Obesity through light - artificial light makes women fat in their sleep

Obesity through light - artificial light makes women fat in their sleep

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Sleeping with the lights on or TV makes you fat

A new study has shown that sleeping with the television switched on or artificial light is associated with weight gain in women. Switching off the light source during the night's sleep can reduce the risk of being overweight.

Influence on sleep

It has long been known that television affects our sleep and health. German health experts reported that around one in two adults sleep too little because of TV. And British scientists published a study that concluded that having your own television in the bedroom promotes obesity in children. Even if you no longer look at the screen, the telly can obviously have a negative effect on the weight. American researchers have now found this out.

Risk factor for weight gain

According to scientists from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), sleeping with the TV on or the lights on in the room can be a risk factor for weight gain or obesity.

The scientists came to this conclusion in a study that has now been published in the specialist magazine "JAMA Internal Medicine".

According to a NIH statement, the scientific work is the first to find a link between nighttime artificial lighting and weight gain in women.

The results suggest that turning off the lights before bed could decrease the likelihood that women will become overweight.

Data from over 40,000 women analyzed

To get their results, the researchers analyzed questionnaire data from 43,722 women aged 35 to 74 years.

The questionnaire asked whether the women slept without light, with a small night light, light outside the room, or with light or a television in the room.

The scientists compared data on weight, waist and hip size and body mass index (BMI), which were collected five years later at the start of the study and the follow-up.

Using this information, the research team was able to investigate obesity and weight gain in women who were exposed to artificial light at night and compared to women who reported sleeping in dark rooms.

Negative effects from artificial light during sleep

The results varied with the level of artificial light.

For example, using a small night light was not associated with weight gain, while women who slept with lights or TVs were 17% more likely to gain five kilograms during the follow-up period.

The association with light from outside the room was more modest, according to the authors.

The scientists wondered if the results could have something to do with the fact that women don't get enough rest in the light.

"Although poor sleep was inherently associated with obesity and weight gain, it did not explain the relationship between artificial light during sleep and weight," said NIH study author Dale Sandler.

Co-author Chandra Jackson added that many people living in urban environments are often exposed to light at night and that street lights, neon signs and other light sources suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and the natural 24-hour light-dark cycle.

"Humans are genetically adapted to a natural environment that consists of sunlight during the day and darkness at night," says Jackson.

"Nighttime exposure to artificial light can alter hormones and other biological processes in a way that increases the risk of health problems such as obesity."

Other factors could also explain the connection

However, the authors restrict that other confounding factors could explain the associations between artificial light at night and weight gain.

However, factors such as age, socioeconomic status, calorie consumption and physical activity had no impact on the results.

It was also noted that the study did not include men.

The lead author, Yong-Moon (Mark) Park, a postdoctoral fellow in Sandler's group, concluded:

"Unhealthy, high-calorie diets and a lack of exercise are the most common factors to explain the continuing rise in obesity."

And: "This study underlines the importance of artificial light at night and gives women who sleep with light or television an opportunity to improve their health." (Ad)

Links to the original publications

Sleeping with artificial light at night associated with weight gain in women

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Association of Exposure to Artificial Light at Night While Sleeping With Risk of Obesity in Women
  • Sleeping with artificial light at night associated with weight gain in women

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