Nyctophobia: What it is And How To Overcome It

A young girl suffering from nyctophobia pulls her duvet up under her chin.


Whether its yourself or your child who suffers from nyctophobia, it can be a really difficult thing to deal with. If you know the feelings of dread and anxiety which flood over you when the sun starts to set in the evening, or when your bedroom light gets turned off. Or if you have seen this behaviour in your children. Then carry on reading and this blog may have some answers.

Nyctophobia is an extreme and overwhelming fear of the dark. Although fear of the dark is fairly common in children and they usually out grow it. It can persist and start to cause problems for the sufferer. There are many ways to overcome nyctophobia, ranging from therapies like CBT or Exposure therapy. Or by simply illuminating the room a little with a physical night light or a night light app on a phone or tablet.

What is Nyctophobia?

Nyctophobia is an extreme fear of the dark.  It is also known as scotophobia, night fright, or simply fear of the dark.

Being afraid of the dark is quite common in children, with many of them growing out of their fear before adulthood. However, in some cases the symptoms can worsen over time, with some people experiencing a fear of the dark throughout their life.

Nyctophobia can also occur in adulthood, but it seldom affects children who are under two years old.

The name comes from the Greek word for night, and the word phobia which has roots in greek/latin.

What are the causes of nyctophobia?

Fear of the dark is so common in humans that it probably has some evolutionary reasons behind it from when our ancestors slept outside on the open plains where predators roamed at night. It would have been vital for their survival to remained alert and aware.

For children, it can also be a fear of what they cannot see. Strange noises in the dark are easily transformed to burglars creeping in the darkness, or monsters prowling about.

Nyctophobia can also sometimes be caused by traumatic events which the sufferer experienced, even if they didn’t happen in the dark.

What are the symptoms of nyctophobia?

There are many symptoms associated with nyctophobia, both physical and mental. Here are a list of some of the more common ones.

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Dry mouth/difficulty swallowing
  • Feelings of dread and panic attacks
  • Inability to sleep

Unfortunately being unable to sleep has a really detrimental effect on anyone. It can lead to the sufferer becoming grumpy and irritable, as well as leading to lack of concentration. Prolonged suffering can seriously effect the mental well being of the sufferer.

How can I get rid of nyctophobia?

A list of cures and treatments including using a night light! – delete this line when done

Fortunately for those who suffer from this ailment, help is at hand!

It has been successfully treated using a variety of therapies, including CBT, Hypnotherapy and Exposure Therapy. Talk to your Doctor or Therapist about which would be best for you.

It has also been helped by practicing relaxation techniques or meditating to calm yourself down when in a darker room.

Using a night light, like Loomy Night Light, can help as it provides a gentle reassuring light, and it also can play soothing ambient sounds as well. These help give the mind something to focus on instead of the darkness.