I get night anxiety attacks. Had them for years. Get to sleep without a problem, usually around 11:00 PM, just nod right off. But on too many early mornings just about 3:00 AM I suddenly wake up, heart pounding, hands shaking, my pulse throbbing in my neck, covered in sweat, and feeling like I've been running from the devil himself. I toddle downstairs to my office, plunk down in front of the computer, and work. It's the only thing that seems to calm me down. Pointless mindless work (I have my share to do on a regular basis...part of my business), with intermittent pointless web surfing, until I'm exhausted. Some days it takes an hour, some days I don't get back in bed until 6:00 AM to catch one more precious hour of sleep. It got pretty bad early last year in the months after my mom died, not due to grief, but from the endless onslaught of pressure and responsibility that was shoveled onto my shoulders afterward. It's getting better, the past couple of months it only seemed to happen to me about once a week, but I had one last night, and it was a doozy. Woke up thinking I was having a full bore heart attack. I've been to Kaiser a couple of times for check-ups and discussed it with my doctor. He suggested it might be low level PTSD from the nasty experience of watching my mom die, and recommended (actually prescribed) some time with a social worker. I declined. I didn't have a clue what I would have talked about. Later he offered to prescribe "a little something" to help me sleep. Nope. I want to understand and address the problem on a conscious level, not mask it with medication. So far, no help. It's a puzzle. I have enormous empathy for people who suffer chronic anxiety disorders. You're not alone...
We don't stop playing because we grow old.
We grow old because we stop playing.
-- George Bernard Shaw