Bedroom Light at Night Might Boost Women's Weight

Women exposed to artificial light at night were more likely to gain weight

Lack of sleep has always been associated with obesity, but until now, the association between artificial light exposure while sleeping and weight gain has been unknown.

According to their new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, snoozing with the lights and television on is "significantly associated" with weight gain and obesity.

The researchers analysed health and lifestyle data on almost 44,000 U.S. women enrolled in an ongoing study seeking clues to causes of breast cancer.

Mounting research suggests disrupting that typical sleep-wake cycle may contribute to poor health, increasing risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity. That being said, a direct link between artificial light in a bedroom and overall weight gain is still a bit startling to see.

Daily exposure to light and darkness helps maintain our 24-hour body clock, which regulates metabolism, sleep-promoting hormones, blood pressure, and other bodily functions. "It is a medical necessity on par with our food and our fitness". They weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant when the study began.

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The scientists used weight, height, waist and hip circumference, and body mass index measurements taken at baseline, as well as self-reported information on weight at baseline and follow-up five years later.

At their first check-in, the women were asked to report on their light exposure while they slept - whether they kept lights on in their rooms or in other rooms, whether light shone in through the windows, whether they slept with a TV on, and even from low-light sources such as clock radios. Sleeping with a light on outside the room was associated with only slight increases in weight.

"Our findings. suggest that lowering exposure to [artificial night at light] while sleeping may be a useful intervention for obesity prevention", researchers said.

The study found that women were 17 percent more likely to have gained 11 pounds or more over a five-year period if they slept with a television or other light on in the room than those who slept in dark rooms or with a small nightlight.

When controlling for other characteristics that may be associated with increased artificial light exposure at night, like age, race, having an older spouse or children in the house, socioeconomic status, calorie consumption and physical activity, the researchers' findings did not change. Also, the study did not include men. He said the research suggests a viable public health strategy to reduce obesity incidence in women. "It seems reasonable to advise people not to sleep with lights on", Park and Sandler said. "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". NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

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