The Sleep Habit That Increases Obesity Odds

If you sleep with the soft, flickering light of television or with the modest glow of a small nightlight illuminating your room, you may be doing your body more harm than you realize. A new study has linked weight gain and obesity with sleeping with a light on. According to the study, women who sleep while bathed in artificial light gained, on average, 11 pounds over a five-year period.

What’s more, the study showed a 33% increased chance of becoming obese. Adverse effects directly correlated with the amount of light exposure. Women who were exposed to more than one type of artificial light at night were the most adversely affected. Women who slept in optimal sleeping conditions were the least affected. Below, we will talk about how we've learned to use this knowledge to our advantage.

Study Results

Light plays a huge role in sleep patterns and metabolic processes. In 2016, a study of seniors showed that increased light exposure in the evening or nighttime along with decreased morning light exposure played a major role in the development of obesity in those individuals. A new study confirms those findings. After following more than 43,000 women over the course of several years, researchers have found that sleeping with a light on may cause weight gain and obesity.

But how? Light at night throws off the body’s natural clock and metabolic schedule. Additionally, it wreaks havoc with one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. The study showed that women who slept with a light on were less likely to have consistent sleep patterns, got less sleep overall and took more naps. Poor sleep has long been associated with significant weight gain.   

How Much Light Is Too Much Light?

Researchers categorized the data based on how much light exposure each participant received each night. Participants who had the most light exposure, such as that from television, had more sleep and weight-gain issues than those who had limited light exposure, such as that from a hall nightlight. However, everyone who was exposed to light suffered some adverse effects. The only participants who fared well were those who created optimal sleeping conditions.

How to Create Optimal Sleeping Conditions

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a cool, dark room is the best environment for sleep. To create optimal sleep conditions, turn off all lights and consider using blackout curtains and/or a sleeping mask. Create white noise through the use of a fan or noise machine. Lower the temp. The best temperature for sleeping ranges from 60 to 67 degrees. Also, take steps to reduce light exposure in the hours and minutes before bedtime.  

It turns out that the healthiest, most restorative sleep takes place in a pitch-black room. So that's what we're all aiming for. Guess it's time to look into blackout curtains.

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7/17/2019 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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I turn out all the lights, but! I open the shades and the light from the lamp post outside shines in the window all night. I guess I should keep the shades drawn???
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