Friday, October 15, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to Eat Cheese.

A paper on sleep and light in the early edition of PNAS has garnered some mainstream media attention, here's The Economist's article about it. Basically, when they added light at night to the environment, mice got fat and had increased glucose intolerance. Interestingly, the effect was the same whether the night light was bright or dim, although as The Economist points out, mice are nocturnal and normally eat at night so this might screw them up much worse than humans.

The importance of sleep (and darkness) has been discussed a lot in the paleosphere, Stephan recently did a post on it and of course Mark Sisson has touched on it several times (is there anything he hasn't?). I recently bought a bunch of candles to use in the evenings, the candles lasted 3 days and I didn't notice any difference in sleep and that was the end of my little experiment - ok so I didn't exactly give it the old college try (or rather I gave it Calvin's father's version). Maybe if I could find some cheap bulk candles I would give it another shot.


  1. I haven't tried the candle thing but sleeping with an eye mask has made a difference in my quality of sleep.
    The candle thing will never be something I can try since the DH is addicted to TV before bed. His trigger to sleep is related to the remote. As soon as he unconsciously moves his hand up and touches the remote to his lower lip he instantly goes to sleep. I have watched him and it works any time of day or night. He is a great napper and I cannot nap, it only makes me groggy.
    Do you nap successfully?

  2. A friend was staying with us and he is a great sleeper even though he's going on fifty. Our nickname for him is 'the teenager' for his ability to sleep till noon on the weekends, but I would love to be able to sleep like that. I'm a terrible napper, I tried to take a nap today when the kid took his but couldn't manage it.

    We watch TV in the evenings which doesn't help but I figured at least if the ambient light was candle it might be better. I would like to try it more seriously sometime.

  3. This is interesting, I might try the candle experiment and see if it makes any difference. I can't nap either, wish I could.

    That top illustration is just so cute I can feel my insides melting! Awwww!

  4. "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles."

    -Thomas Edison

    There seems to be a lot of evidence that a shortage of melatonin is bad. Actually doing candles for longer than three days does require some commitment, which I am currently lacking, but I wish you luck. If you do try it, please let me know how it works out.