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Sleep in the Dark for Better Weight Loss

A new study has revealed that when we sleep with a light on at night, our chances of losing weight are diminished and there is actually a greater tendency to gain weight as a result even when what you eat and how much you exercise stays constant.

Do you sleep with a light on somewhere in the house so that your bedroom is not completely dark? This may interest you, then!

The Importance of Sleep

light at night causes weight gainThe study, undertaken by lead author neuroscience PhD student Laura Fonken at the Ohio State University was conducted on mice conducted on mice. The purpose was to investigate the relevance to light exposure and unusual sleeping patterns in humans to the levels of weight gain experienced.

The study commenced by exposing three groups of mice to different amounts of light during the night hours, with one group getting constant light at 150 lux a second group exposed to a standard light cycle, (16 hours of 150 lux then 8 hours of darkness) and a third group exposed to 16 hours of light 150 lux and 8 hours of low light 5 lux. The food amounts were measured as well as activity levels along with monitoring the body mass of the mice.

The study revealed that both groups of mice exposed to light during the hours of darkness gained more weight than the mice exposed to the standard cycle of light and darkness.

Fonken said of the study:

"Although there were no differences in activity levels or daily consumption of food, the mice that lived with light at night were getting fatter than the others"

A second study was then undertaken with the food available to the mice being restricted. The results showed there was no difference in the weights of the mice in all three of the light exposure groups. This led the researchers to the conclusion that the mice who gained weight in the first study did so due to altered eating patterns.

Results Count

Commenting on the results of the study, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Ohio State University, Randy Nelson said,

"Something about light at night was making the mice in our study want to eat at the wrong times to properly metabolize their food. When we restricted their food intake to times when they would normally eat, we didn't see the weight gain. This further adds to the evidence that the timing of eating is critical to weight gain. It may be that people who use the computer and watch the TV a lot at night may be eating at the wrong times, disrupting their metabolism. Clearly, maintaining body weight requires keeping caloric intake low and physical activity high, but this environmental factor may explain why some people who maintain good energy balance still gain weight."

On a slightly less serious note: The moral of this study is?

If you are a mouse, stay away from laboratories conducting crackpot studies that have little relevance to real life in humans and if your a human, definitely stop reading reports of same. Common sense dictates that if you go raiding the fridge at 2am every night whether the kitchen light is on or off, then guess what? You are going to get fat eventually!


Posted on Wed, 13 Oct 2010 in News | 0 Comments

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