• Graveyard Shift

10 Facts About Nyctophobia, An Extreme Fear Of Night And Darkness

An irrational fear of darkness is known as nyctophobia, and it is far more common and more debilitating than most people realize. While a few credible studies have shed some light on the fear of darkness, little is still known about the pathological background of this condition. Not only does nyctophobia often go undiagnosed and therefore untreated, but those who suffer with a paralyzing fear of night may be too embarrassed to discuss their condition with anyone.

A fear of the dark can be just a serious as any other psychological condition. In fact, this complex condition can lead to the development of other disorders. The symptoms are severe and attack the person on both a physical and mental level. Because of this nyctophobia is considered a dangerous disease, and just the anticipation of nightfall can be enough to trigger symptoms.

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  • Adults Can Suffer From Nyctophobia, Too

    Photo: Mourner / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    While most children have a fear of darkness - some more than others - they usually tend to grow out of it, but this cannot be said for everyone. According to a UK survey in 2012, 40% of adults said they were afraid roaming their own homes in the dark. Out of those respondents, 10 percent of them were too afraid to get out of bed to use the bathroom at night.

  • Childhood Trauma May Be A Contributing Factor

    Photo: Jim Grey / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Traumatic childhood experiences that took place in the dark can trigger nyctophobia. A natural fear of the dark emerges in children early on, and if something happens to reinforce the validity of that fear, the fear will remain and even worsen. Children who were locked in dark rooms as punishment, for example, or were left neglected in the dark after night terrors are likely to suffer from nyctophobia well into adulthood.

  • Nyctophobia May Be Based In Our Prehistoric Past

    Photo: The Whisperer of the Shadows / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    While nyctophobia is considered an “irrational fear” by professionals, it actually ties in with the evolution of mankind. Retaining at least some fear of the dark (or of what’s lurking in it) may not be so irrational after all.

    Electricity and all other modern conveniences are just that - modern. Home wasn’t always a sanctuary, it was a door-less cave, and humans were hunted by predatory creatures by night. A natural fear of the dark and our built-in fight or flight response is what has kept us alive.

    The dark has also been long associated with evil. Since ancient times, the dark of night has been seen as the cloak that allows things of a paranormal nature to come out and play.

  • Common Sounds And Items Can Become A Threat

    Photo: pougnol / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    People suffering from nyctophobia are already on edge as soon as the lights go out, so it’s no surprise that every small sound startles them. Even more disturbing, they begin to lose their grip on reality, seeing and hearing things that aren't there. During these hallucinations, even common objects can begin to take on menacing shapes.