many people with this condition will awaken enough to turn over and go immediately back to sleep, often with no memory of waking up because it is so brief.

But those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks are always “turned on” to what’s going on with their bodies. Once they stop breathing, it becomes very apparent to them and they wake up with the need to breathe. This leads to hyperventilation that often brings on a panic attack.

Nightmares. Terrifying dreams can lead to panic attacks. In nightmares, people often hyperventilate due to the images they see in the dreams. This can then trigger a panic attack that wakes them up, with all of the frightening symptoms that come with the panic.

GERD. This medical condition, gastroesophageal reflux disease, is often caused by eating too soon prior to going to bed. Acid reflux, as it is often called, is worse when lying down and can bring on some uncomfortable physical sensations. Each of those sensations can be triggers for panic attack.

The sensations include:

· chest discomfort

· burning sensation in your throat

· night sweats

· pressure in your stomach

· hyperventilation

 

Having a panic attack while sleeping can be more frightening than those in the daytime for another reason, also. At night, your feeling of being all alone with no one to help is increased. There is not enough light available for you to look at something and distract yourself from the panic feelings. All this makes these panic attacks much worse.

References

Can someone have a panic attack while sleeping? http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/panic-attacks/expert-answers/panic-attacks/faq-20057984

Can I Have a Panic Attack While I'm Sleeping  https://www.verywell.com/can-i-have-a-panic-attack-while-im-sleeping-2584260