Lit Nights Lead to Dark Days?

Depressed? Turn off the lights and go to sleep. That’s the conclusion of a study recently announced in Time magazine:

A study from Ohio State University Medical Center found that hamsters with chronic exposure to dim light at night showed signs of depression within just a few weeks: reduced physical activity compared with hamsters living in normal light-dark conditions, as well as less interest in sugar water (a treat for the hamsters), greater signs of distress when placed in water, and changes in the brain’s hippocampus that are similar to brain changes seen in depressed people.

I just spent the past three months in the Alaska summer. Hmmm.

But the upcoming Alaska night won’t be a solution, because I live in an age of cheap, bright LEDs, and all my gadgets have too many of them. See the story in Popular Mechanics.

The LED indicator proliferation is due partly to the litigious nature of consumer culture. (Hedge cites manufacturers’ fears of “failure to warn” lawsuits.) But most LEDs are added because product designers see no reason not to. “Often in the world of design, if you can afford to do something, you do it,” Hedge says. But even if a functional case could be made for each of these lights individually, in aggregate they just create sensory pollution and dilute the message each light ought to deliver: “Hey, something’s going on with this device.”

I love the accompanying illustration. It reminds me of my bedroom.

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