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Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival Paperback – March 1, 2001
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Library Journal
This fascinating, thought-provoking study discusses the central role of sleep in our lives. After probing the scientific literature, Wiley and Formby, researchers at the Sansum Medical Research Institute, conclude that "the disastrous slide in the health of the American people corresponds to the increase in light-generating night activities and the carbohydrate consumption that follows." Our internal clocks are governed by seasonal variations in light and dark; extending daylight artificially leads to a craving for sugar, especially concentrated, refined carbohydrates that, in turn, cause obesity. More seriously, lack of sleep inhibits the production of prolactin and melatonin--deranging our immune systems and causing depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The authors prescribe sleeping at least nine and a half hours in total darkness in the fall and winter and switching to a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. They support their arguments with 100 pages of notes and by tracing the progression of disease from hunter-gatherers to our high-tech society. Despite its somewhat strident, all-knowing tone, this illuminating work is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
---Ilse Heidmann, San Marcos, TX
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The lightbulb put us out of sync with nature. Way back when, people spent the summer sleeping less and eating heavily in preparation for winter because light triggers the hunger for carbohydrates. Now, with light available 24 hours a day, we gulp down food all year long. So, Wiley and Formby assert, it is light, not what we eat or whether we exercise, that causes obesity--and diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Indeed, eating bacon, ham, butter, and eggs for breakfast doesn't impair health, and exercise can make you fat. If we considered our waking periods as equivalent to the long days of summer and the short ones of winter, we would avoid those health problems. Wiley and Formby offer three steps for improvement, but they aren't optimistic, because the light-driven speed and intensity of contemporary life may be too much to overcome. Still, try, first, plugging the leaks in your psyche; then, because you will have lost weight, resisting carbohydrates; and, finally, swallowing a few pills and helpful foods. William Beatty --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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It all starts with a question: Why are we all so sick? The richest, most well fed, most comfortable and pampered people to have every existed. Why do we suffer from diseases and syndromes that have never existed before, are present only in our culture and have no known cures or certain treatment?
From that stems other questions: What is health? What does it mean to be healthy? In our culture we have impressed upon the minds of our people that healthy equals a six pack, the sexual stamina of an 18 year old, a wrinkle free brow and the correct BMI.
We are off course because our answers to these questions are incorrect. We are trying to answer them by looking ahead, toward finding a magical (medical) solution (or pill) that will eliminate the problem. Instead, we should be looking backward, to the beginning, seeking the source of the problem and noting what changed at its inception.
That is exactly what the authors have done in Lights Out. They combed an abundance of medical studies and data (nearly a third of the books pages are end notes and citations), seeking the historical introduction of heart disease, cancer, depression, mental illness, diabetes and other "modern" illnesses. None of which existed on a large scale before.
What changed? Light.
We took over the night and our bodies have been freaking out ever since. They cannot adapt because we create an ever increasing number of distractions and light sources - things that keep us going 24/7, without rest.
The essence of the argument is that the human body was designed and adapted for certain cycles. When it is summer - light - we are to hunt and eat, as much as we can for as long as we can, there is no off switch. Our job is to prepare for the winter months - dark - when food will be limited and we will need to live off of our accumulated fat stores. During summer, we stay up late, experience tremendous stress (of the hunt), eat too much and push our bodies and minds to their limits.
In the winter we are designed to rest. To sleep more. Conserve our energy. Experience less (or no) stress. Our bodies survive on stored energy and heals and repairs itself in preparation for the coming summer. The two seasons balance each other.
In our lives, balance does not exist. Darkness NEVER comes. We sleep with the TV on, clock radio shining in our faces, cell phone shining into nowhere, street lights glaring - we can now see in the "dark." All of this light registers in your body as "summer," it cannot fully relax or rest - it keeps your systems up in anticipation of an attack or threat.
Light wants sugar. Carbs! Calories for the coming winter. In our society, winter never comes. It is always summer and we never stop consuming sugar. It is available EVERYWHERE. It fuels our economy. We eat, snack, eat, snack and drink all day long and into the "night."
Our bodies do not know what to do. Moral of the story. Go to bed. Get some sleep, in the dark. Doing so will go a long way in helping curb your appetite for carbs, allow your body to reset itself and improve mental and physical functioning.
There is so much great information in this book. It is not a difficult read. Totals around 200 pages. It will forever change how you view daily living in the West.
Kudos. Must read.
Thank you so much for writing this book for us, and making it simple but so impactful. Best things Are Free, like just sleep..
Highly recommend it!!!!
On a more serious note, this was an eye opener for me as I'm a perpetual night owl surviving on too little sleep too often. It definitely inspired me to make some changes. No doubt it'll be hard but I think well worth it in the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks that sleep is just a waste of time as this will help you better understand how important this is to your health - more than any other factor the medical profession would have you believe, like genetics or food or whatever.
However, this book has proved to be quite enlightening. I just found it interesting that most illness and cancers were started when the lightbulb was invented - and how now everyone has accepted using lights at night without thinking how it would affect their overall health. The idea of sleeping 8 full hours with everything turned off (without any light visible) - to be in a complete darkness - became a vital importance for our immune system. The main point of this book is that we suffered from light poisoning at night, due to a number of artificial light and lack of understanding of our bodies' seasonal sleep pattern. All of this leads to disorders and disease like obesity, cancer, bipolar, etc. And, it encourages us to sleep in a total darkness to improve our immune systems.
Since I read this book, I have put into practice of the suggestion of sleeping in a total darkness. I first found myself of having extremely vivid and highly emotional dreams, such as being eaten alive by piranhas.
Now, I cannot get a proper sleep with any single light being visible. It has now become crucial for me to sleep in a total darkness and to feel refreshed the next day - never before did I felt better. This book is a life-saving for me, but if one chooses to, it can be a guide and I'd recommend the suggestions presented in this book.