Why is Grief Worse at Night and Early Morning? 5 Reasons to Know.

5 Reasons Why Grief Gets Worse at Night and Early Morning

Grief is the mind's and body's natural response to a painful loss.

When a person grieves, they tend to experience a range of emotions that impacts them emotionally and psychologically.

One of the common impacts of grief is difficulty getting through the night.

Grief gets worse at night for various reasons, and knowing these can help you effectively manage grief and get a goodnights sleep.

One reason your feelings of grief might worsen at night is due to rumination.

This is when your mind replays past events, overthinks, and continuously goes over scenarios in hopes of making sense of it.

Rumination can happen at any moment of that day; however, for people going through painful experiences, it worsens at night and can hinder sleep.

Also, during the quiet hours of the night, when there are no distractions, the brain refocuses on feelings of grief, which can lead to an unhealthy rumination cycle and indirectly affect a person's mental and physical health.

In addition, losing a nighttime companion can cause feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, and confusion, which may worsen the feelings of grief at night and early morning.

Adjusting to life after losing a close loved one can be even more difficult when you have to carry on shared activities alone.

It's best to seek support from friends, family, and support groups or seek therapy for grief.

Read on to learn more reasons why grief gets worse at night and early morning:

Grief & Loss Therapists in Colorado

Jackie Erwin, LPC

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Kristen Yamaoka-Los, LPC

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Mackenzie Batson, LPCC

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Samantha Zavala, LPCC

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Aurora, Colorado
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Marie Whatley LPCC

Marie Whatley LPCC

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Winnie Siwa, LPCC

Winnie Siwa, LPCC

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Kelsey Maestas, LPCC

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Deb Corbitt, LPC

Deb Corbitt, LPC

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Laura Hunt, LPC

Laura Hunt, LPC

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They Are Great Periods to Ruminate 

One reason your grief gets worse at night and early morning is that your mind ruminates over past events.

When people going through loss go to bed, their brain begins to have repetitive thoughts about memories and past scenarios.

This continuous rumination can become an unhealthy obsession and lead to prolonged grief and mental health disorders.

Rumination can be a difficult habit to break, especially for people going through unexpected/sudden loss.

If you notice you are going through a ruminating thought cycle, it is important to stop as soon as possible.

One way you can stop your rumination is by understanding your triggers.

Take note of your present situation when you have repetitive thoughts, including what's happening around you, what you did prior, and who's by your side(if anyone).

Identifying these triggers and managing them can significantly help reduce your rumination.

Also, you can try seeking professional help. Dealing with grief and rumination and, consequently, difficulty sleeping can affect your emotional, physical, and mental health.

It's best to see a therapist to get help identifying the causes of your rumination and addressing the problem.

You Don't Have Distractions 

There are lots of distractions that can help a griever escape from their feelings of grief during the daytime.

They may go to work, visit friends, or run errands to keep their minds and bodies busy.

However, during the night, when there are long hours of alone time, the brain refocuses on the emotions and thoughts of grief.

Thus, one of the reasons why grief gets worse at night is because there are no distractions.

An excellent way to tackle this is to find relaxing activities you can carry out before bedtime.

You can practice yoga, stretches, journaling, mind exercise, meditation, or any other evening practice that can serve as a healthy distraction at night.

Also, you can make your bedroom comfortable and cozy.

You can invest in new sheets, get comfortable pillows, repaint your room or get white noise.

The goal is to add a new and refreshing touch to your room, so it's easier to relax at night and get quality sleep.

In addition, when a person continuously delays their feelings of grief or avoids them, it can intensify negative emotions during their alone time and lead to profound sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

Thus, it's best to grieve the right way and heal properly rather than distracting yourself throughout the day to cope with grief. 


A typical reason grief gets worse at night is as a result of insomnia.

Insomnia and grief often go hand in hand for many people.

Grief can make it difficult to sleep or get quality sleep, and lack of quality sleep can, in turn, cause extreme distress and frustration, thus intensifying feelings of grief.

To conquer insomnia, you can follow the tenants of good sleep hygiene.

For one, you can set a fixed time to fall asleep and a specified time to wake up.

Endeavor to stick to this fixed time; as time goes by, your brain will become accustomed to your routine, and getting quality sleep will become easier.

Also, you can cancel out bedtime distractions.

Avoid watching television before bed, avoid using your tablets and smartphones at least an hour before bedtime and separate your work life from your personal life.

Gadgets and work are common bedtime distractions, and removing them can solve your insomnia problem.

In addition, caffeinated drinks and alcohol before bedtime can cause sleeping difficulties.

Some grieving individuals often resort to substance use to numb difficult feelings.

If this is you, you must know that while you may get temporary relief from substance use, you will feel worse in the long run.

You Have Lost a Companion 

If you lost someone you spent your evenings and nighttime with, be it your child, spouse, or friend, your nighttimes might especially remind you of their absence.

Losing a nighttime companion can intensify feelings of loneliness and is one of the reasons grief gets worse at night.

Adjusting to life alone after losing a close companion can be difficult, and it can get even more so at night when there's complete silence.

One way you can adjust is by reorganizing your bedroom and living space.

This enables you to take a mental note that things are different now, create a new aura, and can help you start afresh.

Also, you can share your grief feelings with kindred spirits.

Lean on friends and family for support, and join support groups.

Adjusting to life without your loved one often takes time, so don't try to rush the process alone.

Similarly, you can change your schedules and routines.

Spending evenings and nighttimes you once spent with a loved one alone can bring in a flood of memories and lead to rumination.

Doing the same routine can make it more difficult to forget and move on.

So, try switching up your former habits and routines and create new ones.

You Are Tired 

Expending your energy during the day is one of the reasons grief gets worse at night.

Often people experiencing grief spend most of their time and energy keeping it together during the day.

When night rolls around, there isn't any energy left for bedtime routines or doing things that make them feel relaxed.

To properly manage your day, endeavor to plan evening and nighttime activities and include them in your daily schedule.

Those activities can include crafts, puzzles, arts, books, video games, or other activities you enjoy to boost your serotonin before bed.

Also, it is essential to remove stress from your day, evenings especially.

If you feel depleted because you expend a lot of energy to survive all day, try to make your evening more relaxing and stress-free.

If cooking seems too much for you, consider ordering dinner or meal-prepping.

If someone wants to help you, accept their help without guilt.

If you're too tired to clean, you can postpone it to the next day.

Endeavor to make your evenings as stress-free as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Grief and Night and Early Morning

What are the stages of grief?

The stages of grief, according to the Kübler-Ross model, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

However, it's important to note that not everyone will experience all these stages, or in this order. Grief is a highly individual process.

Why is grief worse at night?

Grief may feel worse at night because sleep disturbances are common during the grieving process. 

As nighttime falls, distractions diminish and we're left alone with our thoughts, which can make the loss feel overwhelming.

When is grief usually the worst?

Grief can be particularly intense in the early days following a loss. 

However, it's not uncommon for grief to become more pronounced at certain times, like at night or in the morning. 

This can be due to the mind being busy processing the events that happened.

How do I deal with grief?

Dealing with grief involves allowing yourself to experience grief, seeking support from family members or a mental health professional, and taking care of your physical health. 

It's also important to remember that everyone grieves differently and there's no "right" way to grieve.

What is complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder?

Complicated grief, also known as prolonged grief disorder, is when intense grief symptoms continue for an extended period, often longer than six months. 

This type of grief can result in difficulty resuming normal life activities and can lead to sleep problems.

Why does grief seem worse in the morning?

Grief can seem worse in the morning as the reality of the loss is often one of the first thoughts upon waking. 

This can be particularly true if you shared many mornings with the person who has passed away during wonderful years spent together. 


Depending on the time of the day, a grieving person can experience sleeplessness, restlessness, profound sadness, guilt, frustration, and other intense emotions that are difficult to deal with.

It is thus important to allow your self heal gradually and seek therapy for grief when you need it.

Reasons your grief gets worse at night can be because you lost a close companion, expended your energy during the day, don't have distractions, are experiencing insomnia, or can't just stop ruminating.


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July 17th, 2024

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