Lighting is everything, oftentimes

April 28, 2008

by Jennifer Gallus

I’ve read that the longer daylight hours in the spring triggers hormonal changes in many animals such as ducks and geese that promotes mating and the urge to nest.

I find this fascinating. It’s not the warmer temperatures in the spring that cue these animals to reproduce, it’s the longer days. This year’s weather proves that theory since we just started experiencing a warm up, and my ducks and geese have been laying eggs for a good month now.

Similarly, the decrease in daylight hours in the fall is what triggers leaves to turn color, not the cooler temps. It makes one wonder just how many biologic processes hinge on the length of daylight.

Just this past winter I started reading before bed again after many years of being too exhausted to even give a book a moment’s thought before hitting the pillow.

I noticed that once I put the book down and tried to go to sleep, it would take me much longer to doze off than before I started reading.

This trouble was very obvious to me because I had been enjoying what I consider “falling asleep as fast as a guy” for some time. I had finally achieved what I had wished for so many years as I would lay next to my husband as he was sound asleep and I was not.

There was definitely a correlation between reading and having trouble falling asleep for me lately.

Then, just two weeks ago, I read that reading with a light on overhead does not allow our body’s natural melatonin levels to rise, which helps us go to sleep.

Melatonin kicks in when our eyes pick up less light in the evening, thus helping us get sleepy. A bright light overhead prevents that from happening, thus making the process take longer after abruptly turning out the light.

It was suggested that people who read at night use a soft light or a book light rather than a bright overhead light. This made perfect sense to me, and explained my snoozing troubles.

Now I read with a soft lamp light and have returned to my “manly” sleep habits. I think this is the only situation that I’d enjoy being “manly.”

These were just some tidbits I thought were interesting enough to pass along.


My 7-year-old often has some kind of comment each time we drive by a cemetery. One time he told me he was going to buy me a pink grave stone with flowers on it when I die. Nice to know, huh?

The other day, we went by a cemetery that was half full of graves and the other half was grass, to which he observed, “I guess more people have to die.” He said it very nonchalantly.