February 2, 2023
Sleeping with Lights

A recent study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has confirmed that people should sleep with their lights off if they want to enjoy the perks of good health and well-being. According to the best doctors in Pakistan, people often tend to sleep with their lights on especially when they are inhabitants of industrialised nations. 

This study has shed light that people who are occasional with keeping their lights on while sleeping tend to be at a higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, or even hypertension in worst-case scenarios. 

Dr. Minjee Kim, of Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine who is also the corresponding author of this study, said in an official press release:

Whether it be from a smartphone, leaving a TV on overnight, or light pollution in a big city, we live among an abundant number of artificial sources of light that are available 24 hours a day.”

Furthermore, she commented that “It appears that even a tiny amount of light has a noticeable effect on our body’s response. “Previous animal and some human studies have suggested a potential association between mistimed light — not enough light during the day, too much light at night. 

Commenting on the research a bit further, she also added that “There was little data on light exposure patterns in older adults. “Since older adults are already at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, we wanted to know how frequently older adults are exposed to ‘light at night’ [or “LAN”], and whether the light at night is correlated with CVD risk factors.”

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The doctors then went on to comment that several diagnostic tests show that elders are at a greater health risk by sleeping in light and can also impact healthy adults. 

There has been a study in previous times that has pointed out the same health complications arising in those adults that were otherwise healthy. Dr. Kim explained, “In a previous study done by our group, even one night of dim light exposure during sleep raised heart rate and blood glucose in young, healthy adults who were brought into a sleep lab for an overnight experiment.

Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes a sleep expert from Uppsala University was not an active part of the study but had some useful insights related to this study. He explained that 

“The fact that this is observed in older people may represent the more cumulative effects of such a mechanistic relationship, meaning that the adverse cardiometabolic effects of nighttime light exposure may become more evident over time (meaning in more advanced age, if one maintains such a lifestyle or exposure pattern over years to decades).”

Connection with a Real-World Study

The new study had 552 older men and women. Dr. Kim commented that “In the current study, we measured light exposure and sleep in older adults (ages 63-84) for seven days using a wrist-worn device. Instead of bringing these older adults to the sleep lab, we collected data in their routine environments,” 

They were also surprised to find out that almost a healthy fraction of the subject population was sleeping with the light on at night. Although not too much light but a considerable fraction of light. She and her team were very surprised to unveil this truth mostly elders are comfortable with keeping their lights on at night for sleeping arrangements. 

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In this healthy fraction of the population, scientists were able to detect that the risks of high blood pressure and obesity, and diabetes were increasing in those adults. 

The doctors have provided the following factors which can lead to such an increase in health complications. 

Light is one of the main synchronisation factors for the body’s whole circadian rhythm. Thus if you are sleeping it can have a damaging effect on this pattern. 

Light can lead to less production of melatonin. Melatonin is an incredibly important hormone for the metabolic and circulatory system and their maintenance. 

Light is also known to increase the overall activity of the autonomic nervous system. What happens otherwise is that the body is not able to sleep properly and thus the whole system might malfunction. 

Sleep for the Betterment of Health

Dr. Kim further went on to say that “In the current study, we measured light exposure and sleep in older adults (ages 63-84) for seven days using a wrist-worn device. Instead of bringing these older adults to the sleep lab, we collected data in their routine environments,” 

“If people need to use a night light for safety, they should try to keep it as close to the ground as possible to minimize light entry to the eyes. If they need to use the bathroom at night, and it is dangerous to walk in complete darkness, try to use dim light for the shortest necessary period.”

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