The Nightmares that Lurk in the Dark

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. It’s 3 hours after Mommy and Daddy put me to bed, yet my eyes linger from the lack of sleep. The sweat of fear trickled across my face. I can sense the protruding eyes of something hidden amongst the shadows of my room fixated to the blankets covering me. It’s in my room, I just know it. Mommy… Daddy… why is your room so far away. I want to get to you but if I escape these heavy blankets masking me from the monster, I might not be able to run away in time before it snatches me. 

Vast darkness can create the fear of not being aware of your current surroundings, which is also known as nyctophobia. Similar to many children, I always struggled with lacking sleep as a kid because of the imagined dangers that lurked in my dimmed room. My body would be restless and my eyes were droopy from my intense fears and being awake for so many hours. 

People often come up with irrational perceptions of the dark which leads to such fears, especially in the perspective of young, naive children. Our minds can be so cruel, yet creative in a way when coming up with these misconfigured perceptions. Growing up I would create some of the most bizarre, ridiculous fears that haunted my dreams and made me enslaved to this lack of sleep and restlessness. From being scared of characters in movies, games, TV shows, fictional monsters, and creatures, there’s so much media in this world that influenced my phobias. With “so much going on” in media and “so many things to react to” in the scarce visibility of the dark, your mind “got this chance to… be creative” when developing fears. 

All the childhood fears I had that occurred in the dark were all so random, or irrational, to the point where I feel foolish and ashamed being scared of them as a kid. After seeing the movie, Coraline, the dolls from Coraline and the Other Mother traumatized me into believing that the Other Mother was capable of watching me by seeing through the eyes of my dolls and stuffed animals. I would persuade myself into thinking that I saw my dolls and stuffed animals adjust their heads in the night to look at me so that the Other Mother was able to watch me sleep. Because in the game, Five Nights at Freddy, the animatronics, which is robotic puppets, would jump scare you from the vents of the Pizzeria, I would think that I saw the Marionette doll in my bedroom vent ready to kill me at any moment. Whenever I heard the sounds of planes flying by I assumed that there was a UFO passing by, searching to abduct me into their ships. The most embarrassing fears I grew up with are my fear of triangles and going to the bathroom at night. In the show, Gravity Falls, I had a fear of Bill Cipher, the dream demon in the shape of a triangle, representing the Illuminati. Because he was implemented and referenced in Gravity Falls and many other shows as hidden easter eggs, I had the false sense that Bill Cipher would be secretly hidden in the dark like easter eggs in the shows. I would often mistake triangle-shaped objects or patterns that were hard to see in my darkened bedroom as Bill Cipher. As a kid, I always believed that there was a vampire that lived in my bathroom at night. So I would prevent myself from ever using the bathroom in the middle of the night, scared that the vampire would suck out all the blood when I was using the bathroom.

It was an ongoing event where my mind would constantly start “noticing and seeing” every particular sound and object in my dimmed bedroom. Any sound I heard or unfamiliar objects I saw were “vague warnings of doom” that something unidentified would be hiding in my room. I would be distressed and alert at night, ultimately enabling me to fall asleep. However, it is essential for people to get lots of quality sleep, especially for children still growing. For me to “Minimize stress… to reduce restlessness,” I would gravitate to sneaking into my parents’ room to get a sense of comfort and protection from the monsters in the dark. In the middle of the night, I would be waking up my dad and ask him if I can sleep with him and my mom. However, when I wake up my mom to ask, she would be irritated and say “no,” which is understandable because if someone were to wake me up from a good dream, I would be upset too. Sometimes I would sleep on the floor and cuddle with my dog, Creamie, whenever I couldn’t sneak into my parents’ bedroom.

Some other ways to help you fall asleep at night is to rationalize your fear by asking yourself, “Why am I scared? Should I be scared? Is the thing I am scared of something from reality? Is it physically possible for the thing that I am scared of to harm me at night?” In addition, you can try to calm yourself by doing breathing techniques, hugging a stuffed animal for a sense of security, or having a night light on so you can be able to see in the dark. But no matter what age you are, it is normal for people to have nyctophobia and it’s ok to be scared of the dark. Just know that you can overcome this fear!

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