Many of us don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours we need each night and struggle to get up in the mornings – especially on work days. But it isn’t only our quantity of sleep that’s affected. Since the discovery that light (particularly blue light, emanating from devices like smartphones) can affect our biological clocks, evidence has been building that exposure to even low levels of light in the evening or at the night is disrupting our sleep quality, as well.
So what would happen if we turned off the lights? Would it improve our sleep or have other benefits? And how easy would this be to achieve in a modern city?
It is this eye for the humanizing detail that makes Fountain’s book such a pleasure to read, and anecdotes such as this serve as a welcome reminder that as lofty a concept as knowledge is, it comes to life in the smallest moments of human discovery and experience. After all, great scientific progress may rely on data and measurements, but it can’t be separated from history, personality, coincidence, catastrophe, and — just maybe — a change of clothes.
For Amy Chozick and Jennifer Palmieri, the world ended early on 9 November 2016, when Hillary Clinton tersely phoned Donald Trump to concede defeat. Chozick had spent a decade reporting on Hillary for the New York Times; Palmieri served as her “communications director”, although – as Chozick discloses – she balked at communicating the bad news to her boss on election night.
Thanks to therapeutic book contracts, both women are currently in recovery, having reacted differently to their psychic trial. Palmieri, awash in tears but trying to be brave, now fantasises about what might have been by composing an open letter to a future female president whose identity is as yet unknown. Aghast at the errors of an overconfident campaign, Chozick revisits the past to analyse what went wrong, or – since rage goads her to fire off a fusillade of spluttering expletives – WTF happened.