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Sleeping with light linked to higher risk of diabetes, obesity


  • Researchers have discovered that sleeping with even a tiny quantity of light can influence one’s well being.
  • The findings recommend light publicity throughout sleep is linked to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in older adults.
  • An earlier lab examine by the identical researchers confirmed detrimental results are usually not restricted to older individuals.

A examine from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago explores the hyperlink between light exposures throughout sleep and well being dangers. The analysis serves as a warning for the many individuals residing in industrialized nations the place light tends to be omnipresent.

Sleeping whereas uncovered to any kind of light in any respect — even dim light — is linked to a rise within the probability of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension (hypertension) in older adults, the examine finds.

Corresponding writer for the examine, Dr. Minjee Kim, of Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine, mentioned in a press launch: “Whether it be from one’s smartphone, leaving a TV on overnight, or light pollution in a big city, we live among an abundant number amount of artificial sources of light that are available 24 hours of a day.”

“It appears that even a tiny amount of light has a noticeable effect on our body’s response,” Dr. Kim informed Medical News Today.

“Previous animal and some human studies have suggested a potential association between mistimed light — not enough light during the day, too much light at night — and obesity,” mentioned Dr. Kim.

“There was little data on light exposure patterns in older adults,” mentioned Dr. Kim. “Since older adults are already at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, we wanted to know how frequently older adults are exposed to ‘light at night’ [or “LAN”], and whether or not light at night time is correlated with CVD risk elements.”

It isn’t solely older individuals whose well being could also be affected by not sleeping in deep darkness.

“In a previous study done by our group, even one night of dim light exposure during sleep raised heart rate and blood glucose in young, healthy adults who were brought into a sleep lab for an overnight experiment,” Dr. Kim defined.

Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes, a sleep knowledgeable from Uppsala University in Sweden, who was not concerned in both examine, informed MNT:

“The fact that this is observed in older people may represent the more cumulative effects of such a mechanistic relationship, meaning that the adverse cardiometabolic effects of nighttime light exposure may become more evident over time (meaning in more advanced age, if one maintains such a lifestyle or exposure pattern over years to decades).”

The examine was printed within the journal Oxford Academic SLEEP.

Unlike the group’s earlier analysis, the brand new examine noticed the real-world results of LAN, monitoring the sleep of 552 older women and men.

“In the current study, we measured light exposure and sleep in older adults (ages 63-84) for seven days using a wrist-worn device. Instead of bringing these older adults to the sleep lab, we collected data in their routine environments,” mentioned Dr. Kim.

They discovered that lower than half of these older adults slept in a pitch-black room for a minimum of 5 hours.

“We were frankly surprised to find out that more than half of the older adults were sleeping with some light at night,“ Dr. Kim said. “Adults who slept with some light during their sleep period were generally exposed to dim light.”

The researchers discovered that the probability of growing hypertension (hypertension) was elevated by 74%, obesity by 82%, and diabetes by 100%. Participants have been additionally examined for an elevated risk of hypercholesterolemia, however no distinction was noticed.

The examine lists three attainable mechanisms behind light’s disruptive impact throughout sleep:

  • Light is the primary synchronizer of the physique’s circadian rhythm or clock. Light throughout sleep might disrupt this rhythm and thus any clock-related physiological processes.
  • The pineal gland produces and secretes melatonin, the “hormone of darkness,” throughout darkish durations. Light might cut back melatonin’s metabolic and circulatory operate with its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilatory properties. Lower melatonin ranges correlate with an elevated risk of diabetes in ladies and an elevated risk of hypertension in younger ladies.
  • Light might set off the autonomic nervous system’s sympathetic arm. During wholesome sleep, the system liable for combat or flight responses relaxes, slowing the physique’s coronary heart price and respiration in a parasympathetic state.

When requested if extra light equals a higher risk of illness, Dr. Kim replied, “We found a trend towards a stronger association — a higher rate of obesity and diabetes — with more light exposure at night. We hope to confirm this finding with future studies across a broader age range.”

“While we cannot conclude anything beyond association because of the cross-sectional (‘snapshot’) nature of the study, I encourage everyone to try to avoid or minimize any light at night if possible,” Dr. Kim suggested.

“It may be as simple as not using electronic devices near the sleeping place and blocking light with a sleeping mask,” he added.

Still, Dr. Kim cautioned: “If people need to use a night light for safety, they should try to keep it as close to the ground as possible to minimize light entry to the eyes. If they need to use the bathroom at night, and it is dangerous to walk in complete darkness, try to use dim light for the shortest necessary period.”

It additionally seems that the colour of light during which an individual sleeps issues.

“I would recommend using amber or red light for [a] night light over blue light. Amber/red light (longer wavelengths) is less disruptive to our circadian clock in the body than lights with shorter wavelengths such as blue light,” Dr. Kim defined.

“Certain groups are forced to work at night,” added Dr. Cedernaes, and should sleep within the day. “There are also ways to block light (e.g., specific filters in glasses), and more studies may be warranted to establish methods to counteract light exposure… [and] reduce cardiometabolic risks.”



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