Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Why am I always so paranoid at night? We are going to explore what is nyctophobia, what are its main symptoms to be able to identify it and what methods and strategies can we use to overcome it.

Why am I always so paranoid at night and what is nyctophobia? 

Feeling afraid is a natural response of our body to certain situations, such as being totally dark in the middle of the night. If fear only occurs in situations that are really dangerous it does not have to be a negative thing. 

The problem begins when this response is given by a danger that is in our head and affects our daily activities, such as when we are afraid of imaginary dangers that stalk us in the dark. Sometimes these irrational fears can even cause insomnia. 

Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

Symptoms of nyctophobia

Nyctophobia is a phobia characterized by an irrational fear of the night or the dark. This exaggerated fear is caused by a distorted perception of reality since the one who suffers it imagines negative things that could happen to him in the dark and feels intense anxiety when faced with the feeling of being alone in the dark. 

When this fear is intense, those affected may experience nausea, extreme sweating, trembling and shaking, an urge to vomit, increased heart rate and mental block.

As is often the case with phobias, when a nyctophobic is afraid, he may lose his control over reality, frightening himself in strange ways that he sees in his room and exaggerating his fears, so that he cannot face situations that normally do not frighten him.

Although there are also cases of adults with nyctophobia, the phobia of the dark usually occurs during childhood since from 7 years this and other common fears in childhood gradually disappear because we get new psychological tools to face our fears and we begin to think that the phenomena and objects that made us fear are not dangerous anymore.

Recognizing the symptoms of nyctophobia in adults is straightforward, but for children, it’s hard to tell if it’s a real phobia or a way to get attention. It may be that instead of being afraid of the dark, the child simply has nightmares or has experienced something recently that has made him feel uneasy. 

When children have a true phobia of the dark, they may ascribe their fears to a certain object or noise, or even not know why they feel this way. Regarding the psychological part, the child will present cardiac acceleration, sweats, and other of the symptoms that we have described. If it were a nightmare these symptoms would not be so marked and the child would recover from them more quickly.

Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

7 Tips to overcome nyctophobia

We already explained how to help children overcome the fear of the dark, so we are going to focus on some strategies to get adults to avoid night fears:

  1. For starters, try to avoid naps in the middle of the day. If nyctophobia affects your sleep times, you will probably feel like sleeping in the afternoon, but if you take a nap too long, you will have more difficulty falling asleep at night. Also if you are tired you will have less time and energy to turn your night fears.
  1. If you feel very stressed or anxious because of your nyctophobia, you can try some breathing exercises to relax and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing expands your lungs and abdomen, promoting oxygen exchange throughout the body and stabilizing blood pressure. 

To do these exercises sit in a comfortable posture and close your eyes, then take a deep breath for 5 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 more seconds and then release the air for another 5 seconds. Repeat this several times until you feel less anxious.

  1. Like breathing exercises, meditation can also help you feel more relaxed and forget your fears, we recommend doing it an hour before going to sleep. To meditate sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. 

Think about the present and relax your body while you feel each breath, remove all negative and stressful thoughts from your mind focusing only on your breathing. At first, it may be difficult to keep your mind from focusing on your fears, but over time it will be easier for you to push these thoughts away.

  1. In the event that your fear of the night is caused by you not feeling safe, you can believe that someone is going to break into your house without being seen, try to create a safer home to calm down. You can install an alarm or a security lock, put curtains on the windows to have more privacy or have an object near your bed to protect you. 

Avoid having something that could hurt yourself or others, it is enough to have the mobile phone near your nightstand, to be able to ask for help in the event that something happens to you during the night. Don’t make security an obsession either, this will only increase your fears and make you paranoid.

Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)
  1. A healthy dose of distraction can also be a good way to deal with your fears. It must be a distraction enough to capture your attention and emotions, but it should not put you in a state of hyperactivity or overexcitation, since that way you will not be able to fall asleep either.

 You can try reading a book (as long as it’s not scary) to stay focused on its story and not think about your fears. Avoid using your computer or smartphone when you are in bed, as this could cause technological insomnia. You can still relax with these devices for a while before going to sleep.

  1. Think positively, remember all the good things in your life like your family and friends, and refuse to think negative things. If you notice that you are getting carried away by fear, you can try to stop doing it and think logically. 

For example: if you hear some strange noise in the middle of the night, it does not have to be a thief or someone who has broken into your house, it is most likely that the noise is coming from one of the neighbouring floors, that it has been the wind, or even that the pipes of the building squeak.

  1. To finish, don’t forget to ask for support if you need it: The first thing is to seek the help of a specialist. Having someone you trust in your own home can be a relief. 

However, what can really help you to progress with this problem is the help of a psychologist who evaluates your specific case and performs an individualized intervention. Currently, there are several ways to approach treatment for nyctophobia and, with a little effort, it can be overcome.

Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

Treatment for nyctophobia

Mild nyctophobia can be overcome without treatment. However, in more severe or persistent cases, this step should be taken. The most common forms of treatment to treat this disorder are:

  • Immersion or implosive therapy that consists of exposing the patient to a dark environment so that she uses relaxation and control techniques and manages to overcome her fears. In the event that the subject fails to control her phobia after undergoing this treatment, the therapy may be traumatic and cause her fears to worsen. For these reasons, this technique is not usually used, although in many cases it has been shown to be effective.
  • The desensitization or behavioural therapy of desensitization consists of exposing the patient to a relaxed environment in which she is exposed in a slow and controlled way to her phobia. 

This therapy requires creating a gradual series of situations that cause anxiety to the patient, can be practised in the imagination or in real life. It is necessary for the patient to relax in each situation and master it before moving on to the next.

  • In the most severe cases, these two forms of therapy can be enhanced with psychotherapeutic treatment and some drugs.
Why am I always so paranoid at night? (7 tips to overcome nyctophobia)

FAQ on Why am I always so paranoid at night

How do I stop being so paranoid?

To stop being paranoid, it is better to consult a mental health professional to get properly assessed, first. Do not self-diagnose and do not self medicate. Besides that, take better care of what you are eating and how you are sleeping. By taking care of your body, you are also taking care of your mind and thoughts. 

Why have I been so paranoid lately?

It is possible that you have been feeling more paranoid lately because you are going through a more stressful, even traumatic situation. You may be upset, under high-stress or suffering from anxiety. Paranoia is a symptom of some mental health problems.

Is being paranoid normal?

Generally speaking, being paranoid is something we all have experienced at one time in our lives. Either because we were under high-stress, dealing with trust and commitment issues. However, if you are experiencing an unrealistic or exaggerated belief that other people mean you harm on a daily basis, it is a sign that something more is going on. 

Does paranoia go away?

Paranoia can go away once the stressful situation you are going through will pass. However, paranoia is a symptom of some mental health problems. If you are experiencing an unrealistic or exaggerated belief that other people mean you harm on a daily basis, you should consult a mental health professional.

What triggers paranoia?

There are many situations that can trigger paranoia. They are usually associated with past traumas. For example, a person who was once cheated on may become paranoiac in his new relationship when he’s new partner does not answer the phone. 

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Why am I always so paranoid at night? We explored what is nyctophobia, what are its main symptoms to be able to identify it and what methods and strategies can we use to overcome it.

Feeling afraid is a natural response of our body to certain situations, such as being totally dark in the middle of the night. If fear only occurs in situations that are really dangerous it does not have to be a negative thing. 

Mild nyctophobia can be overcome without treatment. However, in more severe or persistent cases, this step should be taken into consideration.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

Recommendations

Overcoming Fear and Failure: A practical guide for women who overthink, overanalyze and are overly analytical, by Kiran Bedi 

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action, by Susan Jeffers

Overcoming Your Child’s Fears and Worries: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (Overcoming Books), by Cathy Creswell  

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: A Practical Guide to Retraining Your Brain, Overcoming Anxiety, Depression, and Fear, by STEVE BRAIN  

Overcoming Fear: The Supernatural Strategy to Live in Freedom, by De Silva 

References

Psychology.wikia.org – Implosive therapy

Healthline.com – What Is Nyctophobia and How Is It Treated?

Medicalnewstoday.com – What to know about nyctophobia

Verywellmind.com -Symptoms and Treatment of Nyctophobia (Fear of the Dark)

Nadejda Romanciuc

Nadejda Romanciuc holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a diploma in Addiction studies. She is part of the Romanian Association of Integrative Psychotherapy as a psychotherapist under supervision. She's practicing online counselling for over two years and is a strong advocate for mental health.