Know What Is Nyctophobia, How It Is Affecting the Mental Health of Adolescents
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Know What Is Nyctophobia, How It Is Affecting the Mental Health of Adolescents


Nycto – Night; Phobia- fear. As the name indicates, fear of dark or night is called Nyctophobia.

Specifically, phobia is an ultimate condition of irrational belief in specific anxiety-provoking stimuli. Darkness is one of the reasons that provokes fear among children as well as adults. This irrational feeling of dark or night is called Nyctophobia (fear of the dark).

Fear or phobic condition is one of the basic emotions of a human being. According to Beglay(2007) “ the primitive nature of fear means that it is triggered (not only by words)  but by the images formed by the human that forms a connection with the brain region”. So fear is common in all developmental stages of human beings. This emotion occurs for several reasons such as height, water, animal, supernatural beings, darkness, etc. This article mainly focuses on the fear of the dark which is called nyctophobia.  

The fear of night is common in children and we generally consider this condition a normal response during development. Most of the time, this fear has a short span, but if it lives for a longer time, it may become a serious issue and specialists should be considered to address this phobia.


When we consider children, they develop phobic conditions due to unrealistic or irrational beliefs about the dark. On the other hand, adults tend to possess realistic reasons. This condition in children sometimes transforms from unrealistic belief into reality when they grow up. Particularly, the realistic belief exists in the form of fear of victimization (realistic) among adults when they are exposed to dark. This may cause people to be less likely to participate in dark events.  Research shows that women show a higher degree of fear of being victimized than men to dark.



  • A heightened feeling of fear in the dark
  • Shortening of breath
  • Sweating
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Avoid any situation that exposes them to dark
  • Gastric problem (poor sleep)
  • Appetite
  • Laziness
  • Depression(prolonged fear) and other associated symptoms.

According to a small study performed by the journal of experimental psychology with more than 100 participants, it was proved that the people who have poor sleep were being uncomfortable in dark and they tend to become startled when they are sleeping in night and they reported that they experience great fear as they think the dark event would come.


As we see before, nyctophobia is common among children but it might associate with other anxiety disorders.

  • In adults, the fear of violence and victimization is the prominent reason. Adding to this, brain changes would occur during the absence of light stimuli.
  • According to the article published in Psi Chi Psychological Research, people tend to experience more fear as they begin to startle or imagine threats when they are in dark.
  • Some people are unaware of the reason which stimulates nyctophobia and few experience fear of the dark due to conditioning or learned behaviour.



Treatment of nyctophobia seeks self-help strategies and professional help if needed.

Some strategies to overcome nyctophobia are,

Self-Affirmation – the use of words like ‘no need to fear and there is nothing in the dark’ might help people to overcome nyctophobia

Usage of relaxation techniques – the techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.

It includes,

  • Soothing techniques – listening to music, smelling
  • Body-based techniques such as yoga, massage, slow diagrammatic breathing, etc.
  • Mind-based relaxation – meditation, breathing techniques, etc.

Developing a positive attitude toward dark –Developing positive images of dark events might help the person to overcome nyctophobia


This therapy helps people to understand the nature of fear in both the aspect of cognition as well as behavioural. The professionals help the people to identify the anxiety-provoking stimuli, teaching them strategies to overcome their fear of nyctophobia.


Exposure is the evident technique that is commonly used in anxiety disorders. In this, the people are exposed to the anxiety-provoking events and they are advised to practice relaxation techniques simultaneously. But this should be practiced with the proper guidance of professionals.



Nyctophobia can also be treated by medications. This medication will be used only for temporary or for promoting sleep if the person experiences significant or severe symptoms of nyctophobia.


Generally, a nyctophobic condition is considered to be a normal function of development. If this condition persists till adulthood, it should be reconsidered and efforts should be made to eliminate it.

The treatment of this nyctophobia depends on the severity of the symptoms. If proper techniques are being used, over time people can overcome nyctophobia.

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