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Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  501 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
When it comes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression, everything you believe is a lie.

With research gleaned from the National Institutes of Health, T.S. Wiley and Bent Formby deliver staggering findings: Americans really are sick from being tired. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression are rising in our population. We’re literally dying for a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Atria Books (first published January 21st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,242)
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Sep 14, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Forget the haters, this is the ONLY book you will need for advice on leading a healthy lifestyle.

There's HEAPS of gems in here but the best I have found are:

- Get at least 9.5 hours of DARK sleep every night (i.e. when you wake up it should be dark, or dawn. Never sunny. yes, this means you have to go to sleep at like 9. But it is worth it.)

- Cut out all sugar from your diet.

- Cut out all vegetable oils from your diet. Use coconut oil, butter and olive oil instead. Canola (vegetable) oil is to
Jun 16, 2011 Lynn rated it really liked it
I heard about this book from reading Robb Wolf's "Paleo Solution" -- and some of this is nothing new. Firemen, factory workers, nurses, doctors and others who work night shifts are more likely to get cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. I had heard of this -- why I never knew exactly why. Now I know too much.

Pediatricians tell parents children need 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night because they grow when they sleep. Well I had heard this too -- and have tried valiantly to get my kids to sleep the
Oct 18, 2009 Dayna rated it liked it
This is one of those books that I wish I could give more stars to. It is fascinating, enlightening. The authors make a lot of valid points, which seem to be backed by a lot of research. There are nearly 100 pages of references listed in the endnotes. That is almost half of the total length of the actual body of work. (Add the suggested reading/bibliography and glossary to the endnotes, and the actual body of work really is only half of the entire book.) There were a couple of instances in which ...more
Caterina Fake
Jan 25, 2009 Caterina Fake rated it really liked it
Read on the recommendation of my friend Linda Stone, a polemical book about how the government in by both endorsing a high carb, low fat diet (you know the famous "food pyramid"?) and hiding the truth about sleep (we need a minimum of 9.5 hours of sleep for 7 months of the year) has made America the fattest, unhealthiest and richest society in the world.
Mar 15, 2009 Kim added it
Recommends it for: Everybody
Get in your cave. Now.
Diana Sandberg
Jun 21, 2009 Diana Sandberg rated it did not like it
A very frustrating book to read. The author tends to ramble; he also makes a great many statements that he doesn’t support with anything other than the power of his own assertion. But then, he does also provide references for some statements. I should say that he does have quite a lot of end notes after the text, grouped by chapter. There are, in fact, pages of them for each chapter. They are not, however, connected by footnote or in any other way to specific remarks in the text, so it’s actuall ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Clare rated it liked it
The lightbulb is why you're fat.

The lightbulb creates an artificial summer in our minds and fools our bodies into believing it's summer, which means we think we need to eat lots of food, even if we're not hungry, in anticipation of the upcoming winter.

Our obesity is killing us, but it's also nature's plan in that we're supposed to die off because of population growth. This scare-tactic book offers tons in the way of fear-mongering but very little of what I call "practical advice." For example,
This was a really interesting book, though some of the underlying philosophy (as opposed to the actual science) is alarmist, bordering on tinfoil-hat squad conspiracy theory fervency.

As a rule, people who have electricity don't get enough sleep. What sleep we do get is generally of poor quality, and can easily be disrupted by things both obvious (excess light in the room, unpredictable schedules, caffeine, too much screen time late at night, eating too soon before bedtime) and less obvious (the
May 25, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
I gave this book 5 stars because it has really made me think about the way I'm treating my body. You always hear from people that you should get more sleep but I'm willing to bet most people have just a rough understanding of why. A couple reasons why this book might be tough to read:

- The writing style has been commented on by other readers, the author can sometimes be offensive or crude but honestly I think that everyone should be able to look past this. It could have been done a different way
Mar 09, 2007 Lena rated it liked it
Lights out addresses the subject of the harm Americans are doing to their health by sleeping too little, sleeping in incomplete darkness, and eating as if summer went on all year long. It is not a pretty picture. Because the body is complex, it is also a rather complex picture. The authors give a great deal of scientific evidence to back up their assertions (half the book is bibliography) and they make a good case for getting more sleep in a well-darkened room. My strongest reason for not giving ...more
Sep 16, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
The book starts out kind of pseudo-sciencey, but really follows through. Lights Out gave me multiple "HOLY #($@" epiphanies, and while I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in looking/feeling/performing better, I would absolutely recommend reading Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories or Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint first because T.S. Wiley tends to assume that you're already on the low-carb / paleo / primal bandwagon and doesn't justify those principles very well in h ...more
Jul 22, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book a lot till my husband pointed out T.S. Wiley is a fraud (which he did as soon as I finished this 300+ page book)! However, there are nuggets of useful suggestions in this book like we all need to get more sleep and staying away from lighted computer screens/tvs before going to bed help us sleep. But some of the stuff she says sounds extremely wacky- stay up all day in the summer and sleep all winter? Sure that may have been the lifestyle of some European pre-historic peoples bu ...more
Mar 27, 2007 Dave rated it it was ok
This book makes an overwhelming case that modern technology is disrupting humanity's sleep. They really flog it way beyond necessity. I can sum their arguments as such:
- If you need an alarm to wake up in the morning, then what you really need is more sleep.
- Sleep somewhere that's as dark and quiet as possible.
- Try to limit your exposure to strong lighting before you go to bed.
- Some people need more sleep, some less. Get as much as your body needs, don't rely on some other made-up statistic t
A lifelong insomniac, my interest was piqued when one of my book club members chose "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival" as her September pick. Before I started reading it, I was assuming that it's premise would be that as it gets dark outside, we should start using less lights inside, the dimmer you can get away with the better. As a natural healthcare practitioner, the number one thing I recommend to people with trouble sleeping is sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is basically behavioral health ...more
Dane Findley
Apr 26, 2009 Dane Findley rated it really liked it
It seems this book did not get the respect it deserved. It's one of the few books on fat loss and health-improvement that truly contains new information. My sense was that the book's findings -- with its hard-to-hear research and uneasy answers -- are why it wasn't a bigger bestseller. Still, I found it very helpful.
Sergei Moska
May 21, 2011 Sergei Moska rated it did not like it
Utter, utter crap. One of the worst books I have ever read on any subject. It's a shame, because the thesis is interesting. The problem is the writing. You need to read it to appreciate how annoying it is.
Mindi Rosser
Apr 15, 2011 Mindi Rosser rated it it was amazing
Are you prone to staying up late at night to catch the 10:00 News Broadcast? Maybe you should start getting to bed a bit earlier...just maybe.

T.S. Wiley proposes simple but lifestyle-shifting techniques to enhance our lifespan and corresponding health levels. Her theory is that our population is living sub-optimally due to our disdain for seasonal sleep cycles, year-round higher-carb intake, and our refusal to turn off the lights.

Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

"Sleeping controls eating
Mar 03, 2008 Angela rated it liked it
So far, this researcher from the Sansum Medical Research Institute in Santa Barbara has some incrdeible theories connecting Americans' sleep-deprivation habits, carbohydrate over-consumption, and prevelant major diseases. It's an evolutionary prespective on how the light bulb has lead us away from our circadian rhythms and consequently caused every major illness we humans suffer from.

I don't particularly care for her crude writing style, but I think everyone should check out her arguments (some
Feb 06, 2013 Betty rated it liked it
This book has tons of information that is backed up with footnotes. Half the book is citations. I like that. The only thing is that the tone of the book vacillates between hysterical and flippant. The flippant comments are quite funny sometimes but are a little inappropriate, and the hysterical tone of some of his other statements makes it hard to take him seriously despite his use of footnotes.

Unfortunate he tends to repeat himself and he doesn't give a lot of information about how to apply the
Dec 07, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a wealth of information about how different hormones in the body work, how sleep affects those hormones, and therefore how sleep affects weight, disease, and mental health. A few drawbacks: It's 10 years old, so some of the assumptions about our evolutionary history that may have been common sense a decade ago are not so clear. There's a few moments of New Age faith (thankfully just a few). And there's no studies done on following their prescription to see if it works. (At least 10 ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Regina rated it liked it
Do you want to know the reason why all the famous health gurus say to go to bed before 10? Well, its not just a random time, and if you're like me and you want to no all the biochemistry behind it, then this book is going to be a good read for you. I have been plagued by uncontrollable sugar cravings at night and in my search for what causes that I found this book. There is definitely a sleep-sugar connection and this book explains it.

On the other hand, this book is a hard read, the author is go
Aug 11, 2015 Val rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, lifestyle
A bit of wackery and a lot of conspiracy theories, but some common sense as well. Although I may not agree with everything written here, I am encouraged to get more sleep. The explanations as to why and how seem plausible mostly..... If you don't want to read it all, then concentrate on this....go to bed earlier!
May 15, 2015 Nobie rated it liked it
I'm writing these comments 2 years after reading the book.

As I recall, the book had good, pragmatic recommendations, but lacked sound arguments for all of the claims.

My suggestsion: skim it, take the recommendations, and see how they work for you.
Des Golden
Aug 25, 2015 Des Golden rated it it was ok
- thought provoking
- Some interesting nuggets with regard to sleep
- Poorly written, no coherent structure.
- A lot of big claims in absence of scientific data
- Heavily referenced but difficult to link claims to references
May 06, 2012 Lewis rated it liked it
Recommended to Lewis by: Teddy Kim
The text on the cover about how crucial sleep is to one's health and happiness drew me in. If I can feel well just by sleeping more, count me in. I practice CrossFit and eat paleo as much as possible, so sleeping in circadian rhythm makes sense. The narrative of the book is quite abysmal, but the science is pretty interesting. The authors claim that our low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is unhealthy. Further, the stress of our exercise routines and long work days and late nights really mess with o ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Daniel rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Ugh. I have a high tolerance for bad writing and typically finish every book that I start, but this one was so terrible that I gave up. I kept hoping that Wiley would present a clear claim at some point and then review the research supporting and contradicting it, but that still hadn't happened a quarter of the way in, and flipping ahead didn't give me hope that it ever would. Instead, I got a stream of paragraphs jumping from Thomas Edison to stress hormones to Daisyworld to string theory and s ...more
Jul 15, 2010 Mitzi rated it really liked it
I read this as part of my references for an article on stress-related diseases of women (I think) that I was writing for a glossy magazine. Although I barely had time to go through the entire book that first time, the theories made a lot of sense and left enough impact for me to pick the book up again over three years after.

I am living testament of how sleep deprivation (I love to stay up late, but can't always wake up late because I have a family to take care of) can wreak havoc on one's health
Mar 10, 2010 Kristin rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics-of-food
I wish this book had been better written, because I might have been able to read it seriously and learned something from it. Instead, it was known as "the crazy book" at our house. It does seem that data support some sort of relation among carbs, lack of sleep, diabetes, and cancer. However, the authors didn't have time to write a careful, professional literature review. They were much too busy mixing metaphors and implicating the US government in a plot to kill all of us with the American Heart ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: topical, good-reads
Because of this book I have been wearing a sleep mask at night since 2008. I have been having much deeper sleep. I think I need to read it again for the information about sugar and diabetes. I remember most the effect of small amounts of light interfering with good sleep. I walk into my darkened computer room at night and am amazed how many little lights come from our technology and how bright they are combined.

Very good information.
Jenny Rebecca
I got this book because I suffer from SADD and am doing all the research I can on how to not go through it this coming winter. This book was truly an eye-opener (no pun intended) about sleep deprivation. While some of this book felt a little 'conspiracy theory' at times, there were some honest truths in there too. I will definately be putting some of the reccomended ideas into my routine in the following months.
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“All of the diseases that modern medicine declares war on never seem to touch any of those ninety-year-old farmers who have lived on bacon and eggs and butter for almost a century. The media, following current low-fat medical wisdom, calls that a paradox. We don't.” 2 likes
“In the January 12, 1998, issue of U.S. News and World Report, the head of the Harvard School of Public Health's department of nutrition, a very fickle man, Walter Willet, was queried about a low-fat diet's failure to cure any diseases or save any lives. His weak reply, “It was just a hypothesis to begin with,” showed no shame. That hypothesis has cost more lives than the last two world wars and the Vietnam conflict put together. Just check the American Cancer Society's and American Heart Association's statistics for the last three decades.” 2 likes
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