Jolted awake by anxiety at moment of falling asleep

Q:  I have a recurring problem where I am suddenly awakened just at the moment I am falling asleep.  This may happen several times a night.  I feel this terrible pounding in my chest, my heart races, and  I am suddenly terrified for no reason.  What is wrong with me?

A:  If it’s any comfort, know that you are not alone in experiencing this.  It’s surprisingly common among those with sleeping problems.

These sudden awakenings are one of insomnia’s worst aspects.  You can be dead tired, desperate for sleep.  Then, once you begin to actually fall asleep, you are jolted awake at the last second by what seems to a shot of adrenaline coursing through your body.  A pounding heart, a feeling of dread, and night sweats may then ensue.  Something similar to this happens to many insomniacs on a regular basis.

What commonly causes this is hyperarousal.  This typically results from unrelenting stress and/or anxiety experienced nonstop throughout the day, and often well into the night.  Excessive levels of stress and anxiety can lead to the body’s over-production of cortisol — the stress hormone — among other stimulating hormones, that make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

See your doctor to either treat or rule out any underlying medical issues or a possible anxiety disorder.  These conditions are treatable.  But don’t be surprised if you have no true underlying medical or psychiatric issues.  Most with insomnia don’t.

In that case you can look to nonmedical root sources as the culprit, such as normal but excessive levels of anxiety and stress. There are effective nondrug ways to treat this, permanently.

If you have anxiety-caused insomnia, you can learn how to turn off the anxiety-producing negative thought patterns.  By doing so, cortisol levels come down — and better sleep returns.

Explore posts in the same categories: anxiety, Insomnia, sleep

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One Comment on “Jolted awake by anxiety at moment of falling asleep”


  1. […] likely that your hours and hours of frustration tossing and turning in bed — and those jolts awake just at the moment of falling asleep are the worst, aren’t they — has led to a […]


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