Turning Down the Lights

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The book Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival has already had an impact on me. The book helped me understand the connection between light and hormones. Artificial lighting has lengthened the day and caused our hormones to believe it is summer all the time. With summer comes the hormonal signals to consume carbohydrates and lots of them. When modern societies are always in growth mode, the result is obesity and cancer.

Night-time Magic..

Photo Night-time Magic.. by SonOfJordan

Staying up late or sleeping in an environment with blue spectrum light is not good for our health. I always wondered why getting sleep before midnight was somehow more valuable than sleeping in late. The hormone prolactin, which is often thought of in its role in nursing, also has a role in sleep. Anything we do to delay the release of melatonin (staying up late, sleeping under blue light) will delay prolactin. The book Lights Out goes on to explain how pushing the prolactin into the daytime will suppresses your leptin signal. The result is your appetite for sugar stays on throughout the daytime and into the night.

After reading the book, I made a few changes.

  1. I changed to a single very low wattage light bulb for my room.
  2. I installed f.lux on both my computers. It blocks blue spectrum light from sunset to sunrise. This has had a tremendous effect.
  3. I no longer turn the light on if I need to get up in the middle of the night. I move a little slower to be safe.
  4. During low light times such as cloudy days, I try and let my eyes adjust to the surroundings before reaching for the light switch. This is ongoing, but I am speculating that by allowing my eyes to naturally work with a wide variety of light levels, they will strengthen over time. I am reminded how cold weather training helped my body adapt to a wide variation of temperatures.

Although I expect these changes to have a greater effect during the shorter days of winter, I have noticed that I fall asleep faster and wake more refreshed. My sleep has not been this deep since childhood.

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