This is why you’re still scared of the dark as an adult

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Science has all the answers

    Perhaps it’s down to some sort of traumatic incident from our childhoods, or from watching one too many terrifying horror movies or episodes of Stranger Things, but as adults, some of us still can’t completely shake our fear of the dark. Even the best of us get spooked by noises from downstairs at night time and wouldn’t dream of venturing down there without our phone’s flash light.

    According to a recent survey by Go Glow of 2,000 people, 40% of us are too scared to walk around our own homes without a light on. Fear of the dark, aka nyctophobia, is more common in adults than you might think.

    The reason behind this fear dates right back to the early humans and our predators’ hunting habits. A 2011 study, published on Plos One, has linked lions’ hunting habits to our innate fear of the dark by examining the effect that moonlight has on the frequency of lion attacks on humans.

    fear darkness

    The real reason you’re scared of the dark?

    The study found that the ‘overwhelming majority of lion attacks on humans occur at night’, and that Serengeti lions had a higher food intake when there was no moonlight, because ‘lions are less successful in obtaining wildlife prey during moonlit nights, and moonlight has a similar effect on the risk of human predation.

    ‘Most human attacks in the week following the full moon’, the study said. So, our fear of darkness is likely to come from the fact that one of the biggest human predators would attack early humans in the dark.

    Now, you might not be at all at risk of a lion attack in your own home, but this totally explains why you can’t escape your fear of the dark – unfortunately, it’s beyond your control.

    Next time someone teases you about being afraid of the dark? Feel free to just blame it on the lions.

    Reading now