Addiction Recovery - Mental Health

Nighttime Anxiety: How to Calm Yourself Down at Night

Nighttime Anxiety

Nighttime anxiety can keep you up at night...and make your days even worse. However, nighttime anxiety can be managed. Learn more in our blog.

Nighttime anxiety can be a formidable obstacle, particularly for those on the path to recovery. Its pervasive presence often disrupts sleep and exacerbates the challenges of overcoming addiction.

Fortunately, techniques exist to help surmount this challenge. In this article, we will discuss what nighttime anxiety is, why it happens, and provide tips on how to calm yourself down at night.

Understanding Nighttime Anxiety

Nighttime anxiety refers to feelings of restlessness, fear, or worry that arise during the evening hours. It can manifest in different forms - from feeling on edge and unable to relax to experiencing intense panic attacks. These feelings can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and a constant state of exhaustion.

Why Does Nighttime Anxiety Happen?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to why nighttime anxiety occurs. It can be triggered by various factors including stress, trauma, genetics, and even certain medications. For those struggling with addiction, nighttime anxiety can also be a result of the fear of relapse or negative thoughts about the recovery process.

Additionally, hormone imbalances, particularly in women during menstruation or menopause, can contribute to feelings of anxiety at night.

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What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural bodily reaction to anything unknown or unfamiliar. Fear, a sense of doom, worry—all these feelings are experienced before a potentially dangerous situation. From mildly negative instances to feeling threatened, all can lead to anxiety.

Many people have noticed that their anxiety worsens as soon as the lights go out. They experience rapid negative thoughts just before sleep, a phenomenon known as nighttime anxiety. It is not a separate subtype of anxiety disorder but rather a common occurrence among those who fixate on upsetting thoughts and events.

During the day, most of us are occupied with tasks, minimizing the time for dwelling on upsetting instances. However, at night, without distractions, troubled thoughts may surface, affecting sleep patterns. Let's explore some major causes of anxiety at night.

Understanding Nighttime Anxiety

Nighttime anxiety presents unique challenges, affecting individuals' ability to attain restful sleep. By defining its characteristics and exploring its underlying causes, we can better address its impact, especially for those in recovery.

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Reasons for Worsening Anxiety at Night

There are many reasons people experience nighttime anxiety.

Changes in Environment

The transition from a busy daytime environment to a quieter, darker setting can amplify feelings of vulnerability and isolation. Diminished external stimuli can magnify internal worries and fears.

Lack of Distractions

With fewer distractions at night, individuals may find themselves more susceptible to intrusive thoughts and worries. The absence of daytime activities can allow negative thoughts to spiral unchecked.

Body's Natural Rhythms

Biological factors, such as fluctuations in cortisol levels and the circadian rhythm, can contribute to increased anxiety during nighttime hours. Hormonal changes and the body's preparation for sleep can heighten emotional sensitivity and arousal.

Challenges for Individuals in Recovery

Individuals recovering from substance abuse face additional hurdles in managing nighttime anxiety. About 6.2 percent of the American population has some form of anxiety disorder, and this statistic underscores the prevalence of anxiety among those in recovery.

Withdrawal Symptoms

The discomfort and distress associated with withdrawal can exacerbate anxiety, especially during the vulnerable period before sleep.


The desire to use substances as a coping mechanism for anxiety can intensify during nighttime hours, leading to heightened cravings.

Underlying Mental Health Issues

Co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or PTSD, can contribute to nighttime anxiety and complicate recovery efforts.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for tailoring effective interventions and support systems to address nighttime anxiety, particularly for individuals navigating the complexities of substance abuse recovery.

Understanding the intricate relationship between substance abuse and anxiety is vital in comprehending the challenges individuals face in recovery. Delving into this connection sheds light on the cyclical nature of dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and the risks associated with self-medication.

Cycle of Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms

Substance misuse can create a cycle of dependence, wherein individuals rely on drugs or alcohol to cope with underlying anxiety or other mental health issues.

Withdrawal from substances can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, leading to increased cravings and a heightened risk of relapse. The fear of withdrawal symptoms can perpetuate substance use, further entrenching the cycle of dependence and anxiety.

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Effects of Commonly Abused Substances on Anxiety

Contrary to popular opinion, many drugs do not actually help you relax.


While initially perceived as a relaxant, alcohol can disrupt neurotransmitter levels in the brain, leading to rebound anxiety during withdrawal.


Prescribed for anxiety disorders, benzodiazepines can paradoxically worsen anxiety over time, leading to dependence and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.


Opioid abuse can contribute to anxiety through alterations in brain chemistry and heightened stress responses, increasing the risk of co-occurring mental health disorders.

Risk of Self-Medicating for Nighttime Anxiety

Individuals with anxiety may turn to substances as a form of self-medication to alleviate symptoms temporarily.

However, self-medicating can lead to a dangerous cycle of increased tolerance, dependence, and worsening anxiety over time.

The risk of relapse or increased dependency is heightened when individuals use substances to cope with anxiety, perpetuating the cycle of addiction and mental health struggles.

At Edge Treatment Center, we understand the complex interplay between substance abuse and anxiety. Our comprehensive approach to recovery addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, providing tailored support to individuals seeking freedom from substance misuse and its associated anxieties. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug misuse or addiction, reach out to us for compassionate and effective assistance.

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Would you like more information about nighttime anxiety? Reach out today.

How to Calm Nighttime Anxiety

Combatting anxiety at night requires proactive measures to create a conducive environment for restorative sleep. Implementing practical strategies can help individuals regain control over their nighttime routines and alleviate anxiety.

Establishing a Calming Bedtime Routine

  • Create a consistent bedtime routine that signals to your body that it's time to wind down and relax.

  • Incorporate soothing activities such as reading, gentle stretching, or taking a warm bath to promote relaxation before sleep.

  • Avoid stimulating activities or stressful tasks close to bedtime, allowing your mind and body to transition peacefully into sleep mode.

Limiting Exposure to Screens and Stimulating Activities

  • Minimize screen time, particularly from electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, and televisions, at least an hour before bedtime.

  • Engage in calming activities such as listening to soft music, practicing gentle yoga, or enjoying a relaxing hobby to quiet the mind and prepare for sleep.

  • Create a tranquil sleep environment by dimming lights, reducing noise, and ensuring a comfortable temperature conducive to restful sleep.

Utilizing Relaxation Techniques

  • Practice deep breathing exercises to promote relaxation and reduce physiological arousal associated with anxiety.

  • Incorporate meditation or mindfulness techniques to cultivate a sense of calm and presence, allowing worries and intrusive thoughts to dissipate.

  • Explore guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation exercises to release tension and induce a state of relaxation conducive to sleep.

Importance of a Supportive Environment

  • Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or peers who understand and validate your experiences with nighttime anxiety.

  • Communicate your needs and concerns with loved ones, seeking reassurance and encouragement when navigating challenging moments.

  • Consider making adjustments to your living situation, such as creating a calming sleep environment free from distractions or implementing relaxation techniques as a shared practice with household members.

By incorporating these practical strategies into your nightly routine, you can cultivate a sense of calm and tranquility conducive to restorative sleep. At Edge Treatment Center, we recognize the importance of holistic approaches to managing anxiety and promoting overall well-being. If you're struggling with nighttime anxiety or substance misuse, we're here to provide personalized support and guidance on your journey to recovery.

How to Manage Nighttime Anxiety

Nighttime anxiety can be managed effectively.

Seek Treatment From a Certified Mental Healthcare Professional

Consulting a qualified mental health professional ensures personalized treatment tailored to your specific needs and symptoms. Healthcare providers can prescribe anxiety medication and recommend behavioral therapies, offering a holistic approach to managing anxiety disorders.

Be Open and Honest with Your Healthcare Provider

Share every detail of your symptoms and experiences with your doctor to facilitate accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Maintaining a sleep diary can help track your symptoms and provide valuable insights during medical consultations.

Explore Treatment Options Beyond Medications

In addition to medications and therapies, healthcare providers may suggest alternative treatments such as herbal supplements or addressing underlying medical conditions. Behavioral therapy and counseling are widely utilized for managing anxiety and depression disorders, focusing on identifying and addressing the root causes of anxiety.

Understand the Benefits of Behavioral Therapy

Therapies like exposure therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are effective in teaching healthy coping skills and addressing the underlying sources of anxiety. Behavioral therapies complement medications by offering long-term solutions and helping patients develop sustainable coping mechanisms.

Consider Medication Options

Mental healthcare providers may prescribe beta blockers, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, or sleep medications to manage anxiety symptoms.

Each medication type targets specific aspects of anxiety, such as physical symptoms, mood regulation, or brain activity, with varying degrees of success and potential side effects.

Struggling with Nighttime Anxiety? You’re Not Alone

In conclusion, managing nighttime anxiety requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. By implementing practical strategies such as establishing calming bedtime routines, limiting screen time, and utilizing relaxation techniques, individuals can take proactive steps toward alleviating anxiety and promoting restful sleep.

Furthermore, understanding the link between substance abuse and anxiety is crucial in navigating the complexities of recovery. Seeking support from qualified professionals, such as those at The Edge Treatment Center, ensures access to comprehensive treatment options tailored to individual needs. Whether struggling with mental health challenges, substance abuse, or both, our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective support to guide individuals toward healing and recovery.

Remember, you're not alone in your journey. Reach out to The Edge today to discover the support and resources available to help you overcome nighttime anxiety and reclaim your well-being.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery

Mental Health

June 20, 2024


Frequently Asked Questions

Nighttime offers fewer distractions, allowing intrusive thoughts to surface. Changes in environment and hormonal fluctuations can also heighten anxiety levels as bedtime approaches.

Establish a calming bedtime routine, limit screen time, and practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Creating a tranquil sleep environment can also promote restful sleep.

Self-medication with substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines may offer temporary relief but can worsen anxiety over time and increase the risk of dependency and addiction.

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Seeking support from a certified mental health professional is essential. They can provide personalized treatment plans, including therapy, medication, and holistic approaches tailored to your needs.

Yes, The Edge Treatment Center offers comprehensive support for individuals struggling with nighttime anxiety, substance abuse, and related challenges. Our expert team provides personalized treatment plans to guide you towards recovery.