Link found between lighting during sleep and three dangerous conditions

(ORDO NEWS) — Using more than 500 people, scientists have shown how light exposure during sleep is associated with an increased risk of obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

A new study by researchers from several centers and institutes at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, United States of America, has shown that lighting during times is associated with negative health outcomes, in particular an increased risk of metabolic disorders.

Experts have warned more than once that it is really harmful to sleep with light: the fact is that artificial lighting at night can reduce the level of melatonin, and problems with the production of this main hormone of the pineal gland and the regulator of the circadian rhythm of all living organisms correlate with the occurrence of many diseases including cancer , cardiovascular disease , and decreased fertility.

Even low light during the rest period may be enough to activate the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system responsible for the body’s ” fight or flight ” response.

It is assumed that during sleep, it “calms down”: the body goes into a parasympathetic state, heart rate and breathing slow down. That is, the autonomic nervous system has a stable cycle of sleep and wakefulness, and light at night disrupts it.

Because older adults are particularly at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and vascular disease, the authors of the new study wanted to see if there was a difference in the prevalence of these ailments after exposure to light at night.

The sample included 552 men and women aged 63-84 who participated in the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry from 1967-1973 . Now they measured the levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, found out their weight, height, area of ​​​​residence and race.

Each subject had to keep a sleep diary for a week and wear a special small actigraphic device, or actimetric sensor, on their wrist to track general motor activity and exposure to light.

As it turned out, less than half of the more than five hundred people spent only five hours a day in total darkness. The rest were in the light even in the darkest time of the day, including in a dream.

As a result, those who were constantly exposed to lighting were more likely to be diagnosed with obesity (the risk was 1.82 times higher), hypertension (1.74 times) and diabetes (twice) – compared with subjects who managed to avoid permanent lighting. light pollution.

In addition, people from the first category had the lowest activity. No association with hypercholesterolemia was found.

The researchers were unable to answer the question of whether lighting during sleep contributed to the development of the above conditions, or, conversely, due to their presence, participants were forced to turn on the light at night: for example, due to more frequent trips to the toilet or to avoid the risk of falls if diabetes caused numbness in the legs.

“Further studies are needed to understand the long-term impact of nighttime lighting on cardiometabolic risks,” the authors said.

In any case, they recommended avoiding or minimizing light exposure during sleep by placing light sources closer to the floor, preferring “warm colors” (amber or red-orange) rather than white and blue. You can also hang blackout curtains and use masks if street lighting cannot otherwise be controlled.

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