Being afraid of the dark represents a common human experience, probably rooted in our evolutionary past and the reality of predators roaming in the night. Many children pass through the phase of needing the support of a night light and even some checking under the bed before they can learn to be comfortable in darkness.
Even though the blue lights of charging electronic devices and televisions left on all night can interrupt a good night’s sleep, for some adults they are a tradeoff for feeling less “darkness anxiety” at night. When the level of anxiety causes ongoing physical and psychological distress and starts interfering with normal living, fear becomes phobic (nyctophobia). Some problem solving in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful in addressing this very treatable condition. By reframing darkness as a predictable and reliable pattern of reality in our universe we can give positive meaning and comfort to being without light. Thinking of rebooting our brains by lessening the energy we must use to see can help us to look forward to the guidance of darkness.
As with many fears, the secret is to lean in to them. Our fears, when looked in the face, especially with the support of another, begin to diminish and become a challenge and an opportunity instead of a threat. That must have been the idea behind FDR’s words “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Peace and fearlessness are possible, even in the midst of many “dangers, toils, and snares,” when we find the courage to open our eyes and look into darkness, rather than recoil from it. Unlearning fear of darkness gives us a type of night vision that relies less on outer appearances and more on understanding.