Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Haley Reading Group: The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

In her article “The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness,” Rebecca Boyle discusses the sometimes troubling consequences of living in a world where light and lighting matters so much. Boyle explains how apparently advanced countries like the United States depend on lights opposed to how some developing nations depend on darkness. The article raises a range of issues concerning the implications of light in our society and the world.

Boyle discusses the relationship between light and health problems. At one point, the author suggests that "depression, obesity, and cancer" could all be linked to light (52).

After reading Boyle’s article, what are some things concerning light that you will view in new ways? Or, what's something you plan to do differently as a result of reading the article? How did the article shape that new view or behavior? If applicable, please provide a page citation.

Some previous responses:
"In Rebecca Doyle's "The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness", I found it extremely interesting all the effects man-made lights had on animals. Not only does it disrupt the pathway new born sea turtles have to take to get to the sea (47), it also takes a toll on many different bird species, and bats." --Jasmyn K.

"Before reading "The Health Effect of a World Without Darkness," I was unaware of many of the very real issues caused by light pollution. The most shocking health effect, to me, was insomnia being caused by artificial light. "There is a great difference between natural night waking and electronic-induced insomnia" (51). I was originally unaware of the difference. I think it's important that Doyle is drawing attention to the effects of light pollution that can harm us in our everyday lives without us even knowing." --Jada J.

"In 'The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness' Rebecca Doyle expresses her profound thoughts about the use of electronic devices and the effect it has on today's health. Reading this made me realize how much of a correlation electronic devices and health really have." --Kiara C.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to me to learn about the many ways artificial light disrupted the world. I noticed the fact that insects were drawn to light when I played softball and looked up to see all of the bugs swarming the light posts and when I would open the door of my home only to have moths fly in. However, I never really thought about this disrupting the insects lives to the point of them dying.

Being aware of the death toll light causes insects and other animals and birds, it is only fitting to believe it could impact humans as well. I am going to make sure to limit my light usage at night- especially the blue light. The author told us about an app, F.Lux (Boyle, 54) that I am going to use to change the glow of my phone from blue to red light in the hope that this will make me healthier.

Marina T.

Alexis S. said...

"The Health Effects of a World Without Darkness" by Rebecca Boyle really helped open my eyes on how harmful light pollution can really be to our sleep. Especially, coming from electronic devices since blue light comes directly from them which in turn can lead to insomnia. After reading about the effects of blue light, I will now try and refrain from checking my phone right before I go to sleep at night to help improve my sleep.

Alexis S.

Thomas Siganga said...

As with many things humans bring in the environment, light also has brought harm to the environment. There are always big clouds of bugs going around lights. Also, light is ruining migratory patterns for migratory birds. Thankfully I got blue light glasses a few weeks ago so it protects my eyes from the light. The thing I am going to take away is using less light and possibly even enjoying the beauty of the darkness.

Thomas Siganga

Anonymous said...

I think that there is no surprise that what we created to help ourselves causes pollution. Blue light can be a very real problem when going to sleep which is why I keep the blue light filter on. Also it many not be directly related to health but not many people get the chance to stargaze because of all the light pollution.
Breann Walton

Anonymous said...

This article was not at all shocking for me to read. It was something that I have previously read research articles about however it is something that I consider incredibly interesting. The immense light pollution causes by humans ever increasing use of various electronics has created a world that does not truly understand the meaning of darkness. The human body has not yet adapted to a world without darkness, which is why many Americans take some form of sleep aid. Because our body is unable to fall into deep sleep it is often unable to repair itself which is causing the human body to weaken over time.

Alexis R.

Fontez M. said...

I never knew how much artificial lighting affected us. The article was interesting because it was an eye opener for me, it just makes me reflect on my sleeping habits and my lack of sleep. I think that it makes total sense that blue lights can cause insomnia because I am always on my phone and I can never sleep. The article just makes me think twice about some of my habits.

Anonymous said...



While I have always known that moths and other insects were drawn to porch and streetlights, I never thought of these insects as being “disoriented” by the artificial light; nor did I realize that so many moths and other insects would have longer lifespans without artificial light! This article made me think twice about these bugs that I had considered to be a nuisance and what I can do to make their lives better. The information presented by Rebecca Boyle on the disruptions in animal behavior and other habits due to attraction to man-made light was enlightening. It makes perfect sense that humans are disrupted in similar ways! When I think of how my life could be enriched by less influence of artificial light, I am inspired to make immediate changes to my daily routine to include more darkness and share this information with my family and friends. I tried the F.lux, but it didn’t seem to like my Android phone! I will have to try something else. Miles W.

Anonymous said...

After reading Boyle’s article, my view of light being a helpful, man-made tool has changed. I have a horrible sleep schedule, and light just might be the culprit. I plan to put up some sun block curtains as soon as possible and see if I could then catch a better night's rest. Lillien W.

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, I plan on changing my phone schedule at night. On page 51 Boyle stated, "...two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night, like an iPad or a Kindle reduced melatonin levels by 22 percent." With the melatonin levels being reduced your sleep wake cycle is disrupted. This stuck out to me because I always scroll through my social medias or watch Netflix before I go to bed and I notice that I have a hard time going to sleep and I am constantly tired even when I feel like I got enough sleep the previous night. This article could be taken as a rude awakening to many teenagers and may be a solution as to why teenagers are always tired.
Cecelia S.

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, I really got a chance to actually understand how light and electricity actually works. I now know why alot of insects are attracted to light. I also learned that the light on your electronic device can kind of disrupt and delay your sleep. I never knew how much light has affected us in a way.

-Kennedy M.

Whitney Kriener said...

After reading this article I definitely plan on downloading the app they suggested for one. But unfortunately I have a horrible habit of reading before I go to bed. Through this article I have learned how our bodies react to light and the world around us. We update technology around us to "benefit" us but in reality we are harming ourselves. I think a new bedtime is definitely in order for me.

-Whitney Kriener

Jovahna Williams said...

After reading the article it was interesting to see how countries rely so heavily on darkness. Light does in fact effect people in numerous ways one of the most common ways being SAD which is linked to the changing of seasons and the lack of sunlight.

Jovahna W.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting in the article on the section where it talks about how people who “used a phone less than once a week were more than twice as likely to be “very tired” a year later as those who never did”” (pg 51). I found the effect that cell phones have on people very interesting and that using your phone before you go to sleep can increase your chances of being tired. I think that more people should pay attention to this fact, especially teenagers who are on their phones right up to the point where they go to sleep.

-Gianna T.

Sable M. said...

It was cool to find that there are many different ways that animals/insect can be affected by light. The insects are drawn to the light and as far as animals go, we as mammals are pretty drawn to our technology and the light that it emits. The light is like a token that'll keep you coming back.

The plan to limit screen time has always been an issue, but I think that its more of an issue because I play brain games and read books on my phone and laptop. But I think narrowing down the amount of time will benefit in the daily life and in adjusting my sleep pattern with insomnia.

Isaiah Jackson said...

I was shocked at the existence of light pollution. Before reading this article, I had never even heard of it. It is scary to think that we live in a society where we depend so much on something that is so harmful.
Even after reading this, I cannot see myself making any serious life changes, despite the benefits of doing so. I spend a lot of my time being exposed to the artificial light of a screen, which I'm used to. The harsh truth is that a large amount of people will not be motivated to change something they are so comfortable with until they receive a negative consequence.

Anonymous said...

While reading this article I noticed that a lot what they were talking about were things that I have experienced in my daily life. For instance, how bugs are attracted to light and how it can kill them is actually very true because you always see moths and other bugs flying around street lights. Then also how florescent lights actually have negative effects on humans as well. The example they gave about cell phone usage actually made me think about how when I use my phone and how it does make me tired. So to combat they I'll make sure to start limiting my phone usage when I'm studying so that I can be more alert and focused. Because I do realize how I do get tired when I'm on my phone.
-Jasmine S.

Anonymous said...

This article provided insight into some of the effects of light on the human body and how much we depend on it so much. I don't see myself making any changes to my lifestyle after reading this article because certain habits are too hard for me to break. However I do think that it is important to be in the moment though and not constantly engaged in electronics.

Courteney W.

Phoenix L Johnson said...

I just thought about light differently in general because I never knew how it affected us and nature. I never noticed how it was harder to see stars in big cities or two hours to blue light at night reduced melatonin by 22 percent (pg 51). Then 30 to 50 percent is at an increased risk of cancer in the worst light pollution cities. With nature and animal, bats make different hunting routes to avoid lights from cites.

With knowing the effects of light now, I notice it is dangerous. I notice I need to stop playing my game before going to sleep or watching TV. I will try to sleep with it off to improve my sleeping habits.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca Boyle lists many concerning problems that light may cause. I always believed that light at nighttime reduced crimes, but Rebecca stated that my misconceived belief was not true. She stated, "A young but rapidly growing field of research suggests that nighttime light itself is far more dangerous than the dark"(46). The United States is a major contributor to light pollution and limiting the number of visible stars and the sun in the sky also. This impacts sea animals because they survive based on these visible marks. I may change the amount of light I use because I may be contributing to the problem. Justin J.

Dasmin W. said...

This article open my eyes to how much the Untied States use artificial light from light bulbs to our cell phones instead of travelling and seeing nature itself. he author, Boyle, states," Not even Betelgeuse can outshine my iPhone. Yet I am an astronomy writer"(44). Boyle is suggesting that society including her sometimes care and focus more on their phones than the actual light in the skies like the moon to the stars.

Anonymous said...

This reading was more interesting compared to the others especially since it dealt with the factors light plays in our life. I believe we could all agree that light pollution is very real which itself hinders our ability just to view the stars above. Not only can light hide objects but be harmful if not used in the correct times.

- Kyle Mabwa