Can't sleep? Maybe you're afraid of the dark!

If you frequently have a hard time sleeping, you've most likely chalked it up to insomnia or stress. I know I have! But it turns out there might be a more unexpected reason for your restlessness.  A new study has recently found that some adults can't fall sleep because they're afraid of the dark.


That's right, grown-ups can fear darkness too! Researchers in Toronto studied nearly 100 college students that were classified as either good sleepers or poor sleepers.  They examined small twitches in eye muscles during sleep while exposing the subjects to random bursts of sound when the lights were either turned on or off. They found that poor sleepers were more easily disturbed by the noises(duh) and their reactions were exaggerated by darkness (well, they were sleeping!)

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And while good sleepers became accustomed to the disturbances, poor sleepers became even more anxious and startled. When asked later, an astounding 46 percent of poor sleepers admitted to being afraid of the dark, almost double the amount of good sleepers that harbored the same fear.

Let me tell you why I don't really buy into this. I am a terrible sleeper.  A good night's sleep, to me, is so rare and beautiful that I often think that it's just a big myth and no such thing actually exists. Why? Contrary to the rest of my family who can start snoring away happily the minute their heads hit the pillow, I wake up to every little sound, flicker of light or movement.  In fact, the only time I can really sleep is when I have silence and as close to complete and utter darkness as I can get.

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That's why I always shut my blinds as much as I can, close my door, and pull my blankets over my head. Maybe it's strange that I need such bear-like hibernation to get some rest, but I do…which is why I find this study so weird!

I'm not saying that adults can't be afraid of the dark but it seems to me that if you subject any sleeper to random bursts of sound, they'll probably stir a little. And the reason why light sleeper's movements are exaggerated by the dark is probably not just because they're afraid of it, but because the dark has allowed them to (at last!) fall into a deeper sleep than they normally get and you're disrupting that blissfulness by blasting your annoying, freaking noises! Just saying. 

My advice to all the poor sleepers out there? Lock the door, close the curtains, turn off the darn lights, and enjoy!

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: latino health  mental health  sleep