Why We’re Afraid of Darkness
Fear of the dark is a common phobia in children and adults. It doesn’t always have to do with a lack of light. The reason it appears may be connected with the dangers (real and imaginary) that hide in the dark.
We at 5-Minute Crafts are going to tell you about nyctophobia which is an age-inappropriate fear of darkness that brings trouble to the lives of adults.
❗ Important: All the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Always consult with a specialist if you have any problems.
What fear of the dark is. Reasons and symptoms
Fear of the dark is often referred to as scotophobia and lygophobia. This condition is triggered by a disfigured idea of what could or might happen in the darkness. This irrational fear is connected not with the darkness itself but with the unknown dangers hiding in it.
Because people are not nocturnal animals, they are usually more cautious at night, because darkness is a completely different environment. In other words, fear of the dark is an evolutionary trait humanity acquired to survive near predators who were active during the night. Scientists believe that fear of the dark appeared in human history when people weren’t as developed as we are today. For our ancestors, it was extremely important to stay safe at night. If they hadn’t done so, they would have been extinct. Over the years, fear of the dark has become instinctive, and some people still feel it.
Some experts believe that fear of the dark may be connected with the anxiety of breaking up with someone very close. The symptoms of nyctophobia vary from person to person and depend on a certain situation. They usually include:
- anxiety that intensifies in the darkness
- not wanting to go outside at night
- the need to turn on lights
- physiological symptoms, such as elevated heartbeat, sweating, shivering, and even feeling bad when you have to be in the darkness
What causes fear of the dark in adults
In adults, fear of the dark might look different depending on the person. Some people feel uncomfortable after watching thrillers and horror films. Some people still suffer from childhood phobias or had a traumatic experience at night. There can be very different reasons.
Scientists are looking into the connection between nyctophobia and insomnia. A Canadian study showed that almost half of the people that have insomnia are scared of the dark.
How to cope with a fear of the dark
It’s best to consult a psychologist who can find the best strategy for you. The goal of the treatment is to change the negative idea of the dark and make symptoms less severe. Very often, these things are used to deal with a fear of the dark:
- talk therapy
- relaxation techniques: deep breathing, meditation, yoga
- cognitive behavioral therapy — acknowledging the negative feelings and replacing them with positive ones
- bedroom makeover — where you place your favorite things, that make you feel calm and safe, in your bedroom
There’s no magic pill to help someone quickly overcome a fear of the dark. But the right combination of techniques, therapy, and self-help can help you deal with this fear.