Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Daniel W. Capron

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Joye C. Anestis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Michael D. Anestis

Committee Member 3 School



Nocturnal panic involves experiencing panic attacks out of a sleeping state without obvious causes such as nightmares or loud noises. Roughly half of patients with panic disorder will experience nocturnal panic in addition to panic attacks while awake, or daytime panic. Like daytime panic, nocturnal panic also occurs in other disorders such as PTSD. The Fear of Loss of Vigilance theory is currently the only model available to explain nocturnal panic. It suggests that nocturnal panickers fear states in which they cannot easily react to or protect themselves from danger. Prior research using a self-report measure to differentiate nocturnal and daytime panickers has been unsuccessful. The current study sought to expand upon the existing theory by including constructs from the broader anxiety literature such as fear of sleep, intolerance of uncertainty, and responsibility for harm. Nocturnal panickers were expected to report higher scores on these measures when compared to daytime panickers and those without panic attacks. A sample of undergraduates (Nocturnal Panic N = 52; Daytime Panic N = 56; Without Panic N = 58) completed self-report measures about panic attacks, fear of sleep, intolerance of uncertainty, responsibility for harm, and fear of loss of vigilance. Measures of fear of sleep and responsibility for harm successfully differentiated nocturnal from daytime panickers, whereas measures of intolerance of uncertainty and fear of loss of vigilance did not. These results provide partial support for the Fear of Loss of Vigilance theory. Modifications to the theory to incorporate additional constructs are suggested.