The following treatment options can help a person manage nighttime anxiety:
Therapy focuses on addressing the source of anxiety and helping a person develop effective coping skills.
The American Psychological Association reports that therapy is often more effective than medication. This may be because therapy helps a person identify the cause of the problem and address it in a constructive way.
Therapy often works best alongside medication, as medication can offer some immediate relief, allowing a person to focus on the therapy.
Medication to manage anxiety
Anxiety medications can change the body’s physical response to anxiety, helping a person feel less anxious.
Antidepressants can take some time to begin working. A person should give the medication a chance before deciding whether it is effective.
Benzodiazepines bind to the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). This helps slow down activity in the brain, thereby helping a person feel less anxious. However, these drugs come with risks that a person should discuss with their doctor first.
Sleeping pills may help people fall asleep faster, thereby reducing nighttime restlessness. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that sleeping pills only reduce the length of time it takes to fall asleep by 8 to 20 minutes.
Sleeping pills can also be addictive, so it’s safest to try other interventions first. People who do use sleeping pills should:
- take the pills only when needed
- take the pills for the shortest possible time
- avoid combining the pills with any other drugs, including alcohol