Women sleeping with artificial light more likely to gain weight

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Researchers followed 43,722 women aged between 35 and 74 years old in the USA over a period of five years.

Sleeping with a television or light on in the room may be a risk factor for gaining weight or developing obesity, according to scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

In the current study, women who slept with a television or light on in their room were more likely to have a BMI that put them in the overweight or obese range and to experience at least a 10 percent increase in BMI during the study than women who slept in total darkness.

In analyzing the health and lifestyle data on almost 44,000 USA women enrolled in an ongoing breast cancer study, scientists discovered that those who reported sleeping at night in a room with a television on or a light were more likely to gain at least 11 pounds over about five years than those who slept in darkness.

Published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, the research by a team at the National Institutes of Health is the first to find an association between artificial light exposure and weight gain in women.

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Can't catch some sleep without the television on at night? While the study doesn't prove that sleeping with a light on causes weight gain, it suggests the two may be linked, the researchers said.

More research is needed to better understand the link and determine whether reducing light at night may prevent obesity, the authors concluded.

"Our findings. suggest that lowering exposure to [artificial night at light] while sleeping may be a useful intervention for obesity prevention", researchers said. The women, who were enrolled in the Sister Study group, had no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease and weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant at the study's start.

Many - around 17,000 - fell asleep with a nightlight in the room, while in excess of 13,000 remaining a light on outside the room and around 5,000 laid down with a TV or light on in the room. After just about six years of tracking, women who fell asleep with a light or television on in the room were 22% bound to be overweight and 33% bound to be hefty than the ones who dozed in complete dark without even a nightlight or the shine from a morning timer.

Factors were taken into account, such as the place of domicile of the person (rural or urban), their level of income and the initial weight, in order to compare them to women in situations as similar as possible. People should also turn off all electronics in their bedroom and dim their alarm clocks to avoid the glare of any bright lights. "We know from experimental studies in people that light at night affects our metabolism in ways that are consistent with increased risk of metabolic syndrome", he said.

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