Saturday, 15 June, 2019

Sleeping with artificial lights on can cause women to gain weight

Keeping Your TV on at Night May Lead to Weight Gain Credit Shutterstock
Samantha Long | 13 June, 2019, 23:08

Looking at health and lifestyle data from almost 44,000 US women, researchers found that those who slept with TVs or lights on gained at least 11 pounds over five years and were 30 percent more likely to become obese.

Published Monday in the JAMA Internal Medicine, the National Institutes of Health report isn't concrete proof but builds on other evidence that artificial light messes with our metabolism.

For middle-aged and older women, sleeping with the television or lights on has been linked with higher odds of becoming obese, in a recent USA study. The women, who were enrolled in the Sister Study group, had no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease and weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant at the study's start.

But researchers said they hoped the study will give women who sleep with artificial light at night a way to improve their health.

Can't catch some sleep without the television on at night?

Researchers also noted other factors, like exposure to artificial light at night can be reflective of unhealthy behaviour, such as eating badly, sedentary lifestyle or stress, and socioeconomic disadvantage.

"Even with the lights off, our bedrooms are often aglow at night from luminous clocks, light-emitting diodes from electronic devices, and outside lighting that seeps through porous curtains and shades", Gangwisch said.

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The research showed that women who slept with a television or other light on in the same room at night were 17 percent more likely to have gained 11 pounds or more over the five-year follow-up period than those who slept with a small night light. The association with having light coming from outside the room was more modest.

Previous studies have found a link between exposure to light at night and obesity in humans.

"Public health strategies to decrease obesity might consider interventions aimed at reducing ALAN while sleeping", wrote Dale Sandler and Yong-Moon Mark Park of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina and coauthors.

Factors were taken into account, such as the place of domicile of the person (rural or urban), their level of income and the initial weight, in order to compare them to women in situations as similar as possible.

Dr. Phyllis Zee, an expert in sleep and circadian rhythm disorders at Chicago's Northwestern University, said the study is important because it highlights a behavior that can be easily changed to reduce the risk of gaining weight.

'We know from experimental studies in people that light at night affects our metabolism in ways that are consistent with increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

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