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Falling Asleep With The TV On Could Make You Gain Weight Reveals Study

Ben HaywardJune 13th
2019

It turns out that all those healthy diets and rigorous fitness plans all count for nothing if you tend to fall asleep with the telly on. 

In all seriousness, a recent study has genuinely revealed that falling asleep with the light or television on could actually lead to obesity, as the artificial light they emit can confuse the body clock.   

The study, carried out by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, North Carolina, found that exposure to artificial light of any kind in while falling asleep can increase the chance of weight gain by up to 17%.

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Conducted over five years, the research project followed 44,000 women aged between 35 and 74 who had no history of cancer or cardiovascular disease and weren't shift workers, daytime sleepers or pregnant.

The women self-reported the amount of artificial light they were exposed to at night. Compared to those not exposed to artificial light, women who slept with the light or television on were 22% more likely to become newly overweight and 33% more likely to become newly obese.  

The researchers believe this is because sleep was disrupted – which has an effect on hormone balance and makes people seek out calorific food.

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Experts said the findings made 'perfect sense' and add to mounting evidence against the damaging effects of artificial lighting in the lead up to sleeping. 

The findings, published in Jama International Medicine, found light - especially sleeping with a light or television on in the room - increased the risk of weight gain and obesity.

The study authors said this could be down to a few things including a lack of sleep changing the hormones that regulate appetite.

However, they were also keen to point out that exposure to artificial light at night can be reflective of unhealthy behaviours, such as an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle or stress, and socioeconomic disadvantage.

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Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, said the findings 'make perfect biological sense'.

Professor von Schantz said: “We know that light in the late evening will delay our body clocks. We know from experimental studies in people that light at night affects our metabolism in ways that are consistent with increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

“What is novel with this paper is that it is a longitudinal study comparing the weight of the same individuals at baseline and more than five years later. 

“These new findings won't change the advice to maintain good sleep hygiene, and avoid light and electronic distractions in the bedroom, but they add further strength to the case for this advice.”

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