You’ve heard of late-night eating, but new research is shedding light on how exposure to bright light at specific times of day can affect your ability to lose weight.
With the surge of electronic devices in recent years, such as smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles, scientists have studied how they can impact sleeping patterns and sleep quality. Multiple studies have shown that the light, particularly the “blue light” known as LED, emitted from these devices is having seriously negative consequences on our health. People with greater exposures to these lights at night have been shown to have higher risk of depression, heart issues, and even cancer.
What is also clear is that the lights shining at night are also altering our metabolisms, and not in the way that is good for our weight.
As reported in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that exposure to bright vs. dim light in either the morning or evening actually increased insulin resistance, which means that the body has a harder time balancing blood sugar levels, which is an essential part of the metabolic process. But what was most striking between morning and evening bright light exposure was the amount of glucose present in the blood among the research participants. Those exposed to bright light only at night experienced a spike in blood sugar while the morning group did not. This spike occurred on top of the already higher resistance to insulin. The researchers concluded that 1) bright light has an impact on the body’s metabolism regardless of time of day, and 2) the risks for metabolic disturbance and weight gain increase with exposure to bright lights at night.
For anyone who has undergone behavioral counseling for weight loss, this actually shouldn’t come as a surprise. Getting proper amounts of high-quality sleep has always been a part of the formula for higher rates of weight loss and long-term weight maintenance. And to get good sleep, that means lights off, during and well before bedtime.
Since everything we own seems to blink with LED lights these days, it may be difficult and maybe even impractical to shut it all down each and every night. As an easy fix, try wearing a sleeping mask that will block the light and keep you in blissful darkness throughout the night.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expose yourself to natural bright light, like the sun. In fact, you need sun exposure for ample Vitamin D production, which supports the weight loss process. But what is clear that a lot of exposure to bright artificial light isn’t what the doctor ordered for weight loss.