Nighttime Light Linked to Weight Gain

Sleep Article Summary:

  • Night light has been linked to weight gain in women
  • Artificial night light affects melatonin production
  • There are many natural ways to bypass the night light and improve sleep

Can a night light cause weight gain?

When it comes to bedtime, few people can just slide under the covers and fall asleep right away. Most of us need a transition period instead so that we can calm down from day one and eventually doze off. This often includes watching TV or reading in bed until sleep overtakes you. However, if you keep falling asleep and there is still light emitting from a lamp or television, you may be at risk of weight gain, at least if you are a woman.

According to a new study done at the United States National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, women who sleep in their room with artificial lights may be at greater risk of gaining weight. These results are based on a study that included nearly 44,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74. None of the subjects had problems typically related to sleep disorders, such as B. Shift work, habit of sleeping during the day or being pregnant. Those who said they slept with a TV or lights were 17 percent more likely to gain 11 pounds or more over a five-year period. The only form of light in a room that was NOT associated with this benefit was a small night light.

How night light contributes to weight gain

Exposure to artificial light while sleeping can result in poor sleep quality, which is why a dim night light may not have the same effect. However, the biggest problem with night light is that it prevents adequate production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining a proper daily rhythm. In essence, we set our internal clocks so that we can sleep when it's dark outside and wake up in the morning when the sun is up.

But too much artificial light during the hours we should be sleeping can upset this delicate balance. A 2017 study at the University of Leeds in the UK found that both men and women who don't get enough sleep most nights are more likely to be overweight and have a larger waistline and higher blood sugar levels and have increased thyroid function Inflammation.

Prepare for a sound sleep

So what can you do to ensure better quality sleep and reduce the risk of gaining extra pounds? As current research shows, it is important to remove the light sources from your room. If you fall asleep on TV every night because you love to listen to something as you drift, try a white noise machine that has soothing nature sounds or music and set it for a specific time. Or, set your bedroom TV on a timer so it turns off right after bed.

Keep the lights off in your bedroom and hallway when you leave your door open. Choose a low wattage night light if you are concerned about falling during nighttime toilet trips. And don't bring devices like your cell phone, laptop or tablet to bed as the light they emit affects your sleep as well. If you get woken up on your cell phone in the morning, buy an old-fashioned alarm clock instead. Or just hold the phone face down on the bedside table.

Healthy tips for a better sleep:

  • Don't drink alcohol for a few hours before bed
  • Cut out caffeine in the afternoon and evening
  • Skip big, late dinners
  • Invest in a new, high quality mattress
  • Exercise during the day and stretch at night
  • Take a hot bath or shower just before bed
  • Go for a walk in the evening
  • Reduce stress with an L-theanine supplement
  • Meditate before bed
  • Add a small dose of delayed melatonin as needed
  • Take a soothing magnesium supplement
  • Drink chamomile tea before bed
  • Set the thermostat to 60-67 degrees
  • Try visualization to encourage relaxation

For more information on sleep, see Jon's article on the health effects of too little or too much sleep.

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