Under Cover Of Darkness

(Originally posted 30th August, 2004)

What is it about the night that makes people so nervous? You hear stories of people all the time who are afraid of the dark — or at least partially disturbed by it — and who have to have all the lights on all of the time.

Back in ages past, when life was much more of struggle for survival than it is now, being afraid of the dark makes a certain amount of sense. Human eyes are better suited to the ambient light levels during the day and at night we can only see in black and white. That makes it so much easier for predators to sneak in unobserved. When we lived closer to nature, this cautiousness was probably justified.

This evolutionary instinct isn’t so necessary any more. In most civilised countries, we can stay safely indoors at night, locked away from the predators in a place where no one’s going to disturb us. So why is it that so many people still can’t handle the nighttime and they become edgy as soon as the lights go out?

I love the dark; it’s my favourite part of the day and I look forward to sunset every night. For me, it is a time of introspection, when the inner world comes out to play. All of my best thinking happens at night. When I’m writing, I love to turn just about all of the lights out and just pace around the house in the dark, listening to music. Ideas just seem to flow better when there are less distractions around.

Night is also normally when people sleep and dreams are a usual part of the nightly sleep cycle. As Carl Jung postulates, dreams give the subconscious mind a chance to process repressed emotions and thoughts, and get them out into the open where they can have an effect on the person’s consciousness.

So if the nighttime is when our subconscious mind has greater power over us, are people just afraid of what’s going on inside?

Perhaps. It’s something to think about anyway.