Nighttime Blue Light Exposure Linked to Weight Gain in Women

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Too much blue light exposure messes with your sleep, and new research shows it can also lead to weight gain.

Sleeping with the TV on or with another light on was linked to gaining 11 pounds over a five-year period among women, according to a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Blue light (aka “junk light”) disrupts your circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin — the hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to sleep — and tricks your body into thinking it’s the daytime. That’s bad news for your sleep, and for your health. Too much blue light has been linked to other serious health risks, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and vision loss.

As part of the new study, the researchers analyzed data on nearly 44,000 women aged 35 to 74 in the United States. They focused on data about the women’s sleep habits and whether they slept with a night light on, and weight gain.

Those who reported sleeping with the TV on or with another light on were more likely to gain 11 pounds over five years compared to women who slept in darkness. They also had a 30 percent higher risk of becoming obese.

The researchers accounted for other factors that could lead to weight gain, including diet, exercise, and sleep duration.

How to protect yourself from blue light overexposure

  • Turn your bedroom into a dark cave: Use blackout blinds, and unplug any unnecessary electronics in your bedroom.
  • Wear blue-light blocking glasses: These glasses protect your eyes from blue light. Use them when you need to work late on your computer, or when you’re watching Netflix at night.
  • Close down all electronic devices two hours before bed: Sometimes this isn’t possible, but aim to shut down your computer and phone and prepare your body for sleep a couple of hours before hitting the sack. 

Discover more ways to shield yourself from junk light here.  

Read next: How to Sleep Better: Science-Backed Sleep Hacks to Wake Up Ready to Go

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