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Bed Anxiety--fallout from nocturnal panic attacks

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Six years ago--and I cannot believe it has been this long, and I'm still have this problem: I started having nocturnal panic attacks.  Long story short: went through 8 months of being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, when, in fact, even though I probably have GAD, the main thing was that I had never been diagnosed with Bipolar and didn't know I had it until my life (literally) was saved by about the fifth doctor I had seen.  By that time, I had been put on seven different SSRI's.  


For those of you who don't know, an SSRI alone can send someone with Bi-polar into hellish mixed states and even suicide.  So, in short, the panic attacks worsened, and I literally didn't sleep more than 3 hours a night (if that) for a really long time.


Over time, as the correct medication and lots of therapy helped, lots of things got better.  One thing remaining, though, is that I still cannot relax at all when I get into bed--it doesn't matter if I was sleeping fine on the couch.  It doesn't matter if I think I'm tired or not.  My muscles tense up and my mind starts racing and if I don't read until the medicine literally takes me under, I can forget about.  I already have a C-PAP; I have been through many trainings/suggestions with counselors and other well-meaning people such as "go to bed at the same time each night"; "don't drink caffeine after noon", "don't use your bed for anything but sleep or sex", "listen to cd's that will help with the problem", etc...


I have changed comforters; I have even moved 1400 miles away into a great new house.  No better...  My question is: do any of you have a fear that you are going to get afraid when you go to bed, and is there any way that you have acclimated yourself?


This is really ridiculous after this many years; I think that part of the problem is that the doctor who finally diagnosed me (with Bi-polar I, PTSD, and GAD) told me that the only thing that could possibly be a "deal-breaker"--I think in terms of a relapse--was not sleeping.


Any personal experience that anybody has on this topic is appreciated.  Thank you.  

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Well, I have experience with the nighttime panic attacks but not all the other stuff so I don't know how helpful I will be....

My nighttime/sleep panic attacks happen even when I nap during the day, so I don't have a set thing--like nighttime or anxiety that sets them off--they just kinda happen ...maybe subconscious anxiety? I dunno... But what I try to do is what you've said--keep my room for sleeping, make it an oasis of comfort, dark and quiet so I'm not disturbed. I have a white noise machine that I love and can't life without now too.


Still, I get episodes where I wake up 'crazy'....confused, scared, sick...Some of my anxiety is the fear of throwing up/being sick...So when I wake up sick for whateve reason, I'm even more panicked because I'm having anxiety over the possibility of throwing up.  I'm thinking maybe part of your sleep problem is having a left-over trauma from the SSRI's...and it kinda shows up when you're sleeping and 'vulnerable.'  Which would probably be why you don't want to sleep--so that you aren't anxious, panicked, etc. 


For me a nighttime dose of Xanax has helped *alot*. I used to get nocturnal panic attacks alot--like almost every night...and by taking a dose at bedtime, I have episodes much less frequently and they're less severe when they do happen... I had an episode a couple weeks ago where I woke up sick as death and hysterical...I called H at work and wanted him to come home--I was ready to call the ambulance too...But after getting dressed, driving around the block a couple of times (too scared/embarassed to go to the hospital), I went back home, took a pill and tried going back to bed. 


Definitely talk with your doctor about getting some kind of med to help you sleep--I'd avoid Ambien though--too many reports of bad stuff...I took it myself and had a psychotic episode by the 3rd night. :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

I used to have nocturnal panic attacks a while back. It happened at a time when I was extra anxious and I couldn't shut down my mind. I would anticipate the panic at night and of course it always came. I didn't like being alone with my thoughts so I sang until my mind and heartbeat quieted down.


I don't know how helpful this is going to be for you but I always sing the same song, the one from Wizard of Oz, Somewhere Over the Rainbow and I would sing it as slow as possible, over and over again. I would panic but I would just keep singing until I fell asleep.

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It's actually happening to me right now. It's the worst when I know I've got to wake up to any kind of obligation I've been dreading. In this case, it's a crucial job interview in the morning that pretty much mine and my family's lives tremendously depend on. But even if it wasn't something so drastic, like having to get up for an early work shift the next morning, I'd still stress falling asleep and having to wake to an alarm. Sleep meds of any kind do not help me. I will literally stress out about when the med is supposed to kick in to the point where it doesn't kick in at all. There's been nothing I've ever taken, prescribed, OTC or otherwise (i.e. illegal, LOL) that has knocked me out good and proper besides being piss poor drunk. It's horrible.


I think I might have some kind of sleep apnea, restless legs or the likes that just couples with my anxiety and makes sleep that much harder. I have woken up on several occasions unable to breathe through my nose, which has sent me into huge panic. The last time it happened, I had to keep getting up and walking around the house talking to myself reassuringly for a couple of hours before I could finally lay back down, then I freaked out about laying down because for some reason or another, I was scared to.

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