Why you become more afraid at night

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Fears take different forms

For the first instance fear of the dark might seem like it makes a lot of sense. But as you think about it even more you will realize that this only made lots of sense to the caveman. Nowadays there isn't any risk of being eaten by a predator and the visibility at night is pretty good thanks to artificial light.

So if that's the case then why do many people become more afraid at night?

One of the facts few people know about irrational fears is that they are usually a representation of other fears that we can't really face.

When you become too afraid of a real threat that you can't face your mind might then help you release some of this suppressed fear by forcing you to develop an irrational fear.

In other words your fear of darkness can be nothing more than a fear of the future, fear of the unknown or a fear of loss of control. See This is where the ghosts in your house come from

Once you look at your irrational fears from this angle many of them are going to make lots of sense. It's much easier for the brain to release its fears by thinking of an object , such as a ghost, than to think of the unknown future or the scary past.

Why you become more afraid at night

But there is still an interesting question that needs an answer.
Why do you become more afraid at night where as those fears should always be there?
There are several reasons that explain this phenomenon. Here they are:

  • 1) Your conscious mind becomes weaker: During the morning your conscious mind filters away so many of the irrational things you think of including your fears. By the time the night comes and you feel sleepy your conscious mind is already exhausted and working with much less power. As the conscious mind becomes weaker the subconscious thoughts become stronger and stronger until you might feel terrified when the slightest noise happens
  • 2) Your brain detects more threats at night: According to a study the brain becomes more sensitive to threats at night than in the morning. This is more of a built in function in the human brain that can't be changed. With the increased threat sensitivity everything can seem more scary than it's really is. See How to experience less fear and anxiety in life
  • 3) Your brain was waiting for a reason: If you are already too afraid of the future or of anything else then your brain will be actively seeking all possible methods that can help you vent. Because the night seems suitable for your mind to release some of its fears it starts releasing them right away as soon as the night comes. See Why do some people see ghosts while others don't
  • 4) Bad past experiences: If a bad past experience happened to you in the dark then probably any dark place or even the night itself will remind you of this event (even on the unconscious level). Once the event pops up in your mind you will feel more afraid. See What causes fears and phobias

Are you already afraid?

If you have too many irrational fears or if you become extremely afraid at night then you need to find out the real fear that is behind your irrational fears.

Are you afraid of the future?
Are you afraid of being alone?
Are you afraid of losing control?
Are you afraid of the unknown?
Are you afraid of abandonment?

Once you know exactly what's that thing you are afraid of you will know what the next step should be.

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