Medicine

Artificial light during sleep linked to weight gain in women

Artificial light during sleep linked to weight gain in women

After nearly six years of follow-up, women who slept with a television or light on in the room were 22 percent more likely to be overweight and 33 percent more likely to be obese than women who slept in total darkness without even a nightlight or the glow from an alarm clock.

Women, beware: Sleeping with a light on or the TV going in your bedroom could make you put on weight.

Among the women, the researchers found that sleeping with a television or light on in the room was associated with gaining five kilograms or more, a BMI increase of at least 10%, and a higher risk of being overweight or obese, compared with being exposed to no artificial light during sleep.

The women were classified according to their level of exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN), which came from a variety of sources, from small nightlights or clock radios to light shining in from the street to televisions or room lights.

The National Institutes of Health study published today isn't proof, but it bolsters evidence suggesting that too much exposure to light at night could pose health risks.

It also found that women who slept around artificial light were 22 per cent more likely to become newly overweight during the period, and 33 per cent more likely to become newly obese.

More news: New Orleans ‘not enamored’ by Knicks’ offer for Anthony Davis

High light exposure may also "reflect a constellation of measures of socioeconomic disadvantage and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, all of which could contribute to weight gain and obesity". Shorter sleep could prompt you to exercise less and eat more, he noted. The women were asked about their sleep habits and whether they slept in total darkness or in the presence of artificial light from a television or nightlight.

The study involved analyzing data on 43,722 women, aged 35 to 74, in the United States. "This study highlights the importance of artificial light at night and gives women who sleep with lights or the television on a way to improve their health".

For those concerned by the findings, Jackson says, the solution is simple: cut the lights - and devices - before bed. According to a new study, this could be the reason why you're gaining weight.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, said: "We know that light in the late evening will delay our body clocks".

Artificial light exposure at night from things like streetlights, storefronts, and even cell phone use, for example, can disrupt the natural light-dark cycle of circadian rhythms and suppress the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.

He added: "These new findings won't change the advice to maintain good sleep hygiene, and avoid light and electronic distractions in the bedroom, but they add further strength to the case for this advice".


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