Trouble Sleeping? Why Your Insomnia May Mean You're Afraid of the Dark
Remember the days of night lights, the Boogeyman and sneaking into your parent's bedroom because you were afraid of something lurking in your closet? You may think you grew out of that behavior, but a new study conducted by Ryerson University in Toronto has found that may not be the case. The results, released Monday, found that the real cause behind insomnia may be due to a fear of the dark.
After studying the sleeping habits of 93 undergraduates, they found 46 percent of "poor" sleepers and 26 percent of "healthy" sleepers all exhibited signs of being afraid of the dark.
Particpants were placed in a room wearing headphones. Periodically, flashes of white noise were played in the headphones. With the lights on, both poor and healthy sleepers reacted the same, but with the lights off, poor sleepers were startled and blinked more frequently. The group of healthy sleepers became more comfortable with the darkness over time, whereas, the poor sleepers became increasingly more afraid as time went on.
Now before you get all defensive, do you sleep with the TV on? Or leave your computer screen on long enough before you fall asleep? While many adults may not want to admit their "fear", it is common for many people to leave one or more sources of light on before nodding off. It's a natural response, according to study researcher Colleen Carney, because we are not night creatures.
Insomnia May Be More Common Than You Think
About 30-40 percent of Americans report symptoms of insomnia each year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research. Though there are a variety of causes of insomnia - restless leg syndrome, heartburn, frequent urination, sleep apnea, stress, controlled substances, etc. - not all cases can be treated. New studies like this can help shed a light on a deeper cause for some insomnia sufferers.
So go ahead, turn on that night light! There's no shame in it - you may just have the best night's sleep you've had in awhile.
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