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Sleeping with light in the bedroom can lead to obesity and diabetes, study says

A study from Northwestern University, in the United States, pointed out that exposure to lights during sleep can increase the risk of health problems in adults. According to the researchers, even the lowest lighting at night can impair cardiovascular function, increasing insulin resistance during the next morning. This relationship, in turn, increases the chances of developing diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

The first part of the research, published in March of this year, was carried out with healthy adults in their 20s, and the second stage had participants between 60 and 80 years old who already had a predisposition to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. During both experiments, the presence of lights such as electronic monitors over the course of a single night led to increased blood sugar levels and increased heart rate.

According to researcher Phyllis Zee, responsible for the study, low light enters through the eyelids and disturbs sleep, even when we have our eyes closed. “Even small points of light create a deficit in deep sleep and the rapid eye movement stage. It is during these phases of sleep that greater cell renewal occurs”, explains the scientist, in an interview with CNN International.

The cardiac acceleration during the night has already been identified, in other studies, as one of the risk factors for the development of heart disease and premature death. Higher blood sugar, in turn, is a sign of insulin resistance, which can result in type 2 diabetes.

Phyllis and her team were surprised to find that less than half of the participants in the experiment slept in the dark for at least five hours a day. More than 53% had some light in the bedroom, and people who slept with brighter lights were more likely to go to sleep and wake up later. “We know that people who sleep later also have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases”, commented the researcher.

The light spectrum also has an impact on sleep: longer waves, such as those with red and orange colors, are less intrusive and less disruptive to the circadian rhythm, the biological clock. Lamps that use these colors can be used by people who need to get up at night to go to the bathroom, for example – the recommendation is to leave them at a lower height, such as in sockets.

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What to do to sleep in the dark?

The recommendation is to move the bed away from the windows and invest in a black-out curtain. Also, avoid carrying laptops or electronics in the bedroom while you sleep. If it is still not possible to reduce the brightness, the indication is to sleep with a mask to protect your eyes. If you have to wake up during the night, avoid turning on the lights in the house and try to move around in the dark.

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