My spouse was already out cold. I’d almost completed the rituals in preparation for rest and stood at the side of the bed after a very long day. I flicked on the light, set the phone alarm, applied lip balm, fished the sleep mask from the top drawer and skimmed it into position across my eyes effectively blocking all visual information. I kicked off the slippers and slid into bed, pulled up the covers and the universal sigh of “I finally get to lie down” emanated from somewhere deep in my soul. Blissful deprivation with the relative quiet of evening in a suburb of twenty thousand people right over the back fence from 2 plus million. I’d curled into my favorite dream position and was dropping off when the voice came out of the dark, very close to my ear…
“So, Zorro, you gonna sleep with the light on all night long?”
I’ve mentioned before our bodies are the evolutionary product of thousands of millennia and physically our responses are slow to catch up and cope with the myriad of technological stimulations we’re subjected to. Back in the day, we slept in caves and didn’t have to deal with blinking cell phones, glow from alarm clocks, computers downloading at three a.m. and street lights seeping glare through the blinds. I’m told there are even those who sleep with the television on. In the bedroom.
The consequences of these exterior conditions are hard on the health of our still indigenous bodies. Melatonin is a hormone necessary for the regulation of numerous critical physiological functions. Melatonin doesn’t trigger and function properly in the presence of a light source, no matter how small. Recently, studies suggest women who sleep with lights on have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Yep. It’s serious.
One of the solutions, when we don’t have the option to regulate our environment, is a simple sleep mask.
So, turn off the lights and keep the sword handy, just in case.