Insomnia Study: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – It’s a popular child’s book and the culprit of many sleepless nights in elementary school. But a new study suggests being afraid of the dark could be keeping some adults from some much needed shut-eye!
60 million people in the U.S. suffer some kind of insomnia each year and researchers at the Ryerson University Sleep Depression & Lab in Toronto, Canada, found a dark-related phobia in some people could be the reason.
Researchers measured blink responses to sudden noise bursts in light and dark surroundings in a small sample of Toronto college students. Good sleepers became accustomed to the noise bursts but the poor sleepers grew more anticipatory when the lights were down. Nearly half of the students who reported having poor sleep also reported fear of the dark.
“The poor sleepers were more easily startled in the dark compared with the good sleepers," Taryn Moss, the study's lead author, was quoted as saying. "As treatment providers, we assume that poor sleepers become tense when the lights go out because they associate the bed with being unable to sleep. Now we're wondering how many people actually have an active and untreated phobia."
The most effective insomnia treatments encourage people to leave the dark bedroom and go into another lit room, however, this would not be a way to treat dark-related phobia. Researchers believe it’s necessary to add treatment components for these patients and adapt existing treatment components in light of the phobia.
"A lot more research is needed, but we believe we have stumbled across an unmet treatment need for some poor sleepers," Colleen Carney, PhD, the principal investigator, was quoted as saying.
Source: SLEEP 2012, the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS)