Why do our worst fears surface at night?

Patients complain about swirling, ruminative, worry-thoughts that haunt them preventing restful sleep and causing anxiety. Chet Raymo, one of my favorite authors, writes: “The night is the beginning of terror, as every child knows. Who is not afraid of the dark? The gods are creatures of daylight. The gods work nine to five. At night we are on our own.”

Perhaps this is the answer. At night, “we are on our own,” meaning that at night we are without our daytime world of distractions. When everything quiets down in the external, world and we are left with what’s underneath, that which is unsettled and frightening. These are the unresolved doubts, fears, and negatives that percolate up at night. These are the things that make us feel out of control. Relationship discord, a medical issue, or fear of losing a job, these are the demons of the night. Perhaps the best we can do, as the dawn arrives, is to recognize that these issues need to be addressed and not left buried for tomorrow night’s anxieties.

#fears #nightmares #nightterrors

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