Having gone sleep deprived for so many years due to my previous career, but also due to ignorance of the subject, I ran to get a copy of Lights Out by T.S. Wiley with Bent Formby, once I became aware of its existence thanks to Robb Wolf of CrossFit NorCal.
For those who are health conscious it's common knowledge that getting the proper quality and quantity of sleep is vital for optimal health.  Lights Out offers an in depth study of sleep, how much is actually needed and why, the connection between sleep, light and the chemical reactions in our bodies and how food comes into play.  If you had no knowledge that there was a connection between these factors–we didn't–Lights Out is fascinating.

How can a book about sleep be "fascinating"?  First, it's about so much more than getting a good night's sleep.  It's about life, existence, eating, weight control and why the most common diseases are, well, common diseases.  Two, the authors are witty and have a great sense of humor.  While it's filled with science Lights Out is easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

Lights Out contains nearly one hundred pages of Endnotes–cited articles, documents and journals, to back up its "theories".  The bibliography and suggested reading list is seven pages long.  The point is the authors make an outstanding case for their prescription of longer periods of sleep in absolute darkness and eating what would best be described as the Paleo Diet adjusted for the season. 

We were hoping the premise of Lights Out was false.  A career in law enforcement where sleep deprivation and not following the "cycles of nature", like working at night and sleeping during the day, are often the norm, make following the book's "prescription" difficult at best.  The information contained in Lights Out is hard to refute.  It makes sense.  Looking back, my co-workers who were in the worst shape or had the most health problems were the cops who worked steady graveyard shift for a number of years.  Lights Out offers the best reasons why this probably is.

We place this book on our list of books that should have come with you when you were born–part of an owners manual of the self if you will.  The book must be read by anyone interested in optimum performance, excellent health and improving the quality of life.  Detailing every reason why Lights Out makes sense would make this a very long piece.  We will summarize some of the interesting aspects of the book in hopes that you'll read the entire work:

* Sleep controls your appetite for carbohydrates, the consumption of which controls water retention and insulin production.  Not enough sleep, not enough control.

* Why is there no cancer in nature?  Only people and their pets get cancer.

* Spending so much time in light–lamps, TV, in front of the computer, signal to your body and brain that it is summer which means winter is coming and your systems will prepare accordingly.  "Winter" never comes because we spend so much time in light.  This results in numerous problems.

* Staying up late, in the artificial light, can send a "hunger" signal.  You're not hungry, you're tired.  You crave a carb that will send your insulin up to turn serotonin into melatonin and put you to sleep.

* You can eat more carbs during summer.  Limit carbs to 45 grams a day in winter.

* Bread and pasta is "fake" food.  "There are no bread trees or pasta bushes."

* The recommended 7 hours of sleep is not enough for the winter season.

The above list does not do Lights Out justice.  It must be read.  For those who believe they cannot follow the advice- read it anyway.  Any adjustments that can improve the quality of health or performance is worth the investment.

Preview this book

all know we don't get enough sleep. What we don't know is that there is
a killer connection between sleep, food, light, and health. And that
when it comes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and
depression, you need to rethink everything you know.Based on years of
research at the National Institute of Health, Kept in the Dark will
tell you: — Why weight-loss is as easy as the flick of a switch– Why
researchers can give mice cancer just by leaving the lights on– Why
exercise can really give you a heart attack– Why Type II diabetes has
increased four-fold and why you're next– Why you're overproducing sex
hormones but you're too tired to want sex– Why infertility plagues
Baby Boomers– Why we're a Prozac Nation and still fight depression
constantly– Why you'll go the way of the dinosaurs if you don't eat
and sleep in sync with the spin of the planet

More details

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival
By T. S. Wiley, Bent PH D Formby
Published by Simon and Schuster, 2001
ISBN 0743417798, 9780743417792

Other sleep related articles:

Courtesy of
Hormonal Optimization Through Sleep

Courtesy of
Undersleeping Increases the…

Courtesy of University of Chicago Medical Center:

Sleep loss boosts appetite, may encourage weight gain 

University of Chicago News Office | Lack of deep sleep may

Courtesy of
Sleep 101: Maximize Anabolic Potential!

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