Why Do We Wake Up Afraid In The Middle Of The Night?

by | Feb 26, 2019

I sat up in bed, sweating. My heart pounding like I was running away from something chasing me, and it was gaining! Crazy thoughts flooded my head.

They were all of the anxious concerns surrounding a change I was thinking of making. Wild reasons the change wasn’t going to work out. I thought about difficulties in getting ready, timing, resources that would be either unattainable or unavailable, and too many others to list.

There was absolutely no way I was going to slip back to sleep easily. Drat! It was a wonderfully sound sleep I had jerked myself from. Why?

This wasn’t the first time this happened to me. In fact, when we were in the depths of the lawsuit with our software company, it was a pretty regular occurrence.

This time, I decided to stay awake and listen to myself.

What was I thinking? Where were these thoughts coming from? They weren’t new thoughts, so why were they showing up now? Why were they powerful enough to wake me from such a peaceful sleep?

My limiting beliefs were facing me right there in the middle of the night!


After a while, I finally realized I had come upon a whole cache of limiting beliefs. The things you can’t see in the light of day, but operate like white noise in the background to keep you from being your best self.

For several months I had been trying to reach these beliefs with limited success. Slowly it dawned on me I could start to look at them right then without the judgments my daytime self would systematically overlay with some silly rationale.

I was able to write down some of the thoughts as they drifted by and the feelings associated with them. It was similar to journaling I had done several years earlier. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep again.

I awoke the next morning rested and felt like some of the weight from the night before had been released. On the early morning walk I take with the dog each day, I decided to pay attention to my feelings around some of the same limiting thoughts from the night before. Amazingly, they were there, but so much less intense.

I’m sure the quiet light of the early morning was part of the soothing effect, but it has been several days since it happened and the same thoughts don’t seem to carry the same emotional charge they did that night.

Waking up in the middle of the night allows us to listen more directly to our thoughts and beliefs without the veneer of our ego coloring our interpretation.


Taking the time to observe my thoughts dispassionately, like a fly on the wall, has become a very powerful tool because it gives me a peek into my innermost thoughts and beliefs.

It can be a real opportunity for you to listen and learn more about yourself. If you find yourself suddenly startled and awake, consider it a gift. A present from yourself trying to help you understand more about your concerns or fears.

If you can, get up and do something like writing or recording your thoughts, just for yourself. When you look at it the next day and spend some time thinking about it, you can begin to understand your concerns.

The worries or fears you had in the middle of the night eventually begin to lose their potency in the light of day.

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