This is How to Tell if You Have Sleep Panic Disorder

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Most people have experienced occasional insomnia or a bad dream here and there. But for some, sleep can be a source of anxiety and fear rather than relaxation. If you’re someone who regularly experiences panic attacks or anxiety during sleep, you may have sleep panic disorder.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms and causes of this condition and treatment options.

What is Sleep Panic Disorder?

Sleep panic disorder is a form of anxiety that causes panic attacks during sleep. These attacks can occur either during REM sleep (when we dream) or NREM sleep (non-REM or deep sleep). People with this condition often experience anxiety and fear upon falling asleep, which can lead to difficulty sleeping.

Nocturnal panic attacks can be highly frightening. They may cause you to wake up suddenly from sleep with intense anxiety or fear. Your heart may race and feel like you can’t breathe. You may also sweat, shake, or have trouble sleeping again for the rest of the night.

Depositphotos 288059130 S

Symptoms of Sleep Panic Disorder

Nocturnal panic attacks are the main symptom of sleep panic disorder. However, people with this condition may also experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Sudden awakening from sleep with a feeling of terror or doom
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sense of suffocation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea

When you wake up from a nocturnal panic attack, you may feel disoriented and not know where you are. This can be especially frightening if you’re not used to waking up in the middle of the night.

You will likely feel more tired during the day if you regularly experience nighttime panic attacks, as they can disrupt your sleep. In turn, lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can worsen anxiety and make panic attacks more likely. It’s a cycle that can be difficult to break out of.

What Causes Sleep Panic Disorder?

The exact cause of sleep panic disorder is unknown. However, several factors may contribute to the development of this condition, including:


People who have relatives with anxiety disorders or panic attacks may be more likely to develop sleep panic disorder.


Stressful life events, such as a death in the family or job loss, can trigger sleep panic disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also be a cause.


People with certain personality types, such as perfectionists or with high levels of anxiety, may be more likely to develop sleep panic disorder.

Substance abuse

Some substances, such as alcohol and certain drugs, can trigger sleep panic attacks.

Sleep disorders

People with sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, may be more likely to experience panic attacks during sleep.

How to Deal with a Panic Attack

Daytime panic attacks can be scary, but panic attacks at night can feel especially frightening. If you experience a panic attack, there are several things you can do to try to calm yourself down:

Breathe slowly and deeply. Focus on taking deep, even breaths and count to four as you breathe in through your nose, then count to four as you breathe out through your mouth. This will help to slow down your heart rate and calm your body.

Focus on something else. Try to focus your attention on something else, such as a book, a movie, or a puzzle. This can help to take your mind off of your panic attack and allow you to relax.

Talk to someone. Talking to a friend or family member can help to distract you from your panic attack and make you feel more comfortable.

Get up and move around. Sometimes, getting out of bed and moving around can help to stop a panic attack. Walking, stretching, or doing some other type of light exercise can help to calm your body and mind.

Try to relax. Once the panic attack has subsided, try to relax comfortably. You may want to read, listen to music, or take a bath. Relaxing activities can help you to feel better and prevent future panic attacks.

Treatments for Sleep Panic Disorder

If you think you may be experiencing sleep panic disorder symptoms, you must talk to a doctor or mental health professional. There are several treatment options available that can help lessen the frequency and severity of panic attacks. These include:

Depositphotos 224417576 S

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a therapy that helps people understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their anxiety. A therapist can teach you specific techniques for managing anxiety and help you identify and change negative thought patterns.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.


Some antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms.

Conclusion: Coping with Panic Stress Disorder

Nocturnal and daytime panic attacks can have a severe impact on your life. If you think you may be experiencing sleep panic disorder symptoms, you must talk to a doctor or mental health professional. There are several treatment options available that can help lessen the frequency and severity of panic attacks.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Free Stress Management Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions