Home HEALTH Keeping your TV on at night may lead to weight gain

Keeping your TV on at night may lead to weight gain

EXPOSURE to light at night — from the glare of a bedroom TV or a street light through a window — may do more than disrupt sleep; it may increase the risk of weight gain and obesity in women, a new study suggests. The study researchers found that women who reported exposure to light at night while sleeping were more likely to gain weight and be-come obese over nearly six years, compared with women who were not exposed to light at night.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that light at night may be bad for health. Previous studies in animals have suggested that exposure to light at night may disrupt sleep and circadian rhythms, alter eating behaviors, and promote weight gain, the authors said.
The new findings, published today (June 10) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that “reducing exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping might be a useful strategy to prevent obesity,” study lead author Dr. Yong-Moon Park, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and senior author Dale Sandler, chief of the NIEHS’s Epidemiology Branch, told Live Science in an email.
However, the researchers found only an asso-ciation, and they can’t prove that exposure to light at night directly causes weight gain or obesity. The study’s authors could not fully ac-count for factors that could affect the link, such as unhealthy eating behaviors and low levels of physical activity — factors that might be tied to poor sleep and exposure to light at night.
In other words, exposure to light at night might represent a “constellation” of factors, including those related to unhealthy behaviors, “all of which could contribute to weight gain and obesity,” the authors said.
More research is needed to better understand the link and determine whether reducing light at night may prevent obesity, the authors concluded.
Although the new findings aren’t conclusive, reducing your exposure to light and night may not be a bad idea. “It seems reasonable to advise people not to sleep with lights on,” Park and Sandler said. Previous studies have found a link between exposure to light at night and obesity in humans. However, most of this research was con-ducted in night-shift workers who are exposed to high levels of light at night; these results may not apply to the general population.