There are a number of possible reasons for your inability to sleep. You may have too much on your mind, you may be stressed out, or perhaps your neighbors are simply making too much of a racket in the middle of the night. However, a new study presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies Annual Meeting in Boston is proposing an entirely different cause for your insomnia. According to the researchers, fear of the dark may be keeping you and countless other night owls awake.

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Researchers at the Ryerson University Sleep and Depression Lab in Toronto decided to test this theory by subjecting college students to loud noises in both light and dark settings. By measuring their blink response, researchers found that good sleepers learned to get through the noise while poor sleepers anticipated it once the lights were out.

"The poor sleepers were more easily startled in the dark compared with the good sleepers," says study author Taryn Moss in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine." 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."

If you have trouble sleeping though and have exhausted all expected options, it may not be such a bad idea to consider a fear of the dark as a possible cause. Try to talk this over with your doctor and see what treatments you can undertake to help you get a good night’s sleep.


(Photo by rachel a. k. via Flickr Creative Commons)

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