re: How to be fully alert minutes after waking VIEW POST


Long ago, before there were SAD lights - before there were lights - our ancestors discovered one simple life hack to help with this problem.

They just stopped working.

Because, back in the day, there was literally nothing to do in the winter. You'd done the 'growing food' bit, along with the 'gathering food' stuff in Autumn. So they dug in, lit a big bloody fire, and waited for the minor miracle of Spring to come around again, and tried to avoid dying in the meantime.

To keep themselves alive and less bored by the horrors of not dying, they also came up with every Winter festivity ever so they could eat nice, fatty food and tell fun stories to each other while gathered around the fire. Fun times.

Then capitalism and the Protestant work ethic took over, aided and abetted by electric lights, heating and the magic boxes we use to earn a living. All of a sudden you have to work 9 to 5 (or 6, or 7) whatever the weather, whatever time of year it is, whatever the 10,000 year human pattern of existence is screaming to your poor body and mind.

Where we used to sleep twice a night, we now try to minimize our time asleep to make ourselves more efficient, treating our bodies and minds like commodities - resources to be exploited, but also to be made conforming to industrialized patterns of work.

Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't be using your SAD light. It's obviously working for you and I'm pleased. Don't take this as criticism of your life, please - some of us use coffee, some do press ups - we all (probably) do something like this.

But I really think we should take a step back and wonder whether we can always work the same way, every day, every season, every year. If you're only being kept awake and moving by some technological or chemical crutch, isn't this a bit of a 'smell', to use the language of our industry?


I like your story. You are talking about our more recent ancestors than I was in my story but, by my understanding of anthropology, you are more or less correct.

It's hard to know where the line is with technology and drugs. Everybody probably thinks buildings are good. Temperature control and regular office lighting are probably okay. But what about full spectrum office lighting for a little extra boost? What if we increase the intensity of the office lighting to match an overcast day? What if we pump in more fresh air? What if we filter the air to remove pollutants? How about if we increase the lighting intensity to match full daylight? What about caffeine? Adderall? Cocaine?

Who gets to decide and on what basis do they make their decisions?

Caffeine tends to be a socially acceptable stimulate. Adderall? Not so much.

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