Study links light exposure during sleep to weight gain in women

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

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

"These results suggest that exposure to [artificial light at night] while sleeping may be a risk factor for weight gain and development of overweight or obesity", the researchers conclude.

Using this information, the scientists were able to study obesity and weight gain in women exposed to artificial light at night with women who reported sleeping in dark rooms.

The questionnaire included questions about exposure to light during sleep, and participants indicated whether they slept with no light, a small night light, light outside of the room, or a light or television on in the room.

"Public health strategies to reduce obesity may consider interventions aimed at reducing ALAN while asleep", wrote co-authors of the study, Dale Sandler and Yong-Moon Mark Park of the National Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences, in North Carolina. Shorter sleep could prompt you to exercise less and eat more, he noted.

However, researchers were quick to point out that exposure to artificial light at night can be indicative of socioeconomic disadvantage or unhealthy behaviors, which could contribute to weight gain and obesity.

The study involved analyzing data on 43,722 women, aged 35 to 74, in the United States.

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A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, while 25 to 29.9 is overweight, 30 or above is obese and 40 or higher is severely or morbidly obese. The research was anything but a controlled test thus it can't demonstrate whether or how the exposure to fake light during the evening may straightforwardly cause weight gain.

Sleeping amid the artificial glow of televisions, laptops, smartphones and even lamps may increase the likelihood of female obesity, a new study finds. "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". Many - about 17,000 - slept with a nightlight in the room, while more than 13,000 left a light on outside the bedroom and about 5,000 slept with a television or light on in the bedroom.

Yet the study findings appear to fall in line with separate research - including one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2016, that linked increased light exposure at night with a 10% increase in body mass index over a 10-year period in older adults.

However, commenting on the study, Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, said, "The findings make flawless biological sense".

"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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