Everyone experiences anxiety differently. There are people that wake up and already struggle with significant anxiety. They experience most of their anxiety in the mornings, and while it tends to last all through the day, it is almost never as bad as it is when they get up.
But there are others that experience anxiety that gets worse in the evenings. Many still have anxiety throughout the day, but it's during the evening hours when their anxiety tends to become far more overwhelming.
Do You Have Anxiety at Night?
Night anxiety can hit you because of severe daytime stress, because of anxiety over sleep or family life, or even for no reason at all. Our free 7-minute anxiety test will give you statistics about your anxiety severity, and help you learn more about what you can do to cure it.
Causes of Evening Anxiety
Anxiety that gets worse in the evenings may be caused by several issues, including the association of bed with stress, a lack of distraction forcing you to think about your anxiety, and simply being drained from the day.
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The causes of evening anxiety are somewhat unclear, in that there isn't anything about anxiety that should increase in the evenings. That means that each person suffering from evening anxiety likely has their specific reason. Possibilities include:
- Post-Work Stress Many people experience considerable anxiety after work, because of the way their work caused them significant stress. When you're feeling stressed at work for a substantial amount of time and go home to your thoughts, it's not uncommon for that tension to grow, leading to further late-night anxiety.
- Morning Distractions Throughout the morning and afternoon, you're very busy. Distractions are an important tool for relieving anxiety. So those that are busy at work or busy in the mornings will be less likely to be able to focus on their stresses. But once all of that is over, and the distractions are gone, anxiety tends to bubble up to the surface.
- Sleep Therapy Sleep is its own natural form of therapy, and anxiety is a cumulative condition. So it's possible that every time you sleep your anxiety dissipates, and then over time as you go throughout your day it builds itself back until you sleep again.
- Restless Leg Syndrome- Restless leg syndrome is a condition that starts in the evenings and can lead to pain an discomfort in the legs. It may make it harder to sleep and cause anxiety symptoms whenever it starts to occur.
- Late Night Associations For many, anxiety becomes associated with events. For example, if you often fight in bed with your spouse, then going to bed will create more anxiety even if you're not fighting. It's possible that you have had several arguments or problems around dinner time or later, and so when you start to approach that time your body becomes anxious in anticipation.
- Physical Responses Some people find that they are more prone to hyperventilation in the evenings, as well as experiencing more aches and pains and fatigue. Those with anxiety attacks may react to these feelings with greater levels of anxiety. Since each person has their own triggers, those with evening anxiety may have more night triggers.
This list is only preliminary. It's possible that some people are more prone to biological responses as well. Brain chemistry changes based on energy levels, time of day, diet, and other factors that may differ at night compared to during the day.
Also, some people become their own mental enemy in the evening. As soon as you start to wonder whether or not you're more prone to evening anxiety, you're also setting yourself up to anticipate evening anxiety. As strange as it sounds, the very realization that you have evening anxiety may make evening anxiety more likely.
The most likely reason is simply the lack of distractions. Anxiety tends to take over when we're lost in our own thoughts, and unfortunately, most people have little to think about at night that prevents them from focusing on their anxiety. But again, it may be any combination of causes.
How to Prevent Evening Anxiety
There are some very simple ways to reduce evening anxiety, at least comparatively. Overall, the only way to guarantee that you don't get anxiety in the evenings is to cure your anxiety altogether. But in the absence of that option, there are strategies that can help you break the cycle of anxiety at night. These include:
- Staying Busy The first thing you need to do is try to stay busy. No matter how tired you are from work, make sure that you've planned several things to do once you're off work that you enjoy. This will reduce the time spent moping or lost in your own head, which is important for reducing anxiety.
- Post Work Exercise You should also make sure that you're physically active. One of the best short-term anxiety cures is aerobic exercise. If you can get yourself exercising right before or while your anxiety hits, you'll find that your anxiety symptoms decrease and your ability to cope with the stress improves.
- Creating a Boring Routine If staying busy and exercising isn't something you can do, a boring routine may help. Routines are all about comfort. As long as your routine involves doing something, you'll find that the act of knowing exactly what you're doing at all times can be very calming to the mind and body.
- Goal Setting You should also consider giving yourself goals - goals that you can work on every night. This relates to staying busy, of course, but they also ensure that each night is spent focusing on the future, not just the present. Even if one of those goals is to finish a jigsaw puzzle, as long as you're working on it, you'll improve your ability to cope with anxiety.
- Self-Awareness Finally, make sure that you're aware of your anxiety more. The more in-tune you are to the way you feel, the more you can break the anxiety cycle. When you start feeling anxiety at night, don't try to fight it. Acknowledge it to yourself, try to see what you're doing when it comes up, and then try to treat it. Fighting anxiety makes anxiety worse. But accepting it and solving it anyway can make it much better.
These are all tools designed to break the evening anxiety cycle. They're not going to cure your anxiety altogether because they're not anxiety coping strategies, but they will all help you reduce the amount of anxiety you seem to experience in the evenings.
You'll still need to partner any of these strategies with a long-term anxiety cure. Something that ensures you experience less anxiety overall, not just at night.
I've helped thousands of people with evening anxiety cure their anxiety forever. You start with my free 7-minute anxiety test, to look at your symptoms and discover what solution works best to treat them.
Start my test by clicking here now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Dec 05, 2017.