Friday, August 18, 2017

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival

This book shines light on, well, light.   The authors literally want America to turn off its lights.  These sentences best sum up the book’s central theme: 

“As a nation, we are sick because we don’t sleep.  We are fat and diabetic because we don’t sleep. We are dying from cancer and heart disease because we don’t sleep”.

“If you sleep at night for the number of hours it would normally be dark outside, you will only crave sugar in the summer, when the hours of light are long.  It is the “perennial adaptation” or the chronic, constant intent to hibernate, that causes overconsumption of carbohydrates and obesity and its attendant high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inevitable heart failure” 

I loved this book because the authors never attempted diplomacy when addressing man-made diseases.  If you are obese or if you are a vegetarian or if you think fake sugar will help you lose weight or if you still think that carbs are important (year-round) you will be set straight.  You will be served the real dope - unceremoniously, emphatically, and with a touch of hyperbole. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the book was first published in 2000; the author’s blunt instrument delivery (which I found refreshing and amusing) can now only be found in red state/blue state polemics (which I do not find amusing).  The authors of this book are not afraid to step on your toes to make a point.

The book is well-researched with almost 100 pages of end notes.  I always like to see that and it is especially appreciated in a book that makes Big claims, as this one does.

I do think the authors get side-tracked a few times on the basic nutritional advice (eat more fat and protein, few carbs, and no added sugar, whatsoever).   I happen to agree with all of that stuff, but I am somewhat new to the perils of 24 hour light made possible with electricity and made much worse with electronic intrusions.  I would have preferred more about the cost of progress…you know, the “What have we lost?” aspect.   I don’t mind when my laptop does context switching, or when my 14 year-old does context switching in a casual conversation, but I’m not crazy about it in my books.

This was a good book with a ton of very useful information for how to live a better, more healthful life.

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