Mental Health

Waking Up Stressed? 4 Possible Reasons For Morning Anxiety

All of us have experienced anxiety and stress at some point but should we be paying more attention to the factor of timing? In a new study from Japan, researchers examined how evening stress may be different from morning stress.

The finding stated that the body only activates the sympathetic nervous system as a response to the former. Meanwhile, the levels of stress hormones are naturally high in the morning, thus playing an additional role with the latter.

While "morning anxiety" is not a medical term, many have reported feeling anxious and stressed after they wake up without any known trigger. According to experts, here are some of the possible causes.

1. Sleep

Research has shown how poor sleep can elevate stress hormone levels beyond normal levels, particularly affecting those who are anxious by nature.

"It’s during good sleep that brain chemicals related to mental health are replenished," said Katherine Glick, a licensed professional counselor. "So if you don’t get good sleep, you’re going to wake up anxious off the bat."

As the new study noted, these hormones can influence how we deal with feelings of stress in the morning. So make sure to follow these tips and see if it improves how you feel when you wake up.

2. Environment

Your bedroom is the first thing you see when you wake up - what does it look like? Experts say clutter can actually induce stress due to the excess stimuli, so make sure to keep the area as clean and tidy as possible. For the most, try exposing yourself to natural light instead of artificial indoor lighting.

Also, it is worth checking if you are subconsciously associating the sound of your alarm with something negative. Perhaps, this alarm sound woke you up on a series of bad days sometime in the past. In this case, try changing the sound of your alarm to eliminate the effect of classical conditioning.

3. Smoking

Many people reach for a pack of cigarettes to temporarily calm their nerves. However, nicotine and other harmful ingredients can actually worsen anxiety symptoms in the long run.

Withdrawal symptoms can take place while you are asleep. So it comes as no surprise if you wake up feeling restless or anxious after smoking the previous night.   

4. Diet

Take a look at what you eat and drink right before bedtime and right after you wake up. Try to moderate when and how much coffee you drink as caffeine withdrawal is tied to anxiety and irritability.

If you consume added sugar — for example, from your daily pack of flavored yogurt — you tend to experience a spike and crash in blood glucose levels. This sugar crash may be severe for some individuals, enough to trigger a fight-or-flight response in the body. Avoid hidden sources of sugar by limiting flavored products and include enough protein in your meals.