Tossing and turning in bed, anxious thoughts fill your mind: you think about all the things you haven’t done, the demands of the next day, an encounter with a colleague. Inevitably, those feelings of not being good enough creep in.

Nighttime is one of the most common times for people to experience anxiety, therapists tell HuffPost UK. Quite simply, it happens more then because that’s when we actually stop. If we’re already feeling stressed or overwhelmed in our lives, we experience these feelings more intensely when we get in bed.

Psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Shelley Treacher explains: “We can be so busy in the day that we don’t have time to think about what worries us. Our systems may also already be in fight or flight mode, so it’s hard to slow down.”

Fearne Cotton’s recent admission that she’d been kept up by nighttime anxiety chimed with many of her fans. The broadcaster shared a photo on Instagram explaining in the caption how her anxiety crept up on her just as her head hit the pillow. And so began the downward spiral: she couldn’t drift off.

“Recently I have been sleeping so well, so last night was disappointing,” said Cotton, who has been vocal about her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks in the past. “But I’m not going to let one bad night set me back. If anything it’s a sign I have more important work to do. More self inventory, more self compassion, it’s a life’s work.”

Some of her followers noted that they, too, have nighttime anxiety, but their usual coping strategies don’t work in the evenings. Psychotherapist Kirsty Taylor suggests it’s because these strategies can be harder to access at night.

“Anxiety stores itself in the body and it needs to be moved up and out,” she says. “This can be harder to do at night, as can distraction techniques. It’s harder to rationalise things at night, too. You’re often lying in the dark thinking about things in a spiralling loop, feeling almost paralysed.”

So what can you do about it?


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