“Morning anxiety” isn’t an official medical condition, but a casual shorthand for waking up with feelings of stress. It’s quite common: 40 million Americans over the age of 18 regularly battle generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and their worries are often at their worst in the morning when the stress hormone cortisol is at its highest. Ever gone to bed anxious the night before a presentation or flight and woken up earlier than intended? That’s due to an influx of cortisol, which can often beat your alarm.
Blood sugar levels are also quite low when you wake up, which only heightens anxiety. There are a number of techniques you can deploy to combat this cycle, and feel more prepared and equipped for the day. That includes getting to sleep earlier, practicing better sleep hygiene (that means keeping screens away from bed, not just washing your sheets), exercising after you wake up, challenging thoughts that only function to bring you down, and trying deep-breathing exercises. Morning anxiety doesn’t feel great — it’s like the Sunday Scaries, but without a night sleep’s buffer — and making an effort to change the narrative is well worth your time.