Sleeping With Your TV Or Laptop On Could Lead To Obesity

Light at night while sleeping

In other words, exposure to light at night might represent a "constellation" of factors, including those related to unhealthy behaviors, "all of which could contribute to weight gain and obesity", the authors said.

Dozing off to late-night TV or sleeping with other lights on may mix up your metabolism and lead to weight gain and even obesity, a provocative but preliminary USA research suggests.

Mounting research suggests disrupting that typical sleep-wake cycle may contribute to poor health, increasing risks for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity.

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

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from almost 44,000 women ages 35 to 74 from all 50 USA states. Participants were not shift workers, daytime sleepers, or pregnant when the study began (and no men were included, so we don't know if these findings apply to them too).

To get a better idea of how artificial light exposure at night affects women's weight, researchers logged participants' weight, height, waist and hip circumference, and body mass index measurements at the beginning of the study, and compared it to the same data gathered five years later. The study questionnaire asked whether the women slept with no light, a small nightlight, light outside of the room, or a light or television on in the room. Light coming in from the outside didn't appear to have significant effects on weight, while bedroom light did.

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"While sleeping with a small night light was not associated with putting on pounds, researchers found that women who slept with a room light or television on were 17 percent more likely to have gained approximately 11 pounds or more during the study's follow-up period". However, their findings did not change when analyses controlled for characteristics that may be associated with exposure to light at night.

"Exposure to artificial light at night may alter hormones and other biological processes in ways that raise the risk of health conditions like obesity".

Sandler said she is confident that the added weight wasn't from things like snacking at night, because the analysis accounted for other variables that could have led to weight gain such as diet, physical activity and sleep duration. And the level of artificial light seemed to matter, Park said.

Researchers also said that while not getting enough sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity, it didn't explain the link between sleeping with artificial light and weight.

Respondents reported exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN) from televisions, smart phones, computers, e-readers and tablets, which emit a short wavelength-enriched light or "blue light" that previous research has linked to melatonin suppression and circadian disruption.

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