Morning Anxiety

Morning anxiety isn’t an official medical diagnosis or clinical term—however, many people—both with and without anxiety disorders—experience more anxiety in the morning.

Learn more about morning anxiety, including symptoms, causes, treatment options, and how to cope.

Woman feeling anxious in the morning

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Symptoms of Morning Anxiety

The symptoms of morning anxiety are the same as other signs of anxiety, except that they tend to happen soon after you wake up. 

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feelings of worry, fear, or impending doom
  • Racing or unwanted thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling suddenly hot or cold.

Causes of Morning Anxiety

Everyone feels anxious sometimes, and anxiety is sometimes a natural response to stress. For example, you might feel anxious just after waking up because of a new demanding job or an upcoming test at school. However, if your morning anxiety starts to feel out of your control, it may be a sign of a deeper problem.

There are several possible causes of morning anxiety, including:

  • Cortisol levels: Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone” due to its role in controlling the body’s fight-or-flight response to stress, is highest during the hour after you wake up. Known as the cortisol awakening response (CAR), this phenomenon is especially common among people who regularly experience anxiety.
  • Caffeine intake: Research suggests that heavy caffeine intake is associated with higher anxiety levels.
  • Poor sleep quality: Insomnia, disrupted sleep, and poor sleep quality may make you more anxious as soon as you wake up. Some studies have found that a lower sleep time each night is linked to increased morning anxiety levels. Moreover, people who sleep more deeply and restfully are at a lower risk for morning anxiety.
  • Sugar: What you eat for breakfast every morning—or even what you ate the night before—may impact your morning anxiety. Some studies have connected anxiety to higher sugar intake. Others studies have found a link between hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Anxiety disorders: Your morning anxiety may be a sign of an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD experience excessive worry and fear for at least six months. Other symptoms may include chronic fatigue, problems with focus, and restlessness.

What Is Cortisol?

One of the hormones made by the adrenal glands, cortisol, is part of a larger group of hormones known as glucocorticoids. Cortisol plays a role in controlling functions like stress response, blood pressure, metabolism, blood sugar, and inflammation.

How to Treat Morning Anxiety

There are several ways you can cope with morning anxiety through lifestyle changes and self-care habits, such as:

  • Lowering caffeine and alcohol intake: If you think your morning coffee may contribute to anxiety symptoms, it might be best to limit your caffeine intake. Reducing your alcohol intake may also help with your morning stress levels. 
  • Eating a healthy breakfast: Researchers have tied both high and low blood sugar to anxiety. Eating a nutritious diet may help to lower your anxiety, especially if you don’t usually have a nutrient-rich breakfast.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can help lower your anxiety.
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene: Getting a better night’s sleep may help to decrease your morning anxiety. Practice healthy sleep habits—such as going to bed at the same time every night, turning off electronics, and sleeping in a cool, dark room—to improve your sleep quality and boost your overall mood and energy levels. 
  • Exercising regularly: Try dancing, swimming, walking, biking, running, or other physical activities. Getting enough exercise has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. 
  • Managing stress levels: If you’re chronically stressed, you have a significantly higher chance of developing morning anxiety. Reduce your stress levels by spending quality time with family and friends, taking time out for things you enjoy, and reducing your workload if possible.

If your morning anxiety doesn’t go away or gets worse over time, you may have an anxiety disorder. Treatment for anxiety disorders typically involves psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works to reduce emotional distress by helping people develop more positive patterns of thinking and behavior. 

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help relieve your symptoms.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Talk to a healthcare provider if your morning anxiety symptoms:

  • Feel out of control
  • Get worse over time
  • Cause significant distress
  • Interfere with aspects of your everyday life, such as work, school, or relationships
  • Persist even when you’re not in a stressful situation

Your healthcare provider can rule out any possible underlying physical reasons for your anxiety symptoms and provide referrals to specialists if necessary.

Seek Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, dial 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect with a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.


While morning anxiety isn’t an officially recognized clinical diagnosis, several factors may lead someone to experience more anxiety symptoms in the morning. Causes of morning anxiety may include caffeine and sugar intake, insomnia, increased cortisol levels, or an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Treatment for morning anxiety may include anti-anxiety medications and/or psychotherapy. In addition, lifestyle changes—such as lowering your stress levels, lowering your sugar and caffeine intake, practicing healthy sleep habits, and exercising more often—can also help.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re waking up with anxiety on a regular basis, you’re not alone. Reach out to a healthcare provider to find support and effective treatment options for your morning anxiety symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is anxiety more common in the morning?

    You can experience symptoms of anxiety at any time of day, but some people are more likely to experience it in the morning. For example, your cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels may be higher in the morning, up to an hour after you wake up. Studies show that people who experience panic attacks are more likely to experience anxiety symptoms in the afternoon. However, their fear of an impending threat is highest in the early morning hours.

  • Is morning anxiety a sign of pregnancy?

    By itself, morning anxiety is not a sign or symptom of pregnancy. However, people are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety at any time during pregnancy and postpartum. Depression symptoms are also more common during and after pregnancy.

  • Can morning anxiety cause nausea?

    Anxiety is often associated with nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems. Studies have shown that people with various physical symptoms—including nausea, pain, and fatigue—are more likely to exhibit high levels of anxiety. Research suggests that people who are anxious and/or depressed have a higher chance of severe nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Laura Dorwart
Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with particular interests in mental health, pregnancy-related conditions, and disability rights. She has published work in VICE, SELF, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Week, HuffPost, BuzzFeed Reader, Catapult, Pacific Standard,, Insider,, TalkPoverty, and many other outlets.