Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley and Brent Formby is a great book. I have read it twice and have purchased a copy for my personal library. It is one of those books, for me that placed into words, in a cohesive context, many of the thoughts and inklings I have had my entire life.
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: Sleep, Sugar and Survival. 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.
Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.