Definition: night nags.
Night nags are the uncomfortable thoughts that come into your mind when you find yourself lying awake in bed at two o’clock in the morning. You may for instance find yourself worrying about mortality and the fleeting nature of existence: or perhaps about the insignificance of your life in the vastness of an infinite universe (same thing really): or maybe about a passing comment made to a friend the previous day that you think they may have taken wrongly.
Whatever the subject of your meditations they will feel unbearably burdensome and onerous at the time – the middle of the night – but they will have magically receded from your thoughts by the time you tuck into your breakfast in the morning.
Night nags are overblown thoughts of gloom and doom to which the mind seems particularly susceptible during the small hours. Susceptibility during those dark hours of the night is probably the result of changes in body chemistry that occur at that phase of a person’s circadian cycle, and is possibly nothing to do with the fact that you haven’t got anything else to distract you from the subjects as you lie there staring into the silent blackness that surrounds you.
These nocturnal worries are called night nags because of their nagging and intrusive nocturnal nature – and because of their relationship to those other night-time unpleasantnesses, nightmares. The equestrian link between the words nag and mare is serendipitous, as the mare in nightmare is nothing to do with horses, instead referring to an irritatingly evil spirit.
The term night nag is a neolism (new word or expression), first coined, as far as I know, on 8th December 2013 by Jenepher Gordon while describing a night-time worry of the preceding night. She used the expression because she liked the alliteration.The link between the terms ‘nag’ and ‘mare’ was then noticed and the term instantly took root.