Seeing the light
Historically we went to bed as it got dark and arose with the sunrise. This would make sense as burning candles or oil lamps would involve some expense but what is perhaps not generally recognised is that we only slept for around four hours and then got up. Scholars may have used this period of wakefulness to produce some of their finest work, while others might visit their neighbours, pray or do a bit of poaching. After an hour or so we would return to our beds and sleep for a few more hours. When the electric light became commonplace in the home and the workplace, our days were no longer governed by available daylight and our sleep patterns change to the straight eight hours of uninterrupted sleep (for most). As if this loss of the natural physiological sleep was not bad enough, we now have the additional problem of hidden light. Pretty well all the phones, tablets and computer screens we are glued to produce light that we are not fully aware of, but our brains are altered by it. As darkness falls we should start to feel tired, liberate melatonin in our brains, start yawning and be ready for bed. Hidden light from screens fools the brain into thinking the sun is still up and the onset of sleep is inhibited. So, ban screens in bedrooms and if you wake in the night don’t worry, it’s what you are meant to do.