It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation makes for a cranky person, but it’s been since my kids were young that I was forced to think about how much I depend upon light, or the absence of it, to regulate my energy and mood via a good sleep.
Take for example, too much light and at the wrong time. A new neighbour moved into our urban forest and in their fresh homeowner glee, they’d been flipping every switch including those for a heated driveway and exterior “safety” lighting not used for years. Gently, we tried to share that the commercial grade and angle of their lights was akin to us living on the landing strip at Pearson international. Shining into our kitchen and our bedroom, we’d been literally caught in the headlight, until they go to bed and that is if they remember to turn the lights off.
Although there has been a general reduction in urban light pollution, in new residences it’s been on the increase for the past ten years. Have you noticed streets where beige stucco monster homes now feature exterior lighting that is as blindingly ridiculous as is the size of the homes. Lighting companies pitch security, safety and the enhancement of architectural features, but it’s really all about the vanity of the homeowner. I’m sure that Not So Big architectural guru Sarah Susanka would concur that this drama is only good for about two nanoseconds and followed by a family and guests who don’t understand why they feel so out of sorts in and among these houses including their own.
The City of Mississauga has a bylaw for Light Nuisance and if convicted the homeowner is liable to a fine of up to $10,000. After some months with ragged sleep, I thought we were going to take our neighbour to the mat. I was crushed more about that than being sleep deprived. A final midnight visit by my dear husband to our shocked neighbour revealed not that they were indifferent, just distracted. A simple redirection of the fixture downward and a timer to go off at 10:30 p.m. made a huge difference. That plus a heartfelt in-person apology got them back on my Christmas list.
If you are any kind of neighbour, take some time. See your house from your neighbour’s point of view. Assess whether it’s really your security, safety or whether it’s just your ego at risk if you remove unnecessary and unwanted lighting from the exterior of your home, cottage or business. I guarantee you’ll see stars!