Before the dawn of electric light in the early 20th century, humans mostly took cues from the Sun to determine when to sleep and when to stay awake. Now, however, our exposure to artificial light sources is nearly constant. City-dwellers are barraged with all sorts of lights at all hours of the night, and anyone with a laptop, an e-reader or even just a working lightbulb can choose to stay in light long after the Sun goes down. While these extra hours spent in light are widely viewed as more time to pursue work or leisure, studies show they might also be playing tricks on our body and cutting against our default biological rhythms.
How Electric Light Changed the Night combines a brief history of artificial light and sleeping patterns with a scientific exploration of the surprising ways artificial light affects us. The film was produced through a collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences and PBS Digital Studios as part of KQED San Francisco’s short science documentary series, Deep Look.
See also: Towers that mimicked the moon