The Reason You Feel Anxious When You Wake Up

If you feel anxious when you wake up in the morning, you may have morning anxiety. Although it's not an official medical diagnosis, morning anxiety is characterized by waking up with feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety (via Healthline). Feeling anxious in the morning is common for people with anxiety disorders, but it can also be caused by excessive stress, low blood sugar, caffeine, or sugar. You also have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the morning, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety when you wake up.

"The effect of higher cortisol further exacerbates physiological symptoms of anxiety such as increased adrenaline flow, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure," Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist, told Insider. "For someone with anxiety, when cortisol levels are higher in the morning, the anxiety is greater and interferes with the person's ability to think calmly and plan for the day ahead." Similar to those of generalized anxiety disorder, common symptoms of morning anxiety include fatigue, irritability, feeling restless, difficulty concentrating and controlling nervousness, tense muscles, and an increased heart rate.

How to reduce morning anxiety

If you're experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety when you wake up, there are a few strategies you can use to try to reduce your morning anxiety. For one thing, it's important to get a good night's sleep (via Insider.) Not getting enough sleep can cause you to feel nervous or anxious when you wake up in the morning. Sleeping for at least 7 to 9 hours every night can help improve your state of mind when you wake up. If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, you can do something relaxing or put away your electronic devices an hour before bed.

You can also try exercising in the morning. Yoga, tai chi, and going for a walk are all mindful activities that can help regulate your central nervous system and decrease anxiety. Another way to reduce morning anxiety is to practice relaxation techniques. Meditating and limiting your screen time and social media use can help keep you calm in the morning and improve your overall health and well-being.

If you're feeling anxious all day, however, you may want to make an appointment with a therapist. Going to therapy can teach you how to cope with your anxiety. "Psychotherapy is very helpful to reframe thoughts about your day and about the stress," Natalie Wallace, a behavioral therapy clinician at Behavioral Associates in New York, told Women's Health. "You're trying to create a routine that is more sustainable and manageable."