It has become obvious to me both in my own personal observations, and the scientific information laid out in Edelstein and O’Connor’s articles that the sun has and will continue to be the dictating phenomenon for all life on earth. Whether we choose to accept the sun’s daily rise and fall as the measure of our waking hours or not there are some risks to be taken into consideration.
The first arises from a study on how the majority of living species respond to changing patterns of light and darkness. These patterned responses measured over the course of a single day are called a circadian rhythm. Humans, regardless of whether we are aware of it or not, work through a series of daily routines and rituals. It is usually not until these rituals are disrupted or changed that we become aware of their significance. The most widely recognized disruption of our circadian rhythm is daylight savings time. The act of moving the clock ahead or backward a single hour has a substantial impact on our health; ranging from common grogginess to heart attacks, or accidents at work. Even those who work the night shift are at risk for cancer due to their inadequate amount of exposure to the sun.
Even if you are an abiding citizen of your circadian rhythm, studies have shown that certain parts of the country like Seattle Washington, and Portland Oregon have increased rates of a form of depression known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder in their populations. During winter these regions of the country experience long periods of time seeing only a spot of sunshine. Inadequate exposure to the sun causes people to experience emotional depression, diminished immune response, and even premature aging.
After examining these risks, abiding by the daily cycle of the sun appears to do more good than harm. Even people as far back in history as Benjamin Franklin recognized the benefits of following the body’s natural responses to the daily patterns of light when he said, “Early to bed, Early to rise, Makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.”