To some extent ... I expect most people got their heads down. And a few followed other pursuits that are perennially popular and don't need much light, such as drinking.
Originally Posted by Benpercent
I've got a copy of At Day's Close, which is a fascinating history of nighttime. It tells how some people liked to get up during the night, after sleeping for awhile, and do this or that before returning to bed. We know this from personal letters and so forth. Certainly some people wrote:
Amazon.com: At Day's Close: Night in Times Past (9780393329018): A. Roger Ekirch: Books
I guess the amount of light you gets depends on how many candles you burn. And, then again, they may have had a fire going, too.
Poor people may have used rushlights rather than candles on grounds of cost. However, I recall that indefatigable diarist Gilbert White writing that his poorer parishioners would often buy candles rather than use rushlights, although people of middling income like White himself were sometimes reluctant to do so.
I think people did what they wanted, or could, depending on their habits, the price of lighting and so on. Or you might be in a situation where you had to pay for lighting materials so that you could pursue a trade after the hours of darkness. People would sit up over their work after dark, women over sewing, for example, if they needed the income from that.
You might try pure beeswax candles. They burn cleaner than candles made from tallow, leaving no residue and no unpleasant smell. They might possibly be a bit brighter, although I've never thought to compare that. I guess yellow or red colored bulbs in tablelamps are more practical, if less atmospheric.
I got an oil lamp and LOVE it. It's the perfect solution. Very, very bright for any reading and writing, without any worries as to it petering out too soon or being unable to burn sufficiently. I might get another one for "stereo" light, though it's probably unnecessary. I think this is all I need.
Our bodies have developed to produce serotonin in the daytime and melatonin in the nighttime. Serotonin, among other things, makes us wakeful while melatonin makes us tired. One huge thing that influences serotonin secretion is the blue portion of the light spectrum -- blue light.
Originally Posted by fuzzynavel
That means that if you expose yourself to blue light sources at night, such as from your computer, you can trick your body into thinking it's daytime and secrete serotonin, which can drastically hurt your sleep.
Hence, I've been looking for better lighting sources for my night reading. Flames, I've heard, don't emit blue light at *all*, which is why I've been going to candles and oil lamps. I can read however much I want in the flame light and still get a great night's rest.
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