The Betterment Project

What May Cause You To Wake Up With Anxiety

Do you ever wake up with a sense of impending doom or a feeling of anxiousness before your feet even have a chance to hit the floor? While this feeling is unpleasant, you should also know that you’re not alone in experiencing this sensation. 


Being anxious about stressful situations is a normal part of everyday life for all humans. Still, when the worrying becomes excessive about normal, non-threatening tasks and situations familiar to your daily life, you may need to find ways to calm yourself. 


Given the state of the world for the last 18 months, waking up worried is just as common as going to sleep worried, but with a better understanding of your symptoms, there are ways to help yourself feel calm.


What Is Morning Anxiety?


Waking up
feeling anxious or stressed without a clear cause in the morning could be an indication that your worrying has gotten a bit excessive or is uncontrolled. If you’ve experienced this level of worry for at least six months and it is pervasive in your everyday life, it may be time to talk to a physician. 


Suppose you’ve noticed that these anxious feelings are a new development in your average morning. In that case, there may be steps you can take to help naturally calm yourself and let go of some of the worrying you are doing about your everyday life topics such as work, money, family, and health.



Symptoms of Morning Anxiety


If you are struggling with anxious thoughts or feeling worried when you wake up in the morning, you may notice other symptoms that accompany those feelings, such as: 


  • Restlessness or an “on edge” feeling
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling fatigued even after sleep
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Brain fog or trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of worry or nervousness that are difficult to control

Identifying the symptoms you’re experiencing may be easy, but what causes your anxious feelings when you wake up?


Causes of Morning Anxiety


A lot of factors can contribute to waking up feeling anxious. Like most feelings of anxiousness, your body is responding and reacting to excessive stress, whether those stressors are real or simply perceived. Therefore, there are several potential causes of your morning anxiety.


Our adrenal glands produce hormones to help our bodies with a wide variety of essential functions. One such hormone, cortisol, is also known as the “stress hormone.” This is because cortisol is released into our bodies due to a sense of danger or stress. 


People with a consistent and increased level of daily stress in their lives have been found to experience their highest level of cortisol within the first hour of being awake. This is known as the cortisol awakening response. It may explain why some people experience increased feelings of anxiousness.


In computer science, there is a concept that your input directly begets your output. A common phrase is “garbage in; garbage out,” but this is true of your input, good or bad. You get back what you put in. Our bodies, as organic machines, operate on a similar principle. So, sometimes what we eat or drink in the morning could directly impact our feelings of anxiousness.


Some common triggers of anxiety-like symptoms are low blood sugar levels and the intake of caffeine and sugar. When you wake up, your blood sugar levels are going to be low. That’s why we have breakfast. It is quite literally a break from the fast we experience during sleep. Additionally, many of us reach for a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or tea, within minutes of waking up.


Lastly, if you go to bed with anxious thoughts or experience sleep interruptions due to anxious thoughts, you can likely greet the day with the same feelings of anxiousness that you ended the previous day with.


What Can You Do About Morning Anxiety?

If your morning anxiety is affecting your daily life, you may want to consider seeking medical attention from your physician, but there are also lifestyle changes you can make on your own to help improve this onslaught of anxiousness. 



Check Your Sleep Schedule


It’s recommended that adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you have been struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, you might not be getting enough sleep at night. This can be a contributing factor to waking up feeling anxious.


Consider setting a sleep schedule that allows for about two hours of sleep for every hour you were awake, and stay consistent with your sleep schedule to help develop your circadian rhythms into a smoother, clock-like cycle. 


If you struggle to go to bed at night, you may want to consider a natural supplement like Complete Calm Sleep Gummies may help you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night to help you wake up feeling refreshed instead of anxious. 



Remember, the sleep you get tonight can directly affect how you feel in the morning when you wake up. Set yourself up for a good morning by prioritizing restful sleep. Some important steps to ensuring your space will give you a restful night’s sleep are:


  • Keep it dark
  • Keep it cool
  • Keep it quiet
  • Keep it comfortable
  • Keep it clean

Your sleep space can set the tone for how you will wake up, so go to bed in the same way you would want to wake up.


Check Your Diet

 

If your blood sugar levels are too low in the morning when you wake up and are causing you to feel anxious, you may want to consider adding a smart snack before bed. A high-protein, low-fat snack before bed can help keep your blood sugar levels stable while sleeping. 


Some good late-night snack choices to help you wake up feeling less anxious if low blood sugar is your culprit include:


  • A handful of nuts
  • A hardboiled egg
  • Low-fat cheese with whole wheat crackers
  • Your favorite veggies with hummus
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Sliced apples with peanut butter

If caffeine and sugar are causing your morning anxiousness, consider putting off your initial caffeinated beverage and reaching for a glass of water and a healthy breakfast first instead. 


Caffeine, along with alcohol, could be causing sleep disruptions at night, so that’s another area to consider to help reduce your morning restlessness and tense feelings. 


You might also consider a daily supplement such as Complete Calm De-stress Gummies that may help naturally support your mood. With key ingredients, like ginseng and extracts like Saffron, Rhodiola, Lion’s Mane, and Lemon balm, that you might not otherwise find in your diet. 


Check Your Stress Levels


Your daily stress levels can contribute to high cortisol levels when you first wake up and make you feel more anxious in the morning. Managing your stress throughout the day could help alleviate the morning symptoms that have been troubling you.


Consider your stressors. Identify what you can change and work to reduce that stress. Maybe you need to say “no” to some obligations. Identify the stress you can’t change and work on accepting it to give yourself a sense of peacefulness. 


If your stress is beyond your control, you might consider finding other ways to support yourself as you manage your stress. Some tips to consider:


  • Daily exercise for at least 20 minutes
  • Getting some natural sunlight for at least 10 to 20 minutes
  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Gentle yoga
  • Establishing a routine

Taking steps to make your life healthier for yourself may feel like a daunting task when you’re already stressed, but you have to take care of yourself before you can effectively take care of anything else. 


If you struggle to calm down in the morning, you may want to consider a supplement when you wake up like Complete Calm De-stress Gummies that may help soothe the discomfort of feeling anxious. The terpene blend is formulated to help quiet your mind and support mood-balancing with an almost immediate calming sensation.


Summary


Waking up with feelings of anxiousness is not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean you are expected to just deal with it. There are steps you can take to combat morning anxiety and move forward with your day feeling calmer.


Your sleep schedule, diet, and stress management can all contribute to controlling your feelings of anxiousness. Prioritizing these aspects of your life can help you throughout the day, but it can also help you wake up less often feeling a sense of impending doom or like you're racing on the inside. 



Sources: 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) | helpguide.org 

Can COVID-19 Cause Brain Fog? | hackensackmeridianhealth.org

Daily Life Stress and the Cortisol Awakening Response: Testing the Anticipation Hypothesis | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 


Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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