Light exposure during sleep can damage your health -Report

New research has shown exposure to even moderate ambient lighting during night-time sleep, compared to sleeping in a dimly lit room, harms your cardiovascular function during sleep and increases your insulin resistance the following morning.

This is the result of a well-proven research by scientists from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, published in the peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, on March 14, 2022.

Researchers noted an insulin resistance occurred the morning after people slept in a light room.

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat and liver don’t respond well to insulin and unable to use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for this, your pancreas makes more insulin, and over time, your blood sugar spikes.

Senior study author, Dr Phyllis Zee, Northwestern Medicine physician, submits that, it is essential for people to avoid or minimize the amount of light exposure during sleep.

According to him, the outcome of this study shows that, “Just a single night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, which are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

“We showed your heart rate increases when you sleep in a moderately lit room… even though you are asleep, your autonomic nervous system is activated. That’s bad. Usually, your heart rate together with other cardiovascular parameters are lower at night and higher during the day,” said Dr Daniela Grimaldi, a co-first author and research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern.

Authors of this study emphasised the importance of this medical advisory, “particularly for those living in modern societies where exposure to indoor and outdoor night-time light is increasingly widespread”, in light of which they issued top tips for reducing light during sleep.

(1) Don’t turn lights on. If you need to have a light on (which older adults may want for safety), make it a dim light that is closer to the floor.

(2) Color is important. Amber or a red/orange light is less stimulating for the brain. Don’t use white or blue light, and keep it far away from the sleeping person.

(3) Blackout shades or eye masks are good if you can’t control the outdoor light. Move your bed so the outdoor light isn’t shining on your face.

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