Some adults who struggle to sleep as they lay in their wooden beds are in fact scared of the dark, a new study says. Insomnia should be assessed differently, researchers suggest, as almost 50 per cent of students questioned recently admitted to dark-related phobias spoiling their sleep. Researchers from the Ryerson University Sleep & Depression Lab played sudden noises to participants in both light and darkness before comparing each person's blink responses to determine whether they are more afraid in the darkness. The study's lead author, Taryn Moss, explained that those who did not adjust as well to darkness were the ones who did not sleep well at night, indicating that sleep problems are linked to a fear of darkness. Ms Moss said: "As treatment providers, we assume that poor sleepers become tense when the lights go out because they associate the bed with being unable to sleep. Now we're wondering how many people actually have an active and untreated phobia." Colleen Carney, PhD, the principal investigator in the study, believes that new approaches are needed to treat insomnia, in light of these findings. "[W]e believe we have stumbled across an unmet treatment need for some poor sleepers," she said. The study's abstract, entitled "Are people with insomnia afraid of the dark? A pilot study" was presented at SLEEP 2012 on June 11th, a meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) in Boston.