Can’t sleep because I’m afraid of the dark

Q:  For years I have had a phobia of the dark, and  I am terrified to sleep.  I work long hours and feel like I’m sleep deprived because of it.  What can I do?

A:  The fact that you recognize this is a phobia is a step in the right direction.

Many of us have fears of the dark, that’s not unusual.  The problem comes when we unwittingly allow ourselves to be controlled by these fears, and are then hurt in some way by that decision — even if it’s unintentional.

There are many effective ways to address phobias or irrational fears.  Many of them involve recognizing what is real and what is imagined.  In your case, you might start with the “worst case – most probable scenario” analysis.

To do this, you would first imagine every possible horrible thing that might happen to you in the dark while asleep. Sounds like you’ve already given that quite a bit of thought.  So OK, got that then.

Now, reality check those awful scenarios with what’s most likely.  Really, in all probability what do you think is most likely to happen to you tonight in the dark while you sleep?  Do you honestly think this most probable outcome will change whether or not you allow yourself to be terrified?  Be realistic in answering that.

If your conclusion is “absolutely nothing” will happen to me in all likelihood, then this suggests you can safely let these fears go.  The operative word here is safely.  You can let these fears go and still be safe.

The “worst case-most probable” analysis is just one method contained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for sleep.  A good CBT-based sleep training program will also help you create an optimal bedroom environment conducive to good sleep, help you control stress and anxiety, and much more.  If you also have some other overlapping issues that are disrupting your sleep, you likely will find CBT to be a comprehensive and effective solution.

A little exercise like worst case-most probable might make it a bit easier for you to just let these irrational fears and phobias go, even if it’s only for one night.  Because after all, it’s a choice.  You can choose to let them go.  Or not.  It’s up to you.

Explore posts in the same categories: Fear, Health, Insomnia, sleep

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One Comment on “Can’t sleep because I’m afraid of the dark”

  1. […] especially important to evaluate these thoughts for realistic accuracy.  You might use the “worst case/most probable scenario” analysis to judge whether or not these thoughts are overblown or something important to address.  This […]

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