Being scared of the dark is actually quite common but it can be an embarrassing fear to have when you’re a teenager…
Many people are afraid of the dark. Although a lot of people grow out of this fear, for some, it can linger during puberty and stay with them into adulthood. So, while you may feel embarrassed and ‘babyish’ for feeling afraid to go to sleep without a light, please know that you are not alone and that it affects many people of all ages, not just young kids.
Why Are We Afraid Of The Dark?
It’s a natural human response to feel afraid of the things we cannot see. All too often, our imagination starts to kick in when faced with a dark room. We start to feel our pulse race and our breath quicken. Objects in the room take on human shapes and we begin to fear that there’s something under the bed. We are scared of the unknown.
Some scientists believe that our fear of the dark is evolutionary. In other words, we still harbour fears in our mind that would have been of great importance when men first roamed the earth. Early man would have been wary and frightened of the dark because of night-time predators.
How To Feel Safer
You probably already sleep with a light on in your room or keep your door open to let light stream in from the hallway. Another idea is to pop on your headphones and play quiet, relaxing music or a calming podcast. This can help to steady your breathing, focus your mind and reduce your anxieties. Read our best apps for anxiety here.
Anything that gives you comfort and makes you feel safer is a good thing to have by your side when you settle down for the night. This could be a pet, a much-loved old bear or a familiar smelling piece of clothing.
Facing Your Fear
If you want to attempt to face your fear of the dark, the best way to do it is to take it slow. Talk to your family or someone you trust about it and discuss the things that make you most scared to try and put your fears in perspective.
If you always sleep with a night light, try moving it further and further away from your bed each night, until it is outside of your bedroom completely. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a rough night and need it back on your bedside table – you can always try again tomorrow.
Try to avoid watching any scary or violent shows before going to bed at night as these can really fuel your imagination and fan the flames of your fear. Instead, opt for an audiobook or a funny film to put you at ease before bedtime.
Sleeping Over At A Friend’s House
Sleepovers can be a real cause of alarm for someone who is afraid of the dark. Some people might avoid staying over at a friend’s house altogether. If you’d rather not make your phobia known, why not keep your phone torch on through the night or opt to sleep nearest the door where the light is? If you have supportive friends, ask to keep a light on. A good friend won’t make you feel silly for asking.
More Help If your fear of the dark is severely affecting your quality of life, talk to your GP or a professional counsellor.