Delayed dusk, Seattle schools and the Qom

Two studies of delayed dusk and its consequences

Sleep seems to be more and more in the news, the less and less we get!  The adverse effects of electric lights are by now well-known, but most studies are performed on volunteers in strictly controlled conditions.  Depicted here are two extraordinary studies that took place in the “natural environment” of human societies, taking advantage of changing conditions over space or time.

The first study compared subpopulations of the indigenous Qom people of far-northern Argentina.  Electricity has many benefits for developing societies, but sleep apparently is not one of them!  The second study was an exceptional example of science impacting policy-makers, and yielding data afterward to confirm the benefits.  The 2018 publication of the “Sleepmore in Seattle” study led to follow-up articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Seattle Times and NPR.

These studies were carried out by Dr. Horacio de la Iglesia at the University of Washington, and presented in his talk “Sleep after Natural and Electric Dusk” in our weekly Colloquium series at the Integrative Physiology (IPHY) Department at CU Boulder.