Conquer Your Fear Of The Dark And Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Written by on June 12, 2012 in Family - 1 Comment | Print this page

Conquer Your Fear Of The Dark And Get A Good Night's Sleep,fear of the dark,insomnia,sleep habits

Conquer Your Fear Of The Dark And Get A Good Night's Sleep - Image source: Wikimedia

Fear of the dark isn’t just a childhood issue. Even some adults need to sleep with a nightlight, feet safely tucked under the covers. It’s a common fear and one that’s often met with ridicule. But if you don’t help your child overcome his fear of the dark, he could turn into an adult who suffers from insomnia. Maybe, just like you?

Researchers at Ryerson University have found that poor sleepers and people suffering from insomnia, often reported being afraid of the dark. Participants in the study were adults with an average age of 22 and about 75% of the group admitted to being afraid of the dark.

The study found that people who are seriously afraid tend to sleep poorly throughout the night. They may not come completely awake but their sleep patterns are easily disrupted because they’re on edge all night long.

Anyone who suffers from insomnia will tell you that it can have some terrible effects on your body. Fatigue, weight gain, lack of concentration, and falling asleep at your desk, are just a start. If the problem persists you start having problems with digestion, breathing difficulties, and circulation problems. Insomnia is nothing to laugh about.

Insomnia can be caused by a number of things – medication, stress or just uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Some people even suffer from insomnia because they’re afraid they’re not going to be able to fall asleep. But one of the biggest causes of poor sleep patterns is fear of the dark.

The human body requires 7-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to repair and rejuvenate for the next day. But people who are afraid of the dark are easily startled and even the slightest bit of noise brings them up out of the deeper stages of sleep, the most important arc in our sleep pattern.

Most people think that only adults suffer from sleep deprivation but it takes its toll on children, too. And if you don’t help your child overcome his fear of the dark he’ll grow up to be an adult who also sleeps poorly.

If you’re afraid of the dark, don’t worry. You’re not alone. If your child is also afraid, then here are some tips that might help both of you overcome your fears.

Don’t be ashamed: Don’t feel guilty or ashamed that you fear the dark, and don’t make your child feel that way either. Telling your child his fears are silly doesn’t do anything to eliminate the terror he feels each night and only makes him feel ashamed on top of everything else.

Listen to your child: Fear of the dark usually develops in children around the ages of 2 or 3. At that time they’re imaginations are developed enough that they can take all the scary things they see throughout the day and turn them into horrible monsters hiding under the bed. Unfortunately, they’re also too young to be able to distinguish the difference between something that’s real and something that’s imaginary.

Don’t share your bed: One of the worst things you can do is give in to your child’s fear and let him share your bed or sleep with a sibling. This only reinforces in your child’s mind that there really is something under the bed or in the closet.

Offer reassurance but don’t play games: Assure your child that you understand she’s afraid and tell her you’ll check on her as often as she likes. She may want you to peek in on her every 5 minutes in the beginning and that’s OK. But let her know you’re peeking in to see if she needs anything – not because you want to save her from a monster.

And please, don’t check under the bed every night and search through the closet to show her there’s no bogeyman in her room tonight. Again, that only reinforces her fears. If you must do a check, point out the things that are in her closet – her shoes, her clothes, her toys – and don’t mention what isn’t in there.

Bedtime should be quiet time: Get rid of the television and the books about witches and goblins and dragons. Even some of the cartoons on TV are scary to a 2-year old who can’t yet distinguish between real and imaginary.

Look for an underlying problem: With children and adults there may be an underlying problem that’s causing you to be afraid at night. Divorce, work stress, financial stress – these can play havoc on your own sleep patterns and your children can fell your distress, too.

If you developed a fear of the dark in childhood and you’ve been carrying it around all your life then there’s a good possibility you’ve passed that same fear on to your kids. Now, all of you are poor sleepers. To break the chain you may have to talk to a counselor yourself before you can help your children. If the problem persists for you children, then consult with your pediatrician.

This is a guest post. Donna Anderson is a freelance writer who enjoys small-town living in rural Kentucky. She’s an active member of several online communities and enjoys taking part in discussions that focus on how real people can live real lives in this fast-paced world we all live in.


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