How to Manage Nighttime Anxiety

March 5, 2019 Jenny Capper

Nighttime anxiety affects many people. Learn five strategies for coping with nighttime anxiety at HealthyPlace.

My nighttime anxiety strikes right before going to bed. Many times, sleep is delayed or even prevented by my anxiety. I tend not to enjoy nighttime, because I know that I'm going to feel anxious as soon as my head hits the pillow.

When I'm laying in bed, there's nothing distracting me from the thoughts racing through my mind. Most of the time, my head is full of negative criticisms of myself.

I think about what I could have done better, telling myself that I'm a failure. As I overanalyze every possible mistake, I start to feel panicky. I wonder if I'll ever be able to do anything right. After getting all worked up, I forget what I was upset about in the first place. The only thing I can think about is how horrible I feel. 

Learning to Cope with Nighttime Anxiety

WIthout any distractions, anxious thoughts will be more noticeable to you, especially at night. However, bedtime should be an opportunity for you to reflect on your day, not critique it.

You want to prepare your mind for rest in the evening. Sleep is essential to maintain good mental health.

When you're sleep-deprived, it's hard to feel motivated to work on your mental health. Start making positive changes to your bedtime routine to combat nighttime anxiety. By finding ways to calm the mind, you can get a good night's rest and feel more motivated in the morning.

Strategies for Managing Anxiety at Nighttime


Practicing mindfulness can help you calm your mind to ease nighttime anxiety and fall asleep easier. It can be as simple as just paying attention to your breathing and observing the different sensations you're experiencing. One way to do this is to start at the top of your head and work your way down, analyzing how each part of your body feels. Guided meditations are great for bedtime, and there are many that specifically address nighttime anxiety.

Audiobook or Podcast

Choosing to listen to something relaxing can help take your mind off of your own thoughts. Audiobooks and podcasts are great tools for dealing with anxiety. You can listen to a book or podcast about coping with anxiety to target the problem head-on. You can also pick a novel or a low-key podcast that doesn't require you to stay alert and focused.


Journaling can do wonders for your anxiety and help calm your mind for sleeping. Writing your thoughts down, as they come to you, gets them out of your head and gives your mind some relief. To view the day in a positive way, gratitude journaling can give a fresh perspective. All you need to do is write down three things your thankful for before bed. Try and make them different every night. When you're feeling especially negative, it's eye-opening to reflect on these good things.

Make a To-Do List

You may be having anxiety at night because you're worried about the next day. If you take a few minutes to make a to-do list for yourself, it allows you to see what needs to be done and gives you a goal for the next day. Some people like to break down the bigger tasks into smaller steps so they know exactly what the next day will bring. When you feel more in control of what's going to happen, it can give you peace of mind and allow you to restfully sleep.


Sometimes, just changing your environment can make a difference in how you feel. One way to do this is with aromatherapy. Use a diffuser and essential oils to fill the air in your bedroom with relaxing scents. Some of my favorites are lavender, vanilla, and sandalwood. When I'm laying in bed and I start to inhale the aromas, it immediately calms me and makes me feel more comfortable and less anxious.

Find a Nighttime Anxiety Coping Strategy that Works for You

By using one or several of these strategies, you can help calm your mind and have a more restful and relaxing bedtime with much less nighttime anxiety. Some people benefit from distractions like audiobooks and podcasts. Other people like to address the problem immediately by journaling or making a to-do list. Using aromatherapy or meditation to create a peaceful environment works for others. 

You can find what works best for you by experimenting with these different techniques.

I would love to hear what strategies you use to cope with your anxiety at night. Let me know in the comments.

APA Reference
Capper, J. (2019, March 5). How to Manage Nighttime Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Jenny Capper

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