Each day, from the time the sun comes up, is racing towards darkness. The sun always seems to set quicker than we thought. We still have things to do. We still need to work and move. But what is really happening when the sun sets? The earth revolves around the sun, but more importantly, the people of earth revolve around the sun. It is crucial to life and yet we watch it disappear each and every day.
Changes in Our Environment
In reality, the sun never disappears. As we rotate, the sun shines on a different part of the earth at different times. Although this is true, there are some changes that happen where we are when the sun goes down. Throughout the day, every surface in the environment around you is being hit by rays from the sun. The ground is capturing and holding the heat, plants are performing photosynthesis, life is thriving and growing and moving.
But then, night comes and everything changes. When the sun goes down, the ground begins to release the heat. The environment around you gets cooler. Plants begin to rely on the energy stores they created earlier in the day.
Even nocturnal animals, who have been sleeping all day, emerge from their slumber and begin to roam the earth.
Nature around us changes drastically when the sun goes down. So many animals and natural processes rely heavily on upon the sun and the energy it provides.
The Cycle: From Dawn to Dusk
Another part of our lives that are profoundly impacted by the sun is our circadian rhythm. We function based on the cycles of light and darkness that occur naturally on the earth. Ancient people, who did not have artificial light, had a healthy and unaffected circadian rhythm. This means that when the sun went down in their day, they went to sleep. It makes sense that if you can’t see or only have a small fire, that you would stop your daily activities when the sun goes down.
Many scientists even theorize that this longer period of 10-12 hours was not spent entirely asleep. People would sleep 4 hours and then wake up for a while before finishing with another 4- hour stretch of sleep. That contrasts tremendously with people today. Artificial light has made it possible to see and work at any time of the night. Someone can stay up all night studying, walk around town with street lamps and perform any other task they would normally do during the day.
We have full control of our circadian rhythm and can heavily alter it to fit our own needs and desires.
Darkness Does Not Mean the World Stops
Clearly, there are a lot of things that happen when the sun goes down. The environment around us changes, plants and animals are deeply affected, and we get a cool break from the heat. However, humans have definitely altered the way things work. Artificial light has broken up traditional cycles of living and the modern world thrives on the productivity that comes from extended work days. The sun may set on our day and change the earth around us, but it is easy to see that humans don’t stop when the sun goes down.