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Why Do I Get Sad At Night?

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You’re not alone if you’ve noticed that your sadness intensifies at night. Many people experience a surge in nocturnal sadness, where emotions seem to hit harder during the quieter, darker hours. 

The Night-Time Increase in Emotional Vulnerability

Emotions, especially sadness, tend to intensify at night. It’s essential to understand why this happens to manage these feelings effectively.

The Role of Circadian Rhythms

Your circadian rhythms, which act as your internal biological clock, significantly regulate mood. Disruptions in these rhythms can lead to mood fluctuations, including feelings of sadness at night.

Hormones like melatonin, which regulate sleep-wake cycles, increase at night and can influence your emotional state. The decrease in daylight can also affect serotonin levels, a key hormone stabilizing mood.

Isolation and Quietness of Night

The stillness and isolation of night often lead to introspection. Without the distractions of daytime activities, there’s more space for your mind to focus on unresolved issues or worries, which can intensify feelings of sadness.

For many, night-time can feel lonelier, especially if you live alone or are away from loved ones. This solitude can amplify feelings of sadness or isolation.

Psychological and Environmental Factors

Psychological and environmental factors can contribute to your night-time emotional experience.

The stress and challenges you face during the day can accumulate and manifest more strongly at night when you have fewer distractions. This build-up can make emotional processing more intense in the evening.

Environmental factors like reduced daylight, especially during winter, can significantly impact your mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from the lack of sunlight can lead to changes in serotonin levels, affecting your overall sense of well-being.

Poor sleep quality or irregular sleep patterns can exacerbate feelings of sadness. Insufficient sleep can affect your emotional regulation and make you more prone to negative thinking.

Limited physical activity during the day, often due to sedentary lifestyles or environmental constraints, can contribute to mood disturbances. 

Your social environment, including strained relationships or isolation, can become more pronounced at night. The lack of social engagement in the evenings can heighten loneliness and sadness.

Managing Evening Melancholy

Tackling evening melancholy involves creating habits and routines that promote relaxation and a positive mental state. Here’s how you can manage these feelings as night approaches effectively.

Mindfulness and Meditation Before Bed

Practice mindfulness to center your thoughts and calm your mind. This can involve simple breathing techniques or guided imagery to shift focus away from distressing thoughts.

Regular meditation before bed can be beneficial. Whether it’s a focused meditation or a body scan meditation, these practices can help reduce stress and prepare your mind for sleep.

Spend a few minutes each night writing down things you are grateful for. This practice can shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive aspects of your life.

Establishing a Soothing Night-Time Routine

Sleep hygiene is pivotal in managing your mood and overall mental health, especially when dealing with evening melancholy. Implementing healthy sleep habits can significantly impact how you feel at night and the following day.


  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week. It regulates the body’s internal clock.
  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary with comfortable bedding, a cool room temperature, dim light, and insulation to reduce noise. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or white noise machines if necessary.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • At least a half hour of exercise during the day can help you sleep better at night, but try not to exercise too close to bedtime.
  • While short naps are good for you, long or irregular napping patterns during the day can reduce sleep quality at night.
  • Try calming activities before bed, like reading or listening to soft music. 

When Sadness Becomes Overwhelming

If you find that your sadness at night is becoming a regular occurrence and is more intense, to the point where it’s affecting your ability to function during the day, it’s a sign to take action.

When the sadness you feel at night starts to seep into your day, hindering your performance at work, relationships, or overall ability to enjoy life, you may need additional support.

Sometimes, emotional distress can manifest physically, such as through chronic insomnia, significant changes in appetite, or unexplained aches and pains.

If you find yourself having persistent thoughts of hopelessness or helplessness, or if you’re contemplating self-harm or worse, seek help immediately.

Conclusion: Embracing Restful Nights

Dealing with sadness, especially at night, can feel incredibly challenging. You’re not alone in this experience, and having these feelings is OK. Try not to ruminate over why sadness hits harder at night; instead, focus on the small steps you can take to ease your mind and find comfort. 

These changes may yield little results immediately, but they can significantly affect your feelings over time. Embrace each night as an opportunity for rest and renewal, and be gentle with yourself as you navigate through these feelings. 

Originally published: November 21, 2023
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