For much of human history, people have lived in the dark. The sun shines for only half the day, or less—lesser still during winter. So everything that required good visibility, including sewing, embroidery, reading and writing was accomplished while there was still daylight. But that didn’t mean people retired to bed early. In 18th century London, shops were often open till ten at night. Balls went on till two or three in the morning lighted only by candle chandeliers.