Sleeping with your TV on could make you gain weight, study says

Kenny Tucker
June 14, 2019

"Humans are genetically adapted to a natural environment consisting of sunlight during the day and darkness at night", Chandra Jackson, Ph.D. and co-author of the study explained, "Exposure to artificial light at night may alter hormones and other biological processes in ways that raise the risk of health conditions like obesity".

At the start of the study, women were typically overweight but not yet obese, according to their body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight relative to height.

The researchers analysed health and lifestyle data on almost 44,000 USA women enrolled in an ongoing study seeking clues to causes of breast cancer. For example - the women who slept with the light or TV on were 22 percent more likely to put on weight - this could be because a lack of sleep makes you more hungry thanks to hormones that are released when you're exhausted.

The women's self-reported sleeping habits were put into four categories: no light, small nightlight in the room, light outside of the room, and light or television in the room.

The study wasn't a controlled experiment and so it can't prove whether or how exposure to artificial light at night might directly cause obesity.

"It's really important that you have that daytime-nighttime cycle, so that you appropriately regulate hormones, hormones that regulate your sleep, hormones that regulate your hunger, said lead author Dale Sandler, a scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of NIH".

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'These results suggest that exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping may be a risk factor for weight gain and development of overweight or obesity, ' the authors said.

They were also about 30 per cent more likely to become obese. "It's a pretty easy prevention effort to just turn off the lights before you go to bed", Ms Sandler said.

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

Exposure to blue light at night messes with your Circadian Rhythm aka your body clock. Researchers also lacked data on any changes in artificial light exposure at night over time that might have impacted the results. Health officials recommend taking TVs and other tech devices out of your bedroom in order to support a healthy sleeping environment.

Commenting on the paper, Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey in Britain said: "What is novel with this paper is that it is a longitudinal study comparing the weight of the same individuals at baseline and more than five years later".

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