Why do I feel worse at night when it's calm and quiet?

Have you ever noticed that as the day winds down and evening approaches, your mood seems to take a nosedive? It's a common phenomenon, and there are scientific reasons behind it. From feeling more anxious to experiencing a surge in negative thoughts, the evening hours can sometimes feel like an emotional rollercoaster. So, why exactly do we tend to feel worse as the day draws to a close?


One key factor contributing to this evening slump is the decrease in distractions. Throughout the day, we are often preoccupied with work, social interactions, and various activities that keep our minds engaged. However, as evening sets in, these distractions tend to dwindle. With fewer external stimuli to occupy our thoughts, our minds can wander into negative territory.

Negative thoughts, which may have been lingering in the background throughout the day, often become louder and more pronounced during the evening hours. This phenomenon can be attributed to a combination of factors, including fatigue and decreased cognitive resources. As our energy levels decline, we may find it increasingly challenging to fend off pessimistic thoughts and worries.

Moreover, as the day progresses, we may also ruminate more on unresolved issues or stressors from earlier in the day. Without the busyness of daytime activities to keep us occupied, our minds have more opportunity to dwell on these concerns, amplifying our feelings of unease and anxiety.

Another contributing factor is the natural rhythm of our internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm. Our bodies are programmed to follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, regulating various physiological processes, including sleep-wake patterns and hormone secretion. Towards the evening, our bodies begin to wind down in preparation for sleep, which can sometimes lead to a drop in mood.

For some individuals, the evening hours may also bring a sense of loneliness or social isolation. As the day comes to an end, there may be fewer opportunities for social interaction, particularly for those who live alone or have limited social networks. This lack of companionship can exacerbate feelings of sadness or melancholy, contributing to an overall sense of unease.

Along with all these different factors, modern lifestyle issues such as screen time and exposure to artificial light in the evening can also play a role in exacerbating negative feelings. Excessive screen time, particularly before bedtime, has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns and increased feelings of stress and anxiety. Similarly, exposure to artificial light in the evening can interfere with the body's natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, further disrupting our circadian rhythms and mood.

So, what can be done to alleviate the evening blues?

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate negative feelings in the evenings, there are steps we can take to mitigate their impact.

  • Engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help to calm the mind and promote a sense of inner peace.
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and limiting screen time before bedtime can improve sleep quality and overall well-being.

Feeling worse in the evenings is a common experience for some people, and there are various factors at play. From the decrease in distractions to the natural rhythms of our body clock, it's natural for our mood to fluctuate throughout the day. By understanding these factors and implementing strategies to support our mental health, we can navigate the evening hours with greater ease and resilience.

If you feel that you need some more support to help you manage the evening blues, counselling can help. Don't hesitate to get in touch to find out how I can support you. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9
Written by Natasha Kelly, BA (Hons) MBACP
Twickenham TW1 & Richmond TW9

Natasha is a counsellor based in London and online. Her passion lies in helping individuals build meaningful connections and foster strong rapport. With a deep understanding of human emotions and interpersonal dynamics, she has worked as a primary school teacher and as a freelance writer on mental health.

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