This Nighttime Habit May Be Linked To Weight Gain, Study Finds

HealthSleeping with the TV on may make you gain weight			By Associated Press

A woman asleep while holding a TV remote.

Those who were exposed to artificial light at night were significantly more likely to have gained weight over the follow-up period, even after the researchers adjusted for inadequate sleep, diet, and how active the women were.

Light coming in from outside the room was associated with more modest weight gain, researchers found.

The results suggest that cutting off lights at bedtime could reduce women's chances of becoming obese.

The analysis, published Monday by the National Institute of Health, used questionnaire data from 43,722 women between the ages of 35 and 74. 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). "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".

The study identifies an association between nighttime light exposure and weight gain, but can't directly prove the former causes the latter - the researchers acknowledge that some other factor could account for the link.

The study researchers found that women who reported exposure to light at night while sleeping were more likely to gain weight and become obese over almost six years, compared with women who were not exposed to light at night.

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But their finding squares with other research suggesting artificial light disrupts our body's delicate chemistry, with grave knock-on effects.

"Evolutionarily we are supposed to be sleeping at night, in a dark place", said lead author Dale Sandler, a scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the National Institutes of Health. People should also turn off all electronics in their bedroom and dim their alarm clocks to avoid the glare of any bright lights.

Women who slept with a TV or light on in the room were 17% more likely to gain at least 11 pounds (5 kilograms) during the study, compared with the no-night-light group.

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

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.

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.

"The two most common strategies for obesity prevention are promoting healthy diets and increased exercise levels", researchers said.

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