You awaken with bated breath; heart racing, eyes darting in the dark. You slip your hand over to pull your phone from underneath the pillow. It beams at you.
It’s 3:33AM. An impending doom sits on your chest. Between the duvet and sheets, you gulp and stare dauntingly at the surrounding walls. Did they close in on me? Your eyes play tricks and the shadows on the wall make ghoulish shapes to mock you. The insomniac nights spent counting sheep to the ceiling has well-acquainted you with the bumps and cracks as constellations of your imagination. But tonight, the ceilings look a little lower, and the walls feel a little closer to you; familiarity does little to bring you much-needed comfort in such times of distress.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It’s 3:35AM. All you really want is go back to sleep without this crippling fear of monsters hiding under your bed. Is that too much to ask for?
As night approaches, most of us embrace the downtime, grateful in our hearts for another day’s end. But for 10% of adults, sleep is literally the opposite of soothing and tranquil. As the sun dips below the horizon and the moon hangs high, they’re on edge. The irrational fear of Slender Man in the hallway keeps them up all night.
While it’s easy to laugh it all off and pin it on sheer cowardice, perhaps even childishness or having an overactive fantasy, you might be surprised to learn that this fear of darkness is not entirely unfounded or illogical. In fact, it’s biological.
All About Darkness
Through History and Folklore
You see, at some point in history, the ancients associated the darkness of night with looming terror. The night presided an unspoken force of power and magic over them. It’s not hard to imagine why they held such deep reverence for the night. After all, if you can’t control it, you give in to it, especially if it’s a natural, nightly occurrence you have to live with.
For the ancients back then, low light also meant an increased risk of danger. By the wavering flame of their fire, they barely know what’s out there until it’s too late. In current times, we may find that hardly relatable. Though tall tales and scary movies continue to frighten us, we’re pretty out of harm’s way as compared to our ancestors who had to fend wild animals and savages off their territories after dark.
It’s also no surprise that the infamous lore of the Witching Hour for spiritual practices, dark rituals and other activities usually happen between three to four in the morning when the night is blackest then. Some believe it to be the time of night when the veil between realms is thinnest, allowing spirits to pass between two worlds. Others believe that dark forces are most potent at this time of night. While it’s hard to say what’s real when it comes to age-old folklore, we’ve a hunch rarely anything good happens at 3AM. So next time you feel that slight uneasiness when you glare into the deep abyss of darkness, know that it’s totally normal – it’s actually ingrained in us.
The Power of Darkness
Circadian rhythm. Bet you’ve heard the term before, but apart from sounding totally mythological, what’s it really and how does darkness influence sleep?
For starters, every living being has a circadian rhythm. Don’t confuse it with the biological clock – it’s different. Circadian rhythm governs the physical, mental and behavioural patterns we follow like clockwork each day. While the rhythm may skip a beat at times, it’s always working on a 24-hour cycle more or less.
On the flipside, a biological clock is what creates our circadian rhythm. It’s all neurological – made up of special proteins and found in every tissue and organ, our biological clock informs our internal timing to follow a specific tempo (circadian rhythm). Think of it as a master clock keeping our bodily systems ticking well.
As it turns out, having a balanced circadian rhythm has everything to do with good sleep. And the key to a deep, restorative slumber? Well, to the utter dismay of the nyctophobic, you guessed it.
How to Get Better Sleep
As light penetrates and destroys vitality, darkness incubates and nurtures growth and repair. The same reason why eggs only develop and hatch in the absence of light, is the very one we ought to respect to making the best of our beauty sleep.
Having said that, striving to get better rest in an era where exhaustion is glorified can sometimes feel counterintuitive. Sensory input from our surrounding can thwart our biological clock and change it. Think of it in the context of how the daily activities of diurnal beings like us compare with nocturnal creatures like owls. As it is, external cues such as blue-light from savvy screens can really disrupt our internal clocks. This day-night/light-dark routine is responsible for the release of melatonin – the “darkness” or sleep hormone that signals the mind and body to relax into a deep sleep. That’s why, when we expose ourselves to screen time past bedtime, we delay this release and disturb our nightly rest.
But Let There Be Light When You Need It
The hard and fast answer to how we can all get better sleep quality is to recreate the circumstances in which the ancients would have slept – in total darkness. But we know that’s not very likely, given our modern distractions such as mobile phones and handy tablets. It certainly doesn’t help those with insomnia or nyctophobia to have a vivid imagination and wild mind chatter that ramps up only at night, either.
But – fear the dark no more, for this week’s fresh drop online will bring you new light like no other.
Introducing IUIGA’s Motion Sensor Lights
IUIGA launches thoughtful products regularly to elevate your home and lifestyle. This week, our SmartLite LED Motion Sensor Lights in Warm White and Cool White will have you basking in a glorious glow at any time of day (or night).
Cast shadows out with a simple wave – the SmartLite function will detect your SOS within a five metres radius. If you’re scarred for life by the jump-scares in horror movies like us, simply line these sweet beacons of hope along your hallway. They’re sure to light up your path to the bathroom past midnight.
If the Boogeyman hiding behind your door is your greatest nightmare, our Motion Sensor Lights double up as a clothing rack that you can attach securely on doors or walls. And for weary moms and clumsy dads who wake in the middle of the night to feed, let our SmartLite be your source of comfort in navigating new parenthood. Worried about waking baby? That’s a non-issue. Powered by LED 0.7W bulbs, these lights are functional for everyday use and gentle on sensitive, sleepy eyes.
This April, we’re intrigued by all-things related to sleep. Whether they’re about dreams and meanings, bedtime practices to induce sleepy times, or decoding sleeping positions and personalities, we want to learn it all. I mean, if we’re sleeping one-third of our lives, wouldn’t it make sense to understand it better?
- Sleep 101: Dreams & Good-Night Rituals
- Sleep 101: What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Personality
And if you’re new to the blog, welcome – you’ve found us. As a gift, use the code BLOG5 for your first purchase and #treatyourself. We offer speedy next-day delivery.