The power of light to change your world for good
Light Notes banner

In praise of shadows…

To balance the brilliance of the Diwali celebration of light last week, I would like to put in a good word for darkness. Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s elegant essay – In Praise of Shadows – suggests that the Western obsession with bright, shiny transparency may undermine our ability to embrace the subtler delights of mystery and the patina of age .

Growing evidence of the damage caused by light after dark suggests that the risks are more than philosophical. Not only for human health –…/pii/S0048969722022781… Artificial light at night and risk of mental disorders: A systematic review – but for plants and animals too – Exposure to Artificial Light at Night and the Consequences for Flora, Fauna, and Ecosystems 

This fascinating study of Seasonal Affective Disorder and light exposure among an Amish community in rural Pennsylvania suggests we ignore our need for darkness at our peril. It describes a clear correlation between the low incidence of SAD among this community, even during the shortest days of winter, with the strong and regular difference between daytime and night-time light levels of <1 lux during sleep – Daily and Seasonal Variation in Light Exposure among the Old Order Amish

I’m not suggesting for one moment that we go off-grid (or build flats without windows!) But perhaps it’s time to stop being quite so afraid of the dark?

Springing forward setting your back?

Why do some people breeze through the daylight savings change while some of us feel out of sorts for days? This analysis of over 1,600 people asked exactly that – More Than Morningness: The Effect of Circadian Rhythm Amplitude and Stability on Resilience, Coping, and Sleep Duration 

They discovered that your amplitude (or the difference between the peaks and troughs of your body clock) and your stability (how regular those sleep and wake patterns are naturally) both determine how much sleep you need and your ability to cope with the clock change, with potential implications for your ability to handle circadian disruption and shift work.  As these are both genetically-determined, the best thing you can do is to be aware of what works best for you. Whatever your profile, getting bright light in the morning and enough sleep will help.

Dark nights and green fingers

I’ve just inherited the most luscious allotment here in Bridport. Delicious dark soil, raised beds, lots of happy leafy things (not sure what they are…), a greenhouse, mature compost heap and generous neighbours. So much to learn. Plants clearly need light. It turns out they need darkness just as much.  This article explains more – from germination rates to to the quality of fruits and seed setting and even their ability to resist disease. I am looking forward to discovering all this and more in this quiet corner of paradise – Editorial: Plant Responses to the Dark Scenario

Are you the person who always asks ‘why’?

Please join the Agile Research event at 12 noon to add your voice to this practical debate: how can we build bridges between theory and practice, academics and industry industry to deliver evidence-based, effective and sustainable lighting for all? Register here. We’ll be sharing the recording so no worries if you aren’t able to make it today.

Get in touch!