Nyctophobia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

The nyctophobia (fear of darkness) is an anxiety disorder, specifically a type of specific phobia in the night or dark fears.

The phobia is a disorder characterized by the presence of clinically significant anxiety in response to exposure to specific situations or objects.


Thus, Nicotophobia is a disorder that is characterized by the presence of clinically significant anxiety that is produced by situations in which it is at night, it is dark or there is not enough illumination.

The fear or anxiety that occurs in these situations is disproportionate, maladaptive and the person who suffers Nicotophobia is not able to explain their fear in a rational way.

In addition, this problem is usually very disabling since the anxiety usually causes an automatic avoidance of the dreaded situation.

And is that if a person with Nictophobia is exposed to the dreaded situation without avoiding it will immediately present a response of anxiety, fear or crisis of distress.

Therefore, it will systematically avoid situations in which there is no light or it is very dark so as not to present anxiety.

However, as darkness becomes dark and situations in which there is no light are practically unavoidable, a person with Nicotrophobia will often present anxiety states.

This anxiety will cause you much discomfort and will prevent you from living in a calm and satisfying way.

But quiet! Nicotrophobia is a problem that can be managed and can be overcome if the relevant actions are carried out and the effort is invested in achieving this.

How to overcome nicotophobia

  1. Do not settle for your fear

The first step in overcoming the fear of the dark is to realize that this is not rational and that it does not make any sense to stick with it.

It is very probable that you already know perfectly well that your fear is irrational and disproportionate but it is not to know it but to be convinced.

You can think very often that your fear does not make any sense, that others do not happen to them and that the normal thing would be not to have it, but still you are unable to  control your phobia when the light disappears …

Well, let’s work so your rational brain, which works perfectly and detects the fear of the dark as disproportionate, will win the game to your emotional brain that invades your body with anxiety whenever you are in the dark.

The goal is to be able to control your emotions when fear takes over you.

For this, what you have to do is constantly test the idea you have about the darkness.

Make a list of all the evidence you have against the phobia, for example:

  • What reason do I have to be afraid of the dark?
  • Has the dark ever damaged me?
  • Why people are during the night in the dark and nothing happens to them?
  • Is the dark a threat to me?

Ask questions like these to get rational ideas about the dark that are incompatible with your phobia.

The goal is to make a list as long as you can that helps you to think rationally about the darkness.

  1. Look for your main support

Once you are clear that your fear of the dark is irrational and that you must change it, it is convenient that you look for those people closest to you who want to help you overcome the Nicotrophobia.

If you have people by your side who help you calm down when you are in the dark, collaborate with you to identify the phobia as irrational, and you throw a  cable to fulfill the 10 steps you will have to follow, everything will be simpler.

It is advisable that the people who are going to help also document what Nicotophobia is and how it can be treated.

If they do they will be able to help you in a more appropriate way, they will know better how to fight your idea of ​​fear about the darkness and will understand better the reason of your fears.

  1. Give rest to your body

Another thing that you have to do for your well-being and to be in better situation to fight your Nicotrophobia is to give rest to your body.

People who are afraid of the dark and are accustomed to sleep with light to avoid the dreaded situation, tend to feel tired and exhausted since  their rest, lacking in darkness, is much less refreshing.

And that sleeping with darkness and adequate rest is of vital importance for our well-being.

In order to give you the rest you need and eliminate the light while you sleep you can introduce in your bedroom a type of light that allows you to scale its intensity, so that when you sleep you reduce it to the maximum you can.

  1. Get Acquainted Gradually

Likewise, the previous exercise should also serve you to get accustomed to the darkness gradually.

To do this, the most practical is to gradually remove the luminosity of your house. For example, by decreasing the light intensity of corridors and rooms.

The most useful thing of this technique is that it allows you to go exposing yourself very little by little to the darkness without you feeling to hardly discomfort.

And if you lock yourself in a room that is totally dark, your anxiety will suddenly appear, fear will take over you, and surely you will run out of it since the discomfort you feel will be unbearable for you.

However, if this afternoon when you return from work the light bulbs in your house are of an intensity a little lower than usual, you may not notice or can handle it without problem.

Keep this illumination and after a few days again lighten the light slightly. You see doing this exercise periodically so that your habituation to the dark is gradual.

It is advisable that the change of the intensity of illumination is done by your family since this way you will be less aware of the new situation and you will get used to it more easily.

  1. Imagine the darkness

The next step you will have to do is exposing yourself to the dark but not directly, but with your imagination.

By doing this, the anxiety you feel will be less intense and you will be able to control it more easily.

To do this lie in bed or somewhere where you are comfortable and relaxed, close your eyes and begin to imagine situations of darkness.

Feel as you begin to notice that anxiety appears but at the same time you see remembering the thoughts about the irrationality of that fear in order to manage it.

Also Read: Anxiolytic: Names and 5 Most Common

Perform this exercise whenever you can to approach the darkness and overcome your fear.

  1. Stay in dark places

Once you are able to properly perform exposure to the dark through imagination you will be prepared to expose yourself live.

In this case consists of controlled situations, stay in dark places and try to control your anxiety.

To do this chooses a site known to you and to transmit security, such as a room in your house.

Close the blinds and lights so that the darkness is total or almost total, and try to stay in that situation for as long as possible.

When you enter the dark space anxiety will begin to manifest, but your goal is to try to control it by repeating words that produce peace and reinforce the idea that your fear is irrational, for example:

  • “There is no real threat in this situation.”
  • “I’m in a dark place but nothing is going to happen to me.”
  • “It does not make sense that I’m nervous because nothing’s going wrong.”
  • “The room is the same as this morning; the only thing that changes is that there is no light.”
  1. Relax

As the main symptom of your problem is anxiety is essential to know how to relax.

Perform relaxation exercises daily and above all before exposure practices so that when you are in dark situations, you are more relaxed and your anxiety does not appear so easily.

One very useful exercise you can do is the following.

  1. Breathe deeply with the diaphragm, noticing how the air enters and leaves your belly.
  2. In every inspiration you make, repeat a word or phrase that conveys tranquility like “everything is going well” or “I am calm”.
  3. At the same time, imagine a landscape that transmits calm and serenity
  4. If you want, you can play back some relaxation song with the low volume.

Perform this exercise for about 10-15 minutes.

  1. Make a behavioral contract

To strengthen the previous steps it is very useful to make a behavioral contract. The behavioral contract, as its name indicates, is a contract that will specify your behavior regarding Nicotrophobia.

However, like all contracts, you must do it with someone; you cannot make a contract to yourself.

So, choose one of the people you chose in point two to help you through the process to overcome the Nicotrophobia, and make the contract with her.

In the behavior contract you can specify anything, but the ones that are usually more useful are the following.

  • The intensity of light of the rooms of the house: For example during the first week will have intensity 4, during the second week
  • Intensity 3, during the third and fourth intensity 2, etc.
  • The intensity of the light with which you sleep (in the same way as the previous step).
  • The number of imagining exercises you will do for a week.
  • The number of live shows you will do for a week.

You must agree between the two all these aspects, write them and sign them so that, later, you will fulfill them all.

This will strengthen your commitment and motivation.

  1. Look for positive emotions

An effective technique for anxiety not to appear when you are in the dark is to try to appear other types of emotions.

To look for those positive emotions, what you have to do is very simple: to do things or to look for stimuli that are pleasing to you.

So you can listen to music that you like while you are in a dark place and look for the positive emotions that that song conveys to you.

You can also be in the dark (or semi dark) while talking to a family member or friend, while watching your favorite TV series or reading a book.

The goal is to be able to not pay attention to the dark and focus on the other stimuli that give you positive emotions.

  1. Change your idea of ​​darkness

Finally, the ultimate goal that you must achieve with all of the above steps is to change your idea about the darkness.

You have imagined dark situations and you have managed to control your anxiety, you have been in places without light and nothing bad has happened to you, you have managed to feel positive emotions when there was no luminosity and you believe more and more that it does not make sense to have this fear.

So, you have to do a new @nalysis exercise about what darkness is and realize that you do not have to be afraid of it, since it is something totally normal.