Archive for the 'Book' Category

Lights Out: Sleep, sugar and survival

Today I’m gonna talk about this book I read recently. Well, you won’t be able to see me “review” books often cause I’m not really keen on reading books. What I  write about this book from here onwards is by no means comprehensive. It’s just random snippets and personal interpretations of it.

This book “Lights Out: Sleep, sugar and survival” is really an interesting read. The main premise of the book is describing how light, sleep and sugar affects our health. DUH… To be more descriptive, it tells about how the increasing hours we are bathed in light, lack of sleep and excessive consumption of carbohydrates is killing us. It also talks about how heavy exercise such as running on threadmills, doing the stairmaster etc is actually helping to kill you off sooner. (which incidentally encourages me further to be a lazy arse..)

I won’t go into the scientifics of it but basically overexposure to man made light after the sun comes down puts us out of sync from nature. We have extended the day to way beyond the daylight hours of nature. We’re reducing very much the time that we sleep. And furthermore, we are no longer sleeping in complete darkness as lights from streetlights, corridor lights are shining into the windows.

Why the need to sleep in complete darkness? Seems like our whole body can sense the presence of light, even our skin. And prolong exposure to light will reduce the production of a hormone melatonin that’s tasked to repair our body. So even if we’re sleeping well at night, with the presence of light in the bedroom, production of this important hormone will be varsely affected.

Prolong exposure to light also “tricks” our body into thinking that it’s summer time, where the day is long (although I don’t understand how this theory is applied to tropical climates). When the body thinks it’s summer time, it’ll start to store a lot of fat to prepare for the coming winter where food is scarce. Summer time is also when a lot of carbohydrate (carbs) rich food are available in abundance (talking about nature, not about carbs from human farming). So there’s plenty of carbs or sugar (they’re really the same thing) to go round to be stored as fat.  This is the way our body is “programmed” to survive; to store fat or risk famine.

You see the implication of the above? Since we’re now always bathed in light and we’re always consuming a lot of carbs, our body is in eternal summer. Body is turning all the carbs into fat via insulin. We crave for carbs all the time. This is now known as the Feast or Famine cycle. Unfortunately, since the supply of light and carbs never go out and there is no winter to used up all these excess fats, it just stays perpetually in our body.

So, how to save ourselves?

  1. Sleep more. At least 9.5 hours as highlighted in the book. And in complete darkness please.
  2. Take very little carbs.

Sounds simple but very hard to do and ironically I read this book late at night way way past my bedtime and at the same time craving for chocolates. Hehe.

I can do on and on the describe what I’ve read but that will take too long and a lot of the information there can be quite controversial to what we’ve been brought up to believe in. So go read this book yourself. You can either purchase it or just borrow it from your local library.