One in four adults still sleep with the light on in addition to holding onto other childhood fears, according to a new study. We look at why freelancers could be more affected by their fear of the dark than others and how they can stop running upstairs like ninjas when things go bump in the night
As a freelancer, you’re already navigating the unknown: finding clients, managing deadlines, and staying motivated. But what if one of your biggest fears isn’t a missed deadline, but the one that has lingered from childhood: the dark? New research shows that over half of adults still harbour childhood anxieties about the dark, and freelancers, with their flexible schedules, late nights filing deadlines and often solitary work environments, might be particularly susceptible.
A study by Netflix (yes, the streaming giant of all things spooky) reveals that millions of adults are still clinging to their childhood anxieties. We’re talking about running upstairs like ninjas when the lights are off (19%), refusing to let our feet escape the duvet’s warm embrace (18%), and even needing a phone flashlight escort for bathroom trips (15%). Apparently, adulthood doesn’t come with built-in nightlights.
- 18% of us are convinced a monster will snatch our feet if they dare peek out from under the duvet. When was the last time you saw your childhood monster? He’s probably aged over the past 20 years, just like the rest of us, so he won’t be so quick to getcha!
- 15% refuse to go to the toilet in the dark, even if nature is calling. Talk about a recipe for bladder distress. Goes to show nightlight sales are not just for the kiddies or the elderly.
- 27% of Brits sleep with the landing light on, creating the ambience of a perpetual airport runway. This could explain the sudden urge to book a spontaneous flight to somewhere sunny at 3 am. But seriously though, all that light is probably wreaking havoc on your health and sleep. A 2019 study found that exposure to even dim light at night suppressed melatonin production by 50% compared to complete darkness.
- Modern adults (18-29 year olds) have the most nightmares, with an average of six per month. So, next time your friend sleep-talks about giant spiders, remember, they’re probably just reliving that time they saw “Arachnophobia” as a kid. If that evil teacher from secondary school makes an unwelcome visit in your dreams be reassured that she won’t be rocking up to your house anytime soon – it’s just a goofy dream.
Why are we still scardey-cats?
It’s all thanks to our inner child, that persistent little gremlin who never got the memo about growing up. It seems our childhood fears, fueled by creepy bedtime stories and overactive imaginations, can stick with us like bad glitter. Our brains, in their infinite wisdom, associate darkness with a lack of control, turning shadows into lurking monsters and creaking pipes into ghosts throwing epic parties and sing-a-longs.
But fear not, there’s a light at the end of the hall. The study also found that facing these fears is actually crucial for your peace of mind and well-being. And hey, on the bright side, those who are afraid of the dark tend to be more creative, sensitive, and even sensual. So, while you might be hiding under the covers during thunderstorms, at least you can blame it on your artistic temperament.
The bottom line? We’re all a little bit scared of the dark sometimes. But by acknowledging these fears, maybe even laughing at them (seriously, imagine a monster trying to steal your sock), we can take back control and stop letting them rule our sleep schedules (and bathroom habits). So, go ahead, crank up the spooky movie marathon, embrace your inner child, and remember, the only monster under your bed is probably your laundry pile.
Tips to help you get over your nighttime fears
Facing the Shadows
Don’t run: While the primal instinct might be to bolt upstairs when the lights go out, consider facing your fears gradually. Start with dimming the lights instead of switching them off completely. Read a book with a low-watt lamp or spend a few minutes meditating or listening to a soothing sleep meditation video in the dark.
Befriend the dark
Turn the darkness into an asset. Use it for brainstorming sessions, free from distractions. Experiment with blackout curtains and noise-cancelling headphones to create a truly immersive environment.
Embrace the light
If complete darkness is too much, use warm-toned lighting, string fairy lights or invest in a Himalayan salt lamp for a calming ambience.
Taming the Nightmares
Schedule your sleep. Freelancers often have unconventional schedules, but try to establish a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, even on weekends. Write down anything on your mind on a pad of paper next to your bed. Get it out of your head and on paper so you can deal with things tomorrow.
Wind down before bed
Avoid stimulating activities like watching TV or scrolling through social media close to bedtime. Relaxing activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or gentle stretching can promote better sleep. If you absolutely cannot live without your mobile, use it for good by plugging in some earphones and falling asleep to a sleep hypnotherapy audio or video session. If something is truly making you lose sleep, then write it down or break it down on a pad of paper and cross out all the aspects that you cannot control. If you have nothing crossed out then know that you need to let it be. If you have some level of control over something, then write down what you could do about it tomorrow. Baby steps and letting go of the things you can’t control. Sometimes you have to tell yourself, what if everything goes right and I am just wasting my time here worrying when I could be having an amazing dream instead… ZZZ
Address underlying anxieties you just can’t shake
If nightmares are frequent and disruptive, consider talking to a therapist. They can help you identify and address any underlying anxieties that might be contributing to your sleep problems.
Embrace your sensitivity
The research suggests that people who fear the dark tend to be more creative and sensitive. Channel these qualities into your work, whether it’s writing, design, or any other creative pursuit.
One way you can embrace your sensitive side is to find your tribe and avoid isolating yourself. Connect with other freelancers, join online communities, or find a co-working space. Having a support network can help you overcome challenges and celebrate successes.
Remember, facing your fears is an important part of personal growth. Don’t let the darkness hold you back from achieving your full potential. Embrace the night, conquer your anxieties, and get some sleep!