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Last Updated: Dec 26, 2020
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Nyctophobia (Fear of Dark) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

About Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment Overcome Tips Additional Information
Nyctophobia (Fear of Dark) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Nyctophobia?

While it is normal for a young child to get scared of being in the darkness, that should not be the case for older kids and adults. The fear of darkness is termed as Nyctophobia, a phobia which is age-inappropriate in nature. Due to Nyctophobia, a person tries to avoid situations where there is no light and feels anxious in darkness.

As the sun sets, many people actually feel relaxed as they can go to bed and embrace the night. They are grateful for the day and look forward to great sleep in soft pyjamas and fluffy bedding.

However, those who have the fear of darkness, cannot stay relaxed and stay on edge all night. Nyctophobia can also cause sleepless nights or insomnia in some individuals.

There is a certain level of fear that everyone feels at night because nighttime is usually associated with low light and higher chances of danger. But, if the fear that a person feels is beyond his/her control, then it is important to trust the instinct and visit a medical expert to discuss the fear so that the condition does not become worse over the time period of time.

If left untreated, Nyctophobia can cause compulsive disorder and might hamper day to day life of an individual as it can affect mental health.

Symptoms of Fear of Dark

Nyctophobia is very different from the fear that a child might experience whose fear isn’t reality-based and quite hypothetical. A child might fear that a monster or any supernatural creature might be hiding under his/her bed, but with someone suffering from Nyctophobia, the fear is real and can trigger panic attacks.

Hence, a person needs to look out for certain symptoms to understand if it’s a normal fear or Nyctophobia. Symptoms of this phobia include:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Tingling
  • Stomach Upset
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Chest tightness
  • Anxiety
  • Headache

Nyctophobia Causes and Effects

Nyctophobia is also known by the terms scotophobia, achluophobia, and lygophobia. The exact origin of this phobia is not known but studies reveal it is evolutionary in nature. Thus, the exact cause behind this phobia is not darkness but unknown dangers that can be present in the darkness

How to Diagnosis Nyctophobia Issue?

For diagnosis of Nyctophobia, you should meet a doctor and discuss all the symptoms experienced by him/her. Also, discuss with your doctor if you have had any psychiatric and social history in the past.

Thereafter, a doctor may or may not use diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to complete the diagnostic procedure. It is suggested to inform your doctor if you feel anxious especially in the dark, have trouble sleeping or have any other related symptoms of Nyctophobia.

Nyctophobia Medical Treatment

Treatment for nyctophobia can differ from one person to another. For some, cognitive behavioural therapy can provide assistance whereas for other medication can be helpful. The treatment also depends on the severity of the patient’s medical health. Also, what might work from one individual, might not show great results for another.

Exposure therapy: It is the common treatment option where the patient is exposed to certain events that can successfully help him/her cope up with their phobias. There may be little risk linked with this therapy, hence it is not for everyone. So, discussing your condition with a doctor is a key factor to determine the right kind of treatment.

Meditation: Taking deep breaths and relaxing the body can be of great help while dealing with any kind of phobia. This can help calm the mind of the patient, at the same time, eases out stress and worries.

Cognitive therapy: Cognitive therapy is usually used in combination with exposure therapy. However, this also depends on the severity of the patient’s condition. The therapy uses various kinds of facts and information to overcome fear. However, this must always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional in order to have a positive impact.

How to Overcome from Nyctophobia?

The most common way to overcome the fear of darkness is the combination of medical help and meditation. Those who suffer from panic attacks or anxiety due to nyctophobia should follow some strategies to overcome it and reduce the distress caused by it.

It is necessary to discover the factor responsible for fear. A patient should try to make him/her less anxious by doing meditation, which ultimately can help in good night sleep.

Try to slow down the negative thoughts and do not overthink at night. Focus on the positive perspectives of the nighttime where you can actually relax and have some me-time. Muscle relaxation exercises are also suggested as they help in relieving stress from the body. Apart from these, follow the prescription of your doctor and do as he guides to overcome your fear.

Tips to Overcome the Fear of the Dark

Nyctophobia is related with a sleep disorder,like insomnia. The dark is something that scares most of the people. with darkness comes a loss of control. As humans, we are highly dependent on our sense of vision. When we lose our ability to see, it definitely affects our sense of control and power. Below are 5 tips to overcome the fear of dark:

  • Calm down before bed: It is necessary that you put yourself in a calm and meditative state before going to bed. Don't take caffeine that makes you nervous and keeps your pulse rate high. Stay away from the electronic devices instead you can listen to some soft relaxing music or read for a little while. Here the point is to get yourself into the most relaxing mindset possible. Have some chamomile tea and try to avoid anything that will stress you for the night like last-minute work.
  • Gradually Darken Your Room: Sleeping in darkness gives you deeper and more restful sleep. This encourages you to make steps in sleeping in dark darkness. However, you don't need to turn off the lights completely. You can just dim the lights according to your comfort level while sleeping. For example, You have the option of opening the lights in an adjoining room. You should check your anxiety level in sleeping in dim lights until you can sleep in total darkness.
  • Challenge your fears: If you hear a thump or a crashing sound in the middle of the night you should encourage yourself to confront your fears immediately. You should see yourself that the things you are imagining in your head are really just caused by explicable events.
  • Make your room pleasant: You can erase some of your fears by the dark by making your room a happy and pleasant space to sleep in. Choose colors and warm a happy decor to help you think of positive thoughts as you doze off. Keep everything nice and neat so you won't be imagining stuff from your neglected corner. Keep your room spacious and free from clutter . Use aromatherapy in your room.
  • You have to learn to sleep on your own: Younger people have the privilege of sleeping with parents and siblings. However, for adults, one way to successfully sleep on your own is by having a pet beside you. Pets are immensely comforting and they may help you sleep in total darkness.

Additional Information on Nyctophobia

If you or someone in your family fears of darkness, then they may have nyctophobia. Nyctophobia can become worse for some people as it can cause extreme anxiety. For them, seeking medical aid is essential.

If your fear of darkness is causing a disturbance in your day to day activities and in your ability to sleep, then visit a medical expert and stay calm during the course of treatment. This will help you overcome fear and have a good night’s sleep.

Popular Questions & Answers

I had nyctophobia since I was a little girl, but I grew up with nyctophobia, and it now started to bother me a whole lot, during my age (13). I would really like to know how to get rid of nyctophobia, since people just call me a baby, and make fun of me.

MBBS, Basic Life Support (B.L.S), Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Fellow of Academy of General Education (FAGE)
General Physician, Delhi
This fear can be promoted by a person’s thoughts or expectation of being in dark. People who are scared of darkness avoid working at night or engaging in any activity when it is dark. Nyctophobia can be controlled through a combination of several ...

I am facing nyctophobia from 6 days please help me I am unable to sleep all the night even in lights of room instead in fear of ghosts of something relating please help any doctor I am 21 now what will happen in my upcoming life tell me solution to sleep today properly.

Ayurvedic Doctor, Jaipur
Do not panic. It happens sometimes because of stress or anxiety. This is a temporary phase and will go away. You may get shirodhara done from a nearby ayurveda center for 5 days. Take himalaya's ayurveda mentat tablet 2 after breakfast and 2 after...
1 person found this helpful

I can't sleep though I am sleepy. every time it gets dark, I can't sleep where as the entire day, I feel sleepy. How can I sleep in the night?

Homeopath, Thane
mental health disorder feeling worry anxiety or fear that r strong enough to interfere with excessive worry fear unwanted thought called nyctophobia trigger by brain disfigured perception of what would happen when in a dark environment
1 person found this helpful
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PhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child Care
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