Ever since we were young and left alone in our rooms at night, the darkness has held a deep sense of foreboding for us all. As we grow up, that fear lessens. But in the quiet of night when the world should be sleeping, even as adults there’s something in the back of our minds which tells us to be wary of what’s hiding in that dark. Here are 10 reasons to be scared of the dark.
1. Spindly legs
There are a number of human fears which seem to be built into us. Of course the fear of the dark is one of them, but another is fear of creeping insects, arachnids, and millipedes with their thousands of legs. But when both of these fears are combined, they can keep you up at night.
One reason for this is that insects do not fear us during the day when we can swat them, so why would they fear us when we lie asleep at night motionless? The truth is that they’re quite happy to crawl into our beds and then all over our sleeping bodies. Worse still, they can crawl up onto our faces and into our mouths. There are even recorded instances of cockroaches getting stuck in a sleeping person’s throat and even spiders crawling into the ear canal of an unsuspecting victim and laying eggs.
2. Shadow people
When we’re children, most of our fears surrounding nighttime are unfounded, especially when our parents are sleeping safely in a nearby room. However, this is not so for those who see shadow people in the darkness. Books have been written about this strange phenomena.
Thousands of people from around the world have experienced the same terrifying thing, they see walking humanoid shapes at night. They’re like three-dimensional shadows, partially transparent with no facial features. For the victims of these nightly visitations, the impression is given that the shadow people are observing them for some unknown reason. And when parents come running to answer their child’s screams, the menacing shadow disappears through floors, walls, or even rises up ominously through the ceiling above.
There are some people who have every reason to fear the oncoming night. These individuals suffer from a condition known as nyctophobia. But this goes way beyond casual unease as the sunsets. It’s actually accompanied by outright terror and depression. In some people, as it gets dark they begin to feel sick and lose the power to think rationally and even speak. What a person suffering from nyctophobia experiences differs on a case by case basis.
However, one shared symptom is that their minds populate any dark space with a horrifying dangerous presence. The fear this danger brings on is so paralyzing that some patients have to be heavily sedated whenever the sun dips in the sky. The most frightening thing about nyctophobia is that it starts off with a subtle fear of the dark like most people have before transforming into pure terror.
4. The forever winter
Whenever we feel frightened by the dark, the one thing that we can hold onto is that it will pass and the sun will rise, but what if it didn’t? One reason to be frightened of the dark is that one day it could rule the Earth and never give way to light. There are three ways that this could actually happen. If a large asteroid or comet collided with the Earth, then it would throw up so much debris into the sky that the sun would be blocked out for decades if not centuries.
Another eternal darkness could come about if a supervolcano erupted on Earth, spewing out debris in a similar manner. And if this sounds preposterous, this has actually happened before and in fact, we’re overdue for such an event. And lastly, if nuclear war occurred, the explosions could create so much dust and debris that the world would fall into a nuclear winter, trapped in darkness and cold, wiping out all life as we know it.
5. Unseen footsteps
If you follow paranormal investigation shows like Ghost Adventures, you’ll notice a trend. The paranormal activity becomes far more prominent when the lights go out. Parapsychologists who research poltergeists, hauntings, and other ghost-related phenomena argue that darkness is key to manifesting such entities.
The most common of these experiences, though, is the sound of footsteps walking across floorboards at night. When followed, no one can find any person there who’s making the sound. One of the most frightening paranormal experiences a person can have is when, lying in the darkness, they hear the slow, creaking footsteps of a ghostly entity not moving aimlessly around the house but walking towards the person lying in bed before a cold, icy hand touches them on the face.
Sleepwalking is a curious phenomenon which results in a person moving around in their sleep without realizing, usually when it’s dark. In some instances, this can be amusing, but in others, it can be outright terrifying. For the sleepwalker, there’s always the danger that they could fall down a flight of stairs or badly injure themselves or others.
For those witnessing the sleepwalking, in some instances, the sleepwalker can actually grow violent. In its most extreme forms, police have actually encountered homicidal sleepwalking. Brian Thomas, for example, tried to wake his wife after he had a bad dream but then realized he had acted out his nightmare with fatal consequences for his beloved partner. Most worrying, sleepwalking can strike at any age and can turn the peaceful silence of nighttime into a dangerous, threatening environment.
7. Hungry monsters
One of the theories behind our apprehension of the darkness is that it’s a genetic memory passed down over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. In many chapters of human history, the night was genuinely terrifying because large predatory animals could attack and eat a person and their family. If not animals, then we would have been attacked by competing human groups, with some believing controversially that the Netherlands were actually nocturnal and maybe the origin of our monster mythologies.
But, first of all, many of us possess Neanderthal genes which may explain predatory behavior. And second of all, in many places, there are still terrifying creatures, such as bears, lions, snakes, and wolves all capable of breaking into a house and feasting on those insides in the darkness.
8. Sleep paralysis
Imagine waking up in the dark to realize that you cannot move. You are completely helpless. But then you hear something next to you, and it moves slowly towards you and then sits on your chest, trying to stop you from breathing. When you open your eyes, you see what it is, an old hag grinning at you. That’s the experience of many who suffer from sleep paralysis.
The opposite of sleepwalking, occurs when we wake up and become conscious, but the mechanisms in our body which keep us still while we dream are in effect. There are some believe that the old hag, as she’s called, is a hallucination brought on by this waking dream state, but others posit a much more frightening explanation that the old hag is real. A malevolent spirit entity which paralyzes people in their sleep and tries to squeeze the life out of them.