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Posts Tagged ‘Sleep’

Let there be Night !

Happened to read a special report on the latest issue of “The week” magazine which actually spoke about a relatively new kind of pollution “Light pollution”.

This report gave me an answer for all my doubts about why the night sky in Bangalore looks reddish bright with scanty few stars… Being from a village I have always enjoyed a beautiful view of the sky in night with millions of stars twinkling down. Often, when you walk through the paddy fields in night you may spot a shooting star even. With Shakespeare  one  could exclaim  back here in this place….”How beatueos the world is….”

But for the past two and a half years, after coming to city of Bangalore I must admit, hardly I’ve been able to spot any of those constellations. Only time I remember doing that was in Mugalur, where we as medical students went for a 2 week camp in rural Karnataka.

Reading the report on the Week, I realized the issue is bigger. It also had something to do with pollution. But this time the villain being relatively unheard cousin – Light pollution !

“Once upon a time, there used to be a night. It would be ushered in at the cowdust hour, when lamps were lit, long shadows were cast and crickets began their chirp. Sometimes, it was dark and deep, lulling the living into slumber while mysterious ghosts glided in the starlight. Sometimes, it would be awash in moonlight, inspiring a love-struck Romeo to serenade. candle light dinners took on enchantment when a flickering flame was the only illumination.

……But this generation has been deprived of the dark.”

Our cities these days pride in their ability to never sleep. Night life is ‘the’ life in most of the cities. We have cities which switch on their street lamps and flood lights to chase away darkness. Adding on to this the flood lights, the vehicle head lamps and so on.

In the Good old days, every writer praised light and often projected it as sign of Good, Truth and all the positive values. They wrote about dark as a symbol of fear, crime and other negatives. Let these masterpieces  stay but the beauty of darkness was something which inspired and astonished many.

But here is a time, where our generations would miss this beauty for ever. ‘The loss of the night is a romantic tragedy, and doubly so, Not only has it taken away the mysteries of the dark, but also dimmed the significance of day, with nothing to contrast with it.’

Artificial illumination invaded almost completely the natural darkness at least in our cities.

One might wonder other than so called concern for the ecology and worry about everything that weans away – which is a trend these days – is light pollution really an important issue?Does this have any significance in our lives?

Late night shifts which alter the production of melatonin, escalates the rish of cancer. This is not just a hypothesis but it is based on a WHO study. In Denmark, they have a scheme in which ladies who develop cancer after late night shift work are paid compensation. Another hormone that has a spurt at night is the Growth Hormone. ‘In adults, GH is associated with the body’s repair mechanism. It’s deficiency leads to the fatigue and low immunity that we see in those who stay awake in night. A day’s sleep cannot compensate for a nights rest. Cortisol, the stress hormone too, is related to the circadian rhythm. Its disruption is manifested in the increased stress levels, high blood pressure and obesity. There are reasons humans were created as diural beings, and tampering with this rhythm could open the door to a host of health troubles.

From medical aspect let us move on to the social, emotional and psychological aspect. The people who work in night shift regularly are often disconnected from others and society. Even with week end holidays, people who work according to American or European timings find it hard to bring back their body to Indian timings. Some loose weight, where others gain.

Its not just about staying beyond traditional bedtime. The quality of darkness is as important.  A US study showed that infants who slept in rooms lit by night lamp had increased chances of developing myopia.

The problem is big and the effects are many. Surprisingly there is no Indian study yet on this subject. And I doubt whether any thinking has gone into this subject as such yet. Well, I think I need to change my style too a bit. My usual sleeping time is 2 AM to 8 AM. I think I need to revise it soon. Rightly they say” Early to bed, Early to rise”.

Then the next bit, after reading and sharing about this problem at various sources in last 24 hours, I think there should be some study on this subject especially in our cities like – Bangalore and Hyderabad where so many IT parks and call centers function according to the time tables of their international clients. People deserve to know about this in a much organized and systematic way validated with scientific findings and facts.

God when he created universe said “Let there be Light”. It is believed He  created  Light and Darkness for man and other animals to work and rest. Its time to hear the new word “Let there be Night !”

The night itself is our right. It’s time to reclaim !

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