Sunday, October 11, 2009
"Using the daylight"
Wise words from a century ago(1):
When illumination was poor, people went to bed shortly after nightfall and arose at daybreak. As illumination has become better, they have gone to bed later and later, especially in the cities; and the hour of rising has grown later until, in the summer at least, many persons sleep as much during daylight as in the dark.
This is of course unfortunate. Sleep is never so restful--at least for most persons--during the hours of light as when it is dark. Everyone knows this from personal experience. The old saw was that two hours of sleep before midnight were worth twice that amount afterward; and while this might not be literally true, the truth in it is that if sufficient sleep is to be obtained after midnight, then much of it must be secured after darkness has ceased. Everywhere one hears the complaint that people are becoming more nervous and are losing the power to rest thoroughly. Undoubtedly, some of this--probably much more than we suspect--is due to the fact that so much of sleep in city life where the increase in nervousness is particularly noticeable must under present conditions be obtained during hours of daylight.
The article goes on to make a case for the establishment of daylight savings time. So now we have daylight savings time, and people are still going to bed too late but now they're also getting up too early, getting insufficient sleep whether it's dark or light. And ever more, they're also becoming more nervous and are losing the power to rest thoroughly.
You cannot flick off bright lights, computers, or TVs and just pop into bed expecting to fall directly to sleep. A case could be made for turning down the wattage in preparation for bed, perhaps reading with just an Itty Bitty Book Light turned onto the page instead of a table lamp flashing our brains. Less Ambien and more common sense.
1)The Journal A.M.A., July 31, 1909, liii, 383, 387.