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Want to stay slim? Turn your phone, TV and lights off before bed, scientists say

Do you want to stay slim? Turn off your phone, TV and lights before going to bed and sleep with a mask, scientists say

  • Northwestern researchers have found a link between light exposure and obesity
  • Research shows that 40.7% of people exposed to light before bedtime were obese
  • Only 26.7% of the group not exposed to light for five hours were obese

Turn off your phone, TV and lights before going to bed if you want to stay slim.

Scientists have once again discovered a link between light exposure during sleep and obesity.

The final evidence, purely observation, does not prove that bright flashes while your eyes are closed make you fat. But the evidence that light at night causes weight gain is mounting quickly.

Academics recommend that people wear masks and put blackout curtains on their windows at night, and turn off their devices.

And people who need a light, such as the elderly, should only use a dimmed light that is close to the floor.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois have discovered a link between light exposure during sleep and obesity

Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois have discovered a link between light exposure during sleep and obesity


Circadian rhythms last about 24 hours.

They differ from person to person – that’s why some people are ‘morning people’ and others ‘night owls’.

Natural factors in the body produce circadian rhythms and environmental signals such as daylight.

Irregular rhythms have been linked to several chronic health problems, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes and depression.

Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that affects the circadian rhythm and aids sleep.

Melatonin levels rise in the evening and remain high throughout the night, promoting sleep.

Artificial light and electronics with blue wavelengths trick the mind into thinking it’s daytime.

How can you reduce your exposure?

  • Use dim red lights, which have the least effect on melatonin, for nighttime lighting.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens from two to three hours before bedtime.
  • If you work night shifts or use a lot of electronic devices at night, there are glasses and apps that can filter out the blue light.
  • Check if your phone settings have a night setting that automatically shifts the screen to warmer colors at sunset.

With a BMI over 30 — defined as obesity — people are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

About a quarter of adults are obese in England, but the prevalence is closer to 40 percent in the US, figures suggest.

Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois followed 552 people ages 63 to 84 in their study, published in the journal SLEEP

Although the study only looked at older people, previous research has shown similar effects in younger generations.

Neurologist Dr. Minjee Kim, author of the study, said: ‘Whether it’s from your smartphone, leaving a TV on at night, or light pollution in a major city, we live among an abundant number of artificial light sources available 24 hours a day. to be. day.’

Fellow author Dr. Phyllis Zee, a sleep medicine expert, said, “It’s important that people avoid or minimize the amount of light during sleep.”

All volunteers were asked to track their light exposure – including at night – for a week.

Less than half consistently had a five-hour period of darkness, which shocked the researchers.

dr. Kim and colleagues then checked whether the participants were obese, had diabetes, or had high blood pressure to discover a link.

The results showed that 40.7 percent of people exposed to light within the five-hour period were obese, compared with 26.7 percent in the no-light group.

About 17.8 percent in the light exposure group had diabetes, twice as much as the other cohort (9.8 percent). A similar difference was found between the groups when it came to the degree of hypertension.

The differences were found to be significant when other potential risk factors were taken into account.

The study was observational, meaning the team was unable to prove that exposure to light caused obesity, diabetes or hypertension.

However, experts think that falling asleep with the light on can confuse the biological clock. This can disrupt hormone levels, which has a knock-on effect that makes people crave more food.

But other experts have argued that the light from Kindles and iPads is much dimmer than natural light at dawn. They say the problem stems from the heightened mental alertness required to use the devices.

Further research is needed to prove the long-term effects of staring at screens at night on weight gain and associated conditions, they said.

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