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Morning Anxiety 101: Symptoms and Causes

I am not a morning person. If you are reading this, chances are, you aren’t one either. Sometimes, I have been woken up in the early hours to instant panic. There isn’t a reason for the fear but as soon as my eyelids open I am absolutely terrified. Its a horrible feeling. When my day begins this way one of two things are bound to happen.

Either I accept the anxiety and try to ignore it, or I feel sorry for myself, pout, and sometimes cry, and it consumes and ruins my entire day.

My anxiety is always worse in the mornings. Always. Sometimes I find myself dreading to go to sleep at night for fear of what the morning will bring. I have learned not to plan important events or parties until the afternoon or evenings because I know I will be in a better mood at that time.

Symptoms of Morning Anxiety

My anxiety is always worse in the mornings. Learn how cortisol, low blood sugar, and your environment can cause mornings to be filled with anxiety.Most people experience several of the following symptoms when feeling anxious:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Nervousness, sense of terror, of impending doom or death
  • Feeling sweaty or having chills
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Trembling
  • Mental confusion

Causes for Morning Anxiety

Cortisol- the Stress Hormone

When we are feeling stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the morning and lowest at night.  Our bodies will also produce cortisol when we are feeling anxious to help with the “fight or flight” response.

It becomes a vicious cycle. We wake up feeling anxious because of the stored up cortisol throughout the night, which makes us feel anxious, so our bodies continue to pump out cortisol, which creates more anxiety, which produces more cortisol, which causes us to feel more anxious, etc.

Low Blood Sugar

Deanne Repich, founder of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress, Inc. says,

“Another reason why symptoms can be worse in the morning is because your blood sugar is low when you first wake up. You have gone all night without food. It’s important to maintain a constant blood sugar level because the brain uses sugar, also known as glucose, as its fuel. If blood sugar levels are too low or drop too fast, then the brain starts running out of fuel.”

Running out of fuel causes the brain to trigger the “fight or flight” response which we just learned will send cortisol through our bodies to help fight or flee the perceived threat (which in this case is low fuel).

Environmental Aggravations

Although these may not be the root of your morning anxiety, your bedroom surroundings can aggravate an already bad situation. Imagine sleeping in a dark room, in an uncomfortable bed and then suddenly a noisy, loud alarm clock scares you into reality. Soon harsh bright lights and the chill of getting out of bed welcome you to your worst day ever (Infuse Positive Energy into Your Home).

There are simple things we can do to help eliminate morning anxiety. Read on for Morning Anxiety 101: 5 Useful Tips.

118 thoughts on “Morning Anxiety 101: Symptoms and Causes”

  1. I have a lot of anxiety when I waken first thing. Sleep a few hours. Nerves, stress, loneliness & a complete fear factor, yet nothing is happening. Get up ASAP. Lying in bed only makes it worse. Put the radio or tv on. Try to distract your mind. Breath in through your nose for 10 seconds HOLD Breath slowly out through your Mouth. DO THIS 10 Times IN A ROW. SLOW IN…. SLOW OUT. This is only one way or Go for a walk with a friend. Plz try & Learn that breathing technique. Remember FEAR IS ONLY FEAR THOUGHT’S & CANT HURT YOU PHYSICALLY. Prayers as well. GOD BLESS.

  2. I just found this site and I see there are others having the same issues I’m having.. I have all kinds of stomach issues and since my break up of a very intense relationship with a narcissist, I have been suffering. I wake up in the morning short of breath, stomach pain and uncontrollable anxiety and then complete depression.. Im trying therapy, yoga, exercise and I am at my end.. don’t know what to do

    1. Hi Adele I am going through the same symptoms & it’s driving me crazy. I’m on Ativan low dose & cymbalta. Tried doing yoga meditation breathing exercise etc . It’s a horrible feeling I know. plus I always feel like I’m the only person that feels this way?? Are you on any mess for the anxiety??

    2. Sorry to hear what you going through Adele. But I can relate since I started having episodes in a similar fashion after I broke up a very intense (and draining) relationship with a person who probably had BPD and maybe some Narcissist disorder too.

      I work out late evening and also watch/read something in bed before I fall asleep. Usually am feeling like a million bucks when I fall asleep.

      However, despite all this I wake up with that same sinking feeling every morning the moment my eyes open. It’s a horrible sense of foreboding that just seems to come from nowhere.

      So I spend my entire day overcoming fighting this feeling (through work, workouts etc.) only to find that the whole thing gets reset again every morning.

      It’s been going on for 3-4 years now and am wondering what I could be doing wrong to have invited this upon me.

      I don’t do any substance abuse. Neither do I smoke/drink or take caffeine/energy drinks.

      Maybe God has a plan….

  3. Go into it. The fear. This article is wrong. Neither accept it or ignore it. Rather, acknowledge it, honor it, and ask,’why are you here?’. The “anxiety”, the feeling. Relate to it. Be curious. Do not accept it as a victim; Do not ignore it, like a coward. Be courageous. You are being asked to explore something unconscious. A part of you is speaking, and perhaps rather loudly! It will continue until you process it and relate too it. Drugs will only freeze your state and work temporarily. Try a different way. If you do not know how to relate with this part of you in an active and participatory way, seek therapy. Learn tools, techniques, and skills. There is actually a gem inside this feeling-senation you are labeling as “bad” and “awful”. What is it? Arent you curious!? I would be sooo interested to know what is stirring me up so intensely! Maybe you are trying to heal something and your body is telling you its time. Maybe the world is calling you to a greater mission and your body is trying to shake up you to make a change. Maybe you are asked to pay attention to the dream you just had or to be extra vigilant throughout the day. Maybe something is coming you would miss otherwise. Growth, especially spiritually growth, is not always a “pleasurable” experience. Awakening, much like childbirth, is full of contractions and pain. I suggust to stop being your own worst enemy. Stop labeling anything thats not pleasurable as “a problem”. It doesnt always feel good. You arent always supposed to be happy and content. There is a whole range if sensations that the human body experiences. Its simply an energetic experience that serves as a gift and a message to guide to to deeper and wider truth. Time to grow up and wake up. You are not a victim. Life isnt happening TO you; Its happening THROUGH you. If you haven’t learned to work with the energy following through you, then now is the time.

  4. This sounds like me. Hard for me lots of times to relax at night but super hard to wake up in the morning. When I wake up, not refreshed and my muscles feel this low-grade stress throughout it like if I worked out. After about 5 hours of sleep, I keep waking up every hour too. Sounds like cortisol to me. It gets better if I eat a lot of carbs the night before but I don’t wanna be doing that all the time ya know

  5. What can I take for morning anxiety? Breathing, trying to concentrate on positive thoughts are not working. I am desperate. All I want to do is stay in bed and isolate myself.

    1. Try working out Kathleen. I have been going through the same challenge. Have almost cut off contact with everyone. But I figured out that an intense workout, like lifting weights seems to help. It works for me to keep the morning triggered anxiety to a manageable level.

      Breathing, meditation hasn’t really worked since I give up too soon because of the restlessness.

      1. Please be careful of working out or intense exercise. If the adrenals are already taxed, this can make things worse.
        I’m saying this for others. It sounds like it’s working for you.

    2. I take Nausea pills. I feel this every morning and I feel like throwing up. It’s a horrible feeling. And it won’t go away. I hope you get better Bless you.

  6. How is everyone doing? My anxiety / depression turned on like a switch. First it was a few instances and then for the last 45 days it’s been very frequent. I wonder how much the stress or memories from the first instances kick it on full time. It’s consuming because you know there is a problem and you are always thinking about it and how to fix it. I was prescribed xanax from my Gp and I take .5mg in the morning and .5 before bed. It seems to really help, but it is for short term use. Being tired seems to make things worse, I have also cut all caffeine out and added a bunch of vitamins. It seems a lot of people here had relationship or stress triggers. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand.

  7. Hello: I have been suffering for about a year now. I have been reading a lot about anxiety and the stomach. I’m very controlled by my stomach. My anxiety lies within my stomach. I wake up without any anxious thoughts, just the stomach filled anxiety. Which then turns into mind anxiety. My GI doc put me on some probiotics on Wednesday and it is now worse than ever. I’m being told it is a side affect that will happen for a few weeks. After struggling with issues for over a year and visiting every doctor possible, I am not sure I can last 2 weeks. I’ve given up sugar, corn, gluten, a lot of dairy, alcohol. all grains. I get relief for a while and then i get a flair. I just was diagnosed with IBS, but wonder if there is still something else. For people who aren’t aware of this, IBS can cause anxiety, depression and a whole host of other problems. So can sibo. I just want to feel better. I stopped taking supplements because they can aggravate iBS because they are hard on the stomach.

    1. Mind and body are one, specially stomach which is filled with nerves similar to those in the brain. I too suffer from stomach knot/anxiety in the mornings. I wake up and after a couple minutes it starts to creep in, it’s very uncomfortable. After dealing with it for a couple years I can tell you two things. First, it’s an oportunuity to train your mind. When anxiety strikes is the best momento to overcome it by breathing and reafirming positive toughts, sending love to your emotional “scar” which is just that; a scar. Second try to integrate to yourself, this feeling is a part of you, itçs being generated by your mind and it wants to be listened. This does not mean it has to win control over all of your other parts. But try to be kind with it and see it as an old war wound. When your mind doesn’t need it anymore it will go away. And believe me, recently I’ve had mornings when it’s not there at all. Just be patient and when it comes work with it, since otherwise, you’re working against yourself. Morning anxiety is just the same as any other day/night anxiety. Good Vibes, You’re OK.

      1. You are experiencing worsened symptoms since starting probiotics because it is helping to detox and regulate your gut. Gut health and mind are absolutely connected. I am glad to see all tge bad foods you have eliminated so far you are definitely on the right track! Try drinking some bone broth twice a day to help heal your gut. I have hope your anxiety will subside. Also maybe try yoga or exercise to burn off some of that stress.

      2. Good Vibes? You’re ok? Be patient? I’ve suffered with this anxiety and depression for 20 years now. Panic attacks, derealization and so very many other feelings that go right along with it. I have PTSD. Before you go advising ppl to do stupid things like “BE PATIENT” maybe you should consider that all levels of anxiety ARE NOT the same and not everyone just has “OLD WAR WOUNDS.” Are you aware some of us have it so debilitating that we don’t want to leave the house? Get informed before you go telling ppl Awww it’s ok.

        1. Being negative doesn’t help here or anywhere. When ppl leave comments here, it’s bc they want to help or relate. No one knows what the other has experienced in their life or how much they know. It has been proven that a good attitude can help cure any illness.

      3. Good advice. I’m doing the same thing and although training your mind can be a challenge, it is worth it. Rocky is right, we are OK.

  8. I woke up about half an hour ago from a short dreamless sleep with a feeling hard to describe, I was extremely confused and was panicking for no apparent reason, but it felt different than my normal panic attacks, I still can’t quite put my finger on it. This feeling shifted to increasing fear and nausea, which I am still experiencing, I’m currently hiding beneath my covers and I have no idea why, I am terrified and can hardly move for once again, no reason, every sound startles me, it feels like something nightmarish is going to rear its ugly head to me, even though I don’t believe in such matter. I’m so bloody confused! I’m sweating like a madman and hearing noises that aren’t there, what am I experiencing? I tried google it but couldn’t find anyone experiencing this particular feeling! My apologies for my rubbish grammar, I still feel sick and numb

    1. I feel you 100%. I am currently at my cousins house, it’s 6:14 am, and I’m hiding in their bathroom. I went to bed at about 3:00, and didn’t experience and dreams or anything. When I woke though, I was completely terrified to the point that I was bawling my eyes out. My entire body was sticky with sweat considering I was hiding under the covers and I had on a hoodie along with sleeping pants. And I honestly don’t know what to do now, there’s no way I’m going to be able to go to sleep at this point. I laid there for a good hour before I got the courage to move from my position of layijg flat on my back with both hands covering my entire face- then I had to dig for my phone under the piles of covers. I don’t know what to do.

      1. I can really sympathize with both of you! I cannot figure out WHY I feel SO horrible after a refreshing 7 to 8 hours a night of sleep!! As soon as I MOVE my body to any degree, a rush of sickening symptoms flood my body…stiff all over, buzzing all over, shortness of breath, BURNING SKIN, burning inside my body, and a general sense of being sick!! Every day now is like this. Ithe lasts for HOURS!! I cannot physically go anywhere, talk to anyone. I suffer so bad I just cry my eyes out!!! I’m going to see a doctor just to have myself checked out. But, if they find “nothing” (again), then the answer is anxiety. But, why? I have NOTHING happening around me!! Cause is just simply UNKNOWN!! Hope you are all doing better!! I’ll post again after I’m checked out by doctor! ♡♡♡♡

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