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Evening time can be a time for relaxation and recovery, but for many it is also a time when anxiety and worry take over. Understanding and managing 'evening anxiety' is crucial for both your mental health and quality of sleep.

What is evening anxiety?

Night-time anxiety, also known as evening anxiety, is a form of anxiety that usually occurs or worsens during the evening or at bedtime. It can include feelings of worry, tension, and sometimes even panic when falling asleep.

Common symptoms

  • Heart palpitations and uneasiness in the body at night
  • Sleep problems anxiety, such as waking up with anxiety
  • Difficulty falling asleep due to sleep anxiety
  • Increased anxiety at bedtime and anxiety sleep problems

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Why does anxiety occur in the evening?

Evening anxiety may seem inexplicable and unpredictable, but there are actually several explanations why many people experience an increase in anxiety during the evening hours. To understand this phenomenon better, let’s explore some of the most common causes.

Daily stress accumulates

During the day, we encounter many stressors, be it work-related challenges, family obligations or social interactions. These stresses tend to build up and can become more noticeable as the day draws to a close. In the evening, when we finally have time to stop and reflect, these accumulated stressors can feel overwhelming and give rise to anxiety.

Fewer distractions

During the day, we are often busy with various activities that keep our minds engaged. In the evening, when these activities slow down, we become more aware of our inner thoughts and feelings. This lack of distraction can bring to the surface feelings of anxiety that may have been ignored or suppressed during the day.

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Changes in body chemistry

In the evening, our body goes through various biological changes that prepare us for sleep. These changes include variations in hormone levels, such as cortisol and melatonin, which can affect our mood. For some, these changes can contribute to an increased sense of anxiety.

Concern about sleep problems

Many people who suffer from anxiety in the evening worry that they will not be able to sleep, which in turn can create a vicious cycle of insomnia and anxiety. The fear of sleep problems and its consequences for the next day can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep, further exacerbating anxiety.

Reflection and lack of immediate feedback

The evening is often a time for reflection, and without immediate feedback or dialog with others, these reflections can lead to excessive worry and negative thought spirals.

Social isolation

Evenings are often less social compared with the rest of the day. For people already struggling with anxiety, feelings of isolation and loneliness can become more pronounced in the evening, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.

Understanding your anxiety

It is important to understand that evening anxiety is a common experience and that there are strategies to deal with it. Recognising and addressing the underlying causes of your anxiety can be a first step towards feeling better. Remember, if anxiety becomes overwhelming, there is professional help available. We are here to make the difficult easier.

Understanding the causes of your anxiety is a first step towards managing it. It can be anxiety related to specific events, or more diffuse worry and tension that manifests itself in the evening.

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Management of evening anxiety

Managing evening anxiety requires a combination of self-help techniques and professional help.

Self-help techniques

  • Relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises and meditation can help calm the mind.
  • Regular sleep hygiene: Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Daily exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce anxiety levels.
  • Write down your thoughts: Writing down worries can help to ‘switch off’ the brain for the night.

When to seek professional help

If your anxiety is persistent and affects your daily functioning or quality of sleep, you should consider contacting a psychologist. Therapy can be an effective way to manage and reduce evening anxiety. Lavendla has qualified psychologists and therapists who will help you work through your anxiety.


Evening anxiety is a common but manageable condition. By understanding and using different management techniques, you can improve your sleep quality and overall well-being. Remember, if your anxiety feels overwhelming, professional help is available. We make the difficult easier.

24 common questions and answers about evening anxiety

Why do I get anxiety in the evening?

Many people experience anxiety in the evening, and this can be due to several factors. Stress and worry built up during the day can become more apparent when trying to unwind. Another reason may be a lack of distractions during the day, which makes thoughts and worries more prominent. Changes in sleep patterns and hormonal shifts in the evening can also contribute.

What to do if you have sleep anxiety?

Try to create a calm and relaxing routine before bedtime. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or light yoga can be effective. It is also important to avoid screens and stimulating activities before bedtime. If the anxiety is persistent, consider talking to a psychologist or therapist to develop strategies to manage the anxiety.

Can you have anxiety for several hours?

Yes, it is possible to experience anxiety for an extended period of time, especially if it is not managed. Anxiety can feel overwhelming and prolonged if you don’t have effective strategies to deal with it. Professional help can be crucial in these cases.

How long does an anxiety attack last?

The length of an anxiety attack varies from person to person. Typically, an attack lasts from a few minutes to several hours. During an anxiety attack, you may experience symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, and a sense of panic. It is important to recognise these signs and have strategies to deal with them.

Is evening anxiety common?

It is quite common to experience anxiety in the evening. This is often due to the brain processing the day’s events and worries when trying to relax. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can help reduce evening anxiety.

Can diet affect my evening anxiety?

Yes, diet can have an impact on your anxiety. For example, caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety levels, especially if consumed in the evening. Eating a well-balanced diet with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats can help stabilise blood sugar and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Are there natural ways to reduce anxiety in the evening?

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation can be very effective. Regular physical activity and maintaining a regular sleep routine also help to reduce anxiety. Some even find relief through natural supplements such as chamomile tea or magnesium.

How can I distinguish between normal evening anxiety and a more serious condition?

Normal evening anxiety is usually temporary and manageable with self-help techniques. If the anxiety is constant, strongly affects your quality of life, or if you experience severe symptoms such as panic attacks, it is important to seek professional help. A psychologist or doctor can assess your situation and advise on appropriate treatment.

Does sleep deprivation affect evening anxiety?

Sleep deprivation can definitely worsen anxiety. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body becomes more stressed which can increase anxiety levels. Thus, working to improve sleep quality can be an important step in managing evening anxiety.

When should I seek help for my evening anxiety?

If your anxiety is interfering with your daily functioning, severely affecting your sleep, or if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, it is important to seek help. Professional help can provide you with tools and strategies to manage the anxiety, as well as investigate whether there are underlying causes that need to be treated.

Can relaxation techniques like mindfulness really help with evening anxiety?

Yes, mindfulness and other relaxation techniques can be very effective in managing evening anxiety. These practices help reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on the present moment and calming the mind, which can be particularly useful when trying to unwind for the night.

Is it common to feel more anxious in the evening compared to the daytime?

Yes, it is not unusual to feel more anxious in the evening. During the day, we are often busy with activities that distract us from our thoughts. In the evening, when we are less busy, thoughts and worries that we have pushed aside during the day can catch up with us.

Can exercise help reduce evening anxiety?

Regular physical activity can definitely help reduce anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress. However, it is important not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Are there any specific herbs or supplements that can relieve evening anxiety?

Some herbs and supplements, such as valerian, passionflower and magnesium, can help relieve anxiety and improve sleep. However, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any new supplements, especially if you are already taking other medications.

How can I change my evening routine to reduce anxiety?

Creating a calming evening routine can make a big difference. Avoid stimulating activities such as watching the news or using electronic devices just before bedtime. Instead, try relaxing activities like reading a book, listening to calm music, or taking a warm bath. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule is also important.

How can I manage anxiety triggered by sleep problems?

To manage anxiety related to sleep problems, start by creating a relaxing sleep environment and a consistent pre-bedtime routine. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the evening. If you lie awake due to anxiety, try calming breathing exercises or soft music to help your mind relax.

What role do digital devices play in evening anxiety?

Digital devices such as smartphones and computers can contribute to evening anxiety, partly through blue light that affects sleep cycles, and partly through content that can be stressful or stimulating. It is recommended to avoid these devices at least one hour before bedtime to promote better sleep and reduce anxiety.

Can diary writing in the evening help with anxiety?

Yes, diary writing can be an effective method of dealing with evening anxiety. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can process them and reduce the impact of anxiety. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on positive events or gratitude exercises.

How do alcohol and nicotine affect evening anxiety?

Alcohol and nicotine may feel temporarily calming, but they can actually increase anxiety levels and disrupt sleep. It is best to avoid these substances, especially in the evening, to improve both sleep quality and manage anxiety.

Can breathing exercises really make a difference to my evening anxiety?

Breathing exercises can be very effective in reducing anxiety. Deep breaths activate the body’s relaxation response, which can help calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep. Regular practice of such exercises can improve your ability to manage anxiety over time.

Can a hot bath before bedtime reduce evening anxiety?

A warm bath can be effective in reducing evening anxiety. The heat helps to relax the muscles and create a sense of well-being while the ritual of taking a bath can contribute to a relaxing evening routine and make it easier to fall asleep.

Are there any specific yoga exercises that can help with evening anxiety?

Calming yoga exercises such as recovery positions, light stretching and breath-focused movements can be very helpful in reducing evening anxiety. Yoga helps to centre the mind and promotes a sense of physical and mental relaxation.

Is it normal for anxiety to worsen during certain periods of the year?

It is not unusual for anxiety levels to vary depending on the time of year. Shorter days with less sunlight during winter months can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. It is important to be aware of these seasonal influences and take steps to manage them.

How can I talk to my partner or family about my evening anxiety?

Open communication is key. Share your experiences and feelings with your partner or family. Explaining what you are going through can help them understand and provide support. It can also be useful to discuss what specific actions or changes to your daily routine can help you manage your anxiety better.

Managing evening anxiety: step by step

Managing evening anxiety can be difficult, but with the right steps and strategies you can effectively reduce stress, anxiety and increase your well-being. Here is a concrete guide to help you or someone you know to start managing evening anxiety.

1. Identify the cause

Reflect: Before going to bed, take a few minutes to reflect on what may have caused the anxiety. It could be current events, future worries, or deep-seated concerns.

2. Create a relaxing routine

Relaxation techniques: Introduce relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or light yoga. These practices help to calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

3. Write down your thoughts about your evening anxiety

Journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This helps to externalise and process your worries, which can reduce feelings of anxiety.

4. Create a comfortable sleeping environment

Bedroom climate: Lower the room temperature, use comfortable bedding, and make sure the room is dark and quiet.

5. Practice good sleep hygiene

Routines: Avoid screens and stimulating activities before bedtime. Try to stick to the same sleep times every day to regulate your sleep cycle.

6. Use positive self-talk

Affirmations: Repeat positive affirmations such as ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am managing my anxiety’. These can help create a more positive frame of mind.

7. Seek professional help

Support: If anxiety feels overwhelming, consider seeking professional help. There are psychologists and therapists who can offer tools and strategies for dealing with anxiety.

8. Physical activity

Exercise: Regular exercise during the day can reduce anxiety levels and improve sleep quality.

9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Diet: Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in the afternoon and evening, as these can exacerbate anxiety and sleep problems.

10. Practice gratitude

Gratitude exercises: End the day by reflecting on what you are grateful for. This can help shift the focus from anxiety to positive aspects of your life.

If you feel that you need support in managing your evening anxiety, it is easy to get in touch with one of our therapists or psychologists through our website. They will be happy to guide you through different techniques and discuss in more detail what might be causing your anxiety.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.