Panic attacks can occur at any time of the day or night and can even awaken you from sleep.  However, nighttime (nocturnal) panic attacks are less common than daytime panic attacks.

Nocturnal panic attacks are characterized by an abrupt waking from sleep in a state of panic with no obvious trigger.  During a panic attack, you may experience sweating, rapid heart rate, trembling, shortness of breath and hyperventilating, flushing or chills, and a sense of impending doom.  These signs and symptoms often mimic those of a heart attack or other serious medical condition.  Although nocturnal panic attacks usually last less than 10 minutes, it may take much longer to calm down after such an episode.

Researchers aren’t sure what causes panic attacks.  Heredity, stress, and certain biochemical factors may play a role. Your chance of having panic attacks increases if you have a close family member who has had them.

Most people who have panic attacks at night also have them during the day.  Between 44 percent and 71 percent of people with panic disorder have had at least one episode of nocturnal panic.

It is important to have a complete physical examination to determine whether a medical condition other than panic attacks is the cause of your signs and symptoms.  This may include a sleep assessment to rule out an underlying sleep disorder.

Although nocturnal panic attacks can be extremely disconcerting, the good news is that there is effective treatment — including cognitive behavior therapy and anti-anxiety medications — that can alleviate or eliminate these episodes for most people.

Source of information:


8 thoughts on “NOCTURNAL PANIC ATTACKS: The Cause?

  1. Tessa says:

    When I have a nocturnal panic attack, every light in the room goes on, I don’t leave my room because I am sure there is nothing outside the door and I try to find something to take my mind off of it. I take 4mg of clonazepam, but you wouldn’t know, but the strength of my panic attacks both day and night.


  2. DaisyWillows says:

    I’ve had what I identify with what is called ‘Nocturnal panic attacks’ though thankfully I haven’t had on for a long time. They are terrifying. Paralysing and sometimes I have even hallucinated or heard things. I take medication for anxiety and have done for many years. More awareness is needed about what a true panic attack is. My gran has Vascular Dementia and because of her blood pressure going up when she had panic attacks -it left scarring on her brain and in two years she has gone from a glamorous, witty and mobile person to someone. – I have no description for it. It breaks my heart to see who she has become now. I wish I knew what she is thinking. She babbles and gets frustrated -she can’t walk. Panic attacks can do more harm than what I ever thought.


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