Sleeping with the TV on is linked to weight gain, study says

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 11, 2019

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.

Women who slept with a light on were 17% more likely to gain around 5kg or more over five years, the study found.

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

The research, which was published online June 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine, is the first to find an association between any exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping and weight gain in women.

The research team gathered questionnaire data from 43,722 women who participated in the Sister Study, which examines the risk factors for diseases such as breast cancer. They weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant when the study began.

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.

They were also unable to disentangle the relationship between ALAN and factors such as an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress and other sleep characteristics - nor did they ask women why they slept with a light on.

"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. That being said, a direct link between artificial light in a bedroom and overall weight gain is still a bit startling to see.

"For example, using a small nightlight was not associated with weight gain, whereas women who slept with a light or television on were", he explained.

"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".

Animal research and smaller studies in humans have linked prolonged light exposure with weight gain.

This sleep study comes on the heels of another study that found irregular sleep patterns, including not going to bed and waking up at the same time each day or getting different amounts of sleep each night, can put people at a higher risk for obesity, heart disease, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders.

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

Getting enough quality sleep every night is a tip at the top of any healthy living checklist, and lack of sleep has indeed been associated with a variety of conditions including obesity.

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