Uh Oh, Sleeping with the TV on May Lead to Weight Gain

Leslie Hanson
June 13, 2019

"As the authors mention, you can't point directly to causality between bedroom light exposure at night for a sleeping individual and weight gain but I think this is definitely a step in that direction", he said.

Although more studies are needed to cement the concept, experts say it makes "perfect biological sense" that having blue light around you at night could make you hungrier.

The study researchers found that women who reported exposure to light at night while sleeping were more likely to gain weight and become obese over almost six years, compared with women who were not exposed to light at night.

The questionnaire included questions about exposure to light during sleep, and participants indicated whether they slept with no light, a small night light, light outside of the room, or a light or television on in the room.

For the current study, researchers followed nearly 44,000 generally healthy women, ages 35 to 74. On top of this, a shorter sleep simply means more time awake, and therefore more time to eat.

"For example, using a small nightlight was not associated with weight gain, whereas women who slept with a light or television on were", he explained.

For middle-aged and older women, sleeping with the television or lights on has been linked with higher odds of becoming obese, in a recent US study.

Turn off the lights on your way out. And the level of artificial light seemed to matter, Park said.

Sleeping amid the artificial glow of televisions, laptops, smartphones and even lamps may increase the likelihood of female obesity, a new study finds. The women, who were enrolled in the Sister Study group, had no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease and weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant at the study's start.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., reviewed the findings.

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.

The key takeaway relates to poor sleep, Katz suggested.

It's also possible that reliance on artificial light at night and obesity are both linked to other factors, such as "loneliness, anxiety or some form of social insecurity", Katz said.

Yet the study findings appear to fall in line with separate research - including one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2016, that linked increased light exposure at night with a 10% increase in body mass index over a 10-year period in older adults.

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