Light at Night Tied to Obesity Risk in Women

If you have a habit of falling asleep in front of the television – take note. A recent study says exposure to artificial light at night may be putting your health at risk.

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CLEVELAND – If you have a habit of falling asleep in front of the television – take note: according to one recent study, exposure to artificial light at night may be putting your health at risk.

The study looked at data on 43,722 women between the ages of 35-74.

Researchers studied different forms of light exposure at night – from television light, to night lights, to light shining in through the window.

“Essentially, they found there was a strong relationship of artificial light at night exposure and overweight and obesity. Specifically, sleeping with a television or a light in the room was associated with a more than 10 pound weight gain over time,” said Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study. 

Television light was especially associated with becoming overweight or even obese.

Dr. Mehra said previously published research has shown getting less sleep and having prolonged onset of sleep were also related to weight gain and obesity.

However, even after taking these factors into consideration, there was still a relationship between the light and obesity.

Dr. Mehra often advises people to avoid watching TV at night, and to keep their rooms dark, but she said this study provides evidence as to why it’s a good idea to follow these recommendations.

“Really try to reduce, or minimize, the time you are spending on electronic devices, or watching TV,” she said. “Make sure that the bedroom is dark when you’re sleeping, and do all you can to minimize artificial light exposure at night.” 

Dr. Mehra said other studies have shown artificial light exposure does have an effect on our circadian rhythms, which then sets us up for metabolic disorders.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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