Notes On... Chasing The Sun


I cross the road to be in direct sunlight. I visibly recoil and screw up my face if required to sit indoors when the star that gives us life is out. And I recently made it all the way to India to avoid that cold, dim week we had at the beginning of the month. Taking Linda Geddes' Chasing the Sun: The new science of sunlight for reading, I have a new-found respect for my obsession with that magical, fiery ball in the sky.

Before clocks and medicine and artificial lighting, the sun reigned supreme and largely governed our Circadian rhythms — the 24 hour(ish) cycle by which most people live. We slept when it was dark and hunted when it was light. We took cues to eat based on our exposure to sunlight. Add to that mix smartphones, ever-increasing screen-sizes and LED lighting and we can operate for hours longer — all day and all night if we want to — but, for Geddes, our bodies haven't had the chance to catch up and, perhaps, shouldn't be expected to.

The engaging science journo traverses the globe: from 24-hour Las Vegas, to Rjukan in Norway — a town that uses a giant mirror to reflect sunlight onto it in the dark Scandinavian months. Using history, science, NASA research and — probably most effectively — the experience of individuals, Geddes illustrates how light controls chemicals that regulate mood, immune cells and our response to food. Long story short: get lots of sunlight, especially in the mornings. Don't get burnt. And really don't be letting your phone drench you in blue light just before bed. Science says so. (KD)