5 Nighttime Habits That Are Secretly Making Your Anxiety Worse

Many of us have long days that keep us busy with what’s unfolding in front of us. But by the end of the day, you may feel your anxiety has exacerbated.

Once our days end, we have fewer distractions from our anxiety, said Erica Basso, a psychotherapist and owner of a group practice in California. You may be worrying more about the things that make you anxious simply because you have the time to do so. On top of that, there are some things you may be doing in the evening that can snowball your racing thoughts — leading to anxiety keeping you awake and disturbing your sleep.

Below, we asked therapists to share the most common nighttime habits that could worsen your anxiety. Here’s what to avoid so you can relax and rest:


Doomscrolling — also known as doomsurfing — is when you spend excessive time seeking out negative content on social media or news outlets. You may feel like it will be helpful initially, but end up feeling anxious afterward.

“Consuming triggering information is overwhelming for our minds as it is trying to wind down and can worsen anxiety and can interfere with the quality of your sleep,” said Alyssa Mancao, a therapist and founder of Alyssa Marie Wellness.

Try to put a hard stop to social media and headlines at least 30 minutes before bed, but ideally even before that. Instead, try reading a book before hitting the sheets.

Skipping relaxation techniques.

Don’t underestimate the power of priming your brain for rest. According to Nekeshia Hammond, a psychologist, speaker and author, overlooking relaxation techniques can heighten anxiety during the evening and nighttime hours.

Sometimes, a simple meditation or deep breathing exercise is what you need to alleviate your anxious thoughts and pave the way for more tranquil sleep. If those aren’t your thing, try some gentle stretching, journaling or a warm shower. Whatever helps your body and mind relax — without your phone.

Dwelling on past or future problems.

If you reflect on past issues or rehearse the next day in your head before bedtime, you’re not alone. However, this mental exercise can actually reinforce the cycle of anxiety by validating the threat, Basso said.

She recommended to “remind yourself that there’s nothing realistically in your control that you could do about what you are worrying about” right before you go to sleep.

Schedule a time to worry instead ― even go as far as blocking time on your calendar ― so you can move it out of your mind before you try to rest.

“Trust that you will know how to tackle it when you’re in the moment,” she said.

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Worrying about past or future issues can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest.

Engaging in stressful discussions or an argument.

It’s normal to have a conversation or post-day debrief at night to discuss how your day went. Maybe you’re venting to your partner or it’s the only time you can call your parents. But if it’s going to spiral into something distressing, it may be best to save it for another time of day.

“Talking to someone who focuses on unpleasant things or discussing something stressful can have a negative impact on your body. You may not even realize it, but your body and mind can start to absorb the negative feelings,” said Kristin Meekhof, co-author of “A Widow’s Guide to Healing.”

Checking work emails and messages.

When you check your work email before bedtime, you’re reengaging with your work responsibilities. This is breaching a work boundary that can be crucial to getting restorative sleep for those prone to anxiety, perfectionism and racing thoughts at bedtime, said Sage Grazer, psychotherapist specializing in anxiety.

Instead, draw a fine line with your work-life balance by logging off after work hours if possible. Try to define your boundaries so you can prioritize time for yourself and achieve optimal well-being.

Ultimately, if you find your anxiety is regularly interfering with your evening, it’s worth seeking out professional support. Therapists can help you work through what’s causing you to feel how you do and give you the tools to manage it daily. You deserve to relax ― especially at the end of a long day.