Sleeping With Your TV Or Phone Light On Can Lead To Weight Gain, Study Suggests

People who have the habit of dozing off while the television is on might have to fight off the urge and push the power button, as a new study has found it is linked to weight gain.

The study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences observed the lifestyle habits of 43,722 US women for five years, discovering that, in general, those who left artificial lights on at night gained up to 11 pounds.

Participants were aged between 35 and 74, and had no history of cancer or cardiovascular diseases. The research also made sure none of them worked shifts, slept in the day or were pregnant so these factors would not affect results. However, the levels of artificial light from smartphone and television screens they were exposed to at night were self-reported, so there could still be margins of error in the test.

Data collected from the research revealed that women who fell asleep with full room lights or those emitted from their television screens were 17-percent more likely to have put on 11 pounds or more over the span of five years.

They also had a 22-percent chance of becoming overweight, and even a staggering 33-percent chance of becoming obese. In contrast, those who fell asleep with just a night light typically did not gain weight. Additionally, the link between weight gain and natural light from the window was very slight.

The researchers also found connections between artificial lights at night and getting inadequate sleep, having inconsistent sleeping schedules and taking longer to fall asleep, all of which were also associated with obesity. This is because exhaustion the next day often leads to unhealthy food choices and less drive to exercise.

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However, the data shows a correlation and not a causation. Still, it is good to take note of unhealthy habits at night that might prevent a sound, high quality sleep, as well as use a night light rather than keep your bedroom completely lit if you require some level of illumination to sleep.

“We do have lots of evidence to confirm that insufficient sleep… is associated with weight gain, and this paper sheds light on how the bedroom environment might be a contributing factor to poor sleep and potential weight gain,” Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral fellow at NYU Langone Health who specializes in sleep, but did not carry out the study, detailed.