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Anxious Thoughts and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Kelly Bos


How does it happen? The sudden switch from peacefully sound asleep to wide awake... and worried. Maybe a child called out for water or the dog wanted to be let out and your wander back to bed got you thinking about a conflict at work or sixteen time sensitive errands. You binged watched Game of Thrones, dreamed you finally ruled Dragonstone and you awoke ruminating/obsessing about a betrayal in your own life. Or maybe it was one of those times when you simply awoke, seemingly out of nowhere, sweaty and anxious because that subconscious went bump in the night.

Now worrying in the daytime is usually time sucking, unhealthy and provides little help to the actual problem, but night worrying is anxiety on speed with so much less reason is available to you. Cognitive distortions at their most distorted.

Many times when I have had this night anxiety I finally get back to sleep and awake the next morning only to discover that what was plaguing me at 2 am, is not even an actual worry for me. I don't really care and/or see things much more clearly in the light of day. This is that 20/20 you are unable to grasp when you are tired and pumped with worry adrenaline. 

The night is full of terrors -Melisandre, Game of Thrones

But does it have to be? There are things you can do. The sword in the darkness? Reality!

1. First ask yourself, is this a problem?

The answer might be no. If you can recognize it IS a non issue and just your brain is searching for something to worry about then nighty night you are good to call time of death on that worry. Challenge it, stay in the moment of being in bed with your only task and focus to be on going back to sleep. Try the 5-5-5 method to get present. 

2. If it is a problem, ask yourself what can I do about it? Chances are there is nothing you can do about it at 2 am. Nothing. Nightwatch called off!

3. If it is a problem that has a solution, and you feel there is something you can do, write down the solution. I keep a pen and paper right beside my bed for moments just like these. I can write down the ideas around addressing that misunderstanding with my partner; I can jot a note to pick up the always forgotten dry cleaning. Whatever I am afraid I will forget is now taken care of.You see once it is written down, you can let it out of your head and end the swirling repetition. Also keep in mind that another billion circles in the head is not likely to produce too many more angles, ideas or cautionary tales for you, just write it down and be done. Worry rarely produces new amazing results that you had never thought of.


These simple tips should keep those cognitively distorted “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night” at bay.