What is Nyctophilia?

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: What is Nyctophilia? Can a person be cured from this and what are some things they can do to get help?

This is the first time I was introduced to Nyctophilia, and I was surprised by what I found. Nyctophilia means “Love of darkness or night; finding relaxation and comfort in the darkness.” It’s different from insomnia. An insomniac is someone who has difficulty sleeping at night. Insomnia is a physical condition, whereas nyctophilia is a psychological condition.

One nyctophiliac wrote the following statement: “I love the darkness, it makes me happy. I feel a sense of relief as I sit in the dark and listen to the sound of the clock ticking by. I know it’s not good for me to stay awake like this, like a ghost, in complete darkness.”

Though nyctophiliacs find it difficult to fall asleep, it’s not because of jet lag or a rotating work schedule affecting their biological clock; it’s because the person craves the experience of sitting in the dark. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices nyctophilia is a sexual paraphilia and the nyctophiliac derives sexual pleasure and arousal by a “love of night”.

The recommended treatments are primarily psychological in nature and include some of the following: Psychoanalysis, hypnosis, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and drug therapy. No treatment is recommended unless the condition becomes problematic for the person in some way, or the person comes under scrutiny of the legal system. The treatment is usually the same as treatment for other sexual fetishes. Some drug treatments include medications such as GnRH, which is a long lasting gonadotropin releasing a hormone which represses sexual desires. According to other literature, some are treated with antiandrogens (testosterone blockers) and/or phenothiazine, which is an antipsychotic.

I have a feeling the person who wrote the question does not have nyctophilia, but instead enjoys working at night. If that is the case, please let me know, and I will give some suggestions for falling asleep rather than staying awake throughout the night.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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