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The Importance of Darkness

Rest, Recovery, and Recreation

When most of us think of #darkness, a #fear wells up inside, a fear that is not easy to identify. Is it rational? Probably not, however there it is.

“There are different kinds of darkness,” Rhys said. I kept my eyes shut. “There is the darkness that frightens, the darkness that soothes, the darkness that is restful.” I pictured each. “There is the darkness of lovers, and the darkness of assassins. It becomes what the bearer wishes it to be, needs it to be. It is not wholly bad or good.” ― Sarah J. Maas

Is this an evolutionary fear or a product of our imaginations? We, humans, are rather creative creatures. It is hard to know if this fear comes from the time of megafauna and our need to protect ourselves from predators at night or more recent development in response to the removal of darkness from our homes with outdoor/indoor lighting.


What are the odds of having a sizable #predator attack you at night? Very slim. Does it happen? Yes! Is it likely that a mountain lion or black bear is waiting for you by your driveway tonight? No! You are more likely to die in a car accident than be attacked at your back door by a large predatory animal. So why are we so afraid of the dark?


Think about your unsolicited response when you come across a rattlesnake. I guarantee you if you see it or hear it, you will move in the opposite direction before you even realize you are moving. That is an evolutionary response to a known threat for humans. It feels very different, more critical than our fear of darkness.


Most likely, our fear of night has more to do with how our eyes work. At night, the rods of our eyes take over from the color-loving cones. When our eyes are in "rod mode," we see varying shades of grey making it difficult to see with clarity or depth. We simply cannot see as precisely as we can with our cones. This makes it challenging to move about quickly if needed, not a comfortable feeling for any form of life except maybe a sloth.


We are learning that darkness is physically essential to our #health, #happiness, and general well being. Our bodies, like all life on Earth, have developed under a day and night cycle, a monthly pattern of light and dark. This pattern is what our biorhythms are linked to. #Melatonin, a hormone responsible for #rest, #recovery, and regulation of blood pressure, begins to be produced in your body once you are asleep. If we are exposed to blue or white light at night, melatonin production halts and will not begin again until the next night. When our bodies are at rest, that is when healing begins.


I challenge us all to rethink our relationship with darkness, to embrace it with open arms. It is entirely something to be out underneath a star-filled sky in the stillness of the night. Why not give it a go? If your fear of darkness gets the best of you, invite some friends to join you in your endeavor to make friends with darkness.

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All photographs and video courtesy of Bettymaya Foott. All rights reserved.

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