Before the dawn of electric light in the early 20th century, humans mostly took cues from the Sun to determine when to sleep and when to stay awake.
Now, however, our exposure to artificial light sources is nearly constant. City-dwellers are barraged with all sorts of lights at all hours of the night, and anyone with a laptop, an e-reader or even just a working lightbulb can choose to stay in light long after the Sun goes down.
Electricity gave us dominion over the night, but is the light now controlling us? While these extra hours spent in light are widely viewed as more time to pursue work or leisure, studies show they might also be playing tricks on our body and cutting across the grain of our biological rhythms.
Artificial light makes the modern world possible. But not all kinds of light are good for us. Electric light has fundamentally altered our lives, our bodies and the very nature of our sleep. How Electric Light Changed the Night combines a brief history of artificial light and sleeping patterns with a scientific exploration of the surprising ways artificial light affects us.
What we take away is what the film doesn’t explicitly tell us: daylight is good. Daylight is necessary for our pleasure, activity and replenishment. Daylight reveals the full spectrum of life’s colors, while artificial light drains it away. Shorter daylight hours affects our sleep, productivity and state of mind.
by Skippy Massey
This post originally appeared at the Humboldt Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.