||This article addresses the charge that the introduction of the electric light in the late nineteenth century increased disruptions to the human body's biological processes and interfered with the oscillating sleeping–waking cycle. By considering the nineteenth century research into the factors that motivate and disrupt sleep in concert with contemporary discussions of the physiology of street lighting, this article exposes how social and political forces shaped the impact of artificial light on sleep and, more perniciously, on bodily autonomy. As a close reading of artificial light in three influential dystopian novels building on these historical contexts demonstrates, dystopian fiction challenges the commonplace assumption that the advent of the electric light, or of widespread street lighting in public urban spaces, posed an immediate or inherent threat to sleep. Beginning with H. G. Wells's The Sleeper Awakes (1899), in which the eponymous sleeper emerges from a cataleptic trance into a future in which electric light and power are used to control the populace, representations of artificial light in early dystopian fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries depict a nightmare of total illumination in which the state exerted its control over the individual. In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), constant artificial illumination plays a vital role in the chemical and behavioural conditioning undergone by individuals in a post-Fordian world. George Orwell intensifies this relationship between light and individual autonomy in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), where access to electric current (and thus light) is limited at certain times of the day, brownouts and electrical rationing occur intermittently, and total illumination is used to torture and reprogram individuals believed to have betrayed Big Brother.