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Medicine Science

The Light Might Make You Heavy 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the switch-to-zero-calorie-light dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: "Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers have found that sleeping with high ambient light levels may contribute to obesity (abstract). In a survey of 113,000 women, a high correlation was found between higher bedroom light levels and increased propensity to be overweight or obese. Excess light in the sleeping environment has long been known to adversely affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. It is posited that such an interference with the 'body clock' may be behind these results. Although there is not yet enough evidence to call this a smoking gun, as one researcher put it, 'Overall this study points to the importance of darkness.'"
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The Light Might Make You Heavy

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  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:07PM (#47129851) Homepage

    Anakin Skywalker spent a lot of time with the dark side and look how much body mass he was able to lose.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      Most of his weight loss was essentially instantaneous, when his legs were cut off.
      • by aevan (903814)
        So the argument could be made it wasn't the darkside, but high-intensity light therapy that caused the sudden weight loss?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          ^FTW :)

  • A darkened room doesn't seem to help much either. :-P

  • Sixty-or-so years ago the Vegetable Oil industry told us that butter was giving us heart attacks, that we should avoid as much fat as possible, and that if we had to use fat in our cooking, polyunsaturated vegetable oil was far superior to the saturated fats.

    Recently an article was published in one of those medical journals, waving the white flag of surrender in the war against butter, but it's going to take a generation or two before the product liability lawsuits against Big Food will get anywhere.

    http:// [swindledandpimped.org]

    • The real problem is that we treat dieting as a witch hunt instead of an incredibly complex process dependent on more factors than even a dedicated personal dietitian and personal trainer can fully address. The 'war against X' is a big problem, but the solution isn't to hunt another witch, it's to change our paradigm about diets.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    No, the router does not need to pump 20mA through five blue ultrabrights. I do not need a blinking blue LED to tell me that the monitor is in standby mode. Dim those motherfuckers or, even better, give me an option to turn them off completely.

    • No, the router does not need to pump 20mA through five blue ultrabrights. I do not need a blinking blue LED to tell me that the monitor is in standby mode. Dim those motherfuckers or, even better, give me an option to turn them off completely.

      As it happens, research strongly suggests that blue light has the greatest impact (intensity and exposure being otherwise equal) of the visible colors. All of them are annoying; but the fad for blue probably makes them even more effective at sleep disruption.

      • I know for damn sure I can't sleep well when there's a blue or white LED on within eye-shot. Reds and Ambers are no problem, though. Don't know that I've noticed one way or the other for green.
        • by mlts (1038732)

          I know this is anecdotal, but I'm the same way. A red LED isn't that big an issue, but blue or white? Something has to go completely over it for me to get any sleep, and even then, the secondary scatter is still notable.

          Greens can be an issue, especially above a certain brightness.

          • The stated peaks for maximum luminous efficacy (in humans, this obviously varies, sometimes quite markedly, by species) are 555nm when things are well-lit enough for the cone cells to go to work, and 498nm under lower light conditions where it's just the rods doing the work. So, while blue is apparently most disruptive for some reason, green will punch above its weight if you are judging on obnoxiousness per mW...
    • by pslytely psycho (1699190) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:53PM (#47130267) Journal
      "give me an option to turn them off completely."

      Black nail polish.
      Or black electrical tape if you don't want to permanently black them out.
      • Actually black electrical tape can be too transparent (of course YMMV as there are different kind of tapes around the world). Some tougher stuff like hockey stick tape or duct tape will do the trick, although they might look a bit ugly. I have my whole router enclosed in a cardboard box.
    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Black electrical tape.
      Black nail polish.

      Both work great.

    • No, the router does not need to pump 20mA through five blue ultrabrights. I do not need a blinking blue LED to tell me that the monitor is in standby mode. Dim those motherfuckers or, even better, give me an option to turn them off completely.

      Many suffer of this issue. The home router manufacturers should include a simple front panel toggle switch to turn the LEDs on and off. It would certainly provide extra value for many people and increase their interest to buy the product.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        No, the router does not need to pump 20mA through five blue ultrabrights. I do not need a blinking blue LED to tell me that the monitor is in standby mode. Dim those motherfuckers or, even better, give me an option to turn them off completely.

        Many suffer of this issue. The home router manufacturers should include a simple front panel toggle switch to turn the LEDs on and off. It would certainly provide extra value for many people and increase their interest to buy the product.

        Or, they could just cut costs and realize that not all of us need shiny blinking lights for every bit of activity flowing through hardware.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      If you move out of your parents' basement, you can have your bed and your router in separate rooms.
    • by dwpro (520418)

      Agreed. I use layers of scotch tape and black permanant marker to dim them, works _ok_ but a damned dimmer would be great.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      No, the router does not need to pump 20mA through five blue ultrabrights. I do not need a blinking blue LED to tell me that the monitor is in standby mode. Dim those motherfuckers or, even better, give me an option to turn them off completely.

      Use the option the vendor doesn't provide you.

      I too, have an insanely bright array of LEDs on my router. Didn't realize when I bought it how annoying it really is. Put electrical tape over all the LEDs on the router and cable modem. Instant blacked-out hardware. Works like a champ.

  • Now there is an other possibility.
    People who are in poverty tend to live in Cities, and often get the bedrooms which are directly under the light.
    Now people in poverty often do not buy healthy food, and because they are stressed from poverty, my not try to eat well.

  • The causes of obesity are a multitude of factors. This article makes an overly simplistic suggestion that sleeping in a darker room will magically help one shed weight. As someone that has lost over a hundred pounds, I'll tell you this: it is making good food choices, counting calories, and getting physical activity. Certainly adequate rest is helpful but there is no credible study to suggest that someone that is doing these things yet doesn't get enough sleep is obese.
    • The causes of obesity are a multitude of factors. This article makes an overly simplistic suggestion that sleeping in a darker room will magically help one shed weight

      claim of correlation != claim of causation. The article and the researcher were pretty careful on that point.

      "But there is not sufficient evidence to know if making your room darker would make any difference to your weight. "There might be other explanations for the association, but the findings are intriguing enough to warrant further scientific investigation."

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday May 30, 2014 @02:17PM (#47130511)

      This article makes an overly simplistic suggestion that sleeping in a darker room will magically help one shed weight.

      [Citation needed]

      I read TFA and the the abstract to the actual study, and at no point do I see a "suggestion that sleeping in a darker room will magically help one shed weight."

      To the contrary, from TFA: "[The researchers] caution there is not enough evidence to advise people to buy thicker curtains or turn off lights." AND "[T]here is not sufficient evidence to know if making your room darker would make any difference to your weight." AND " Dr Matthew Lam, from the charity, commented: 'It's too early to suggest that sleeping in the dark will help prevent obesity, a known risk factor for breast cancer, but the association is certainly interesting.' "

      About the closest TFA comes to what you said is: "Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, from the Surrey Sleep Centre, said there would be no harm in trying to make bedrooms darker."

      In other words, TFA includes at least THREE explicit disclaimers saying the exact opposite of what you said it suggested, and one suggestion that "Well, it probably wouldn't hurt..."

      As someone that has lost over a hundred pounds, I'll tell you this: it is making good food choices, counting calories, and getting physical activity.

      Of course. But if you are better rested, for example, there's less chance that fatigue will live to poor judgment, stress, depression, etc., all of which are known to contribute to obesity. Sure, ultimately what you say is true, but that doesn't mean that changing some other environmental factor might not make it easier to make good food choices, count calories, exercise, etc.

      Certainly adequate rest is helpful but there is no credible study to suggest that someone that is doing these things yet doesn't get enough sleep is obese.

      Well, if you actually read the linked abstract, you'd see there actually ARE animal studies suggesting precisely this in the second sentence: "In animal studies, there is convincing evidence that light exposure causes weight gain, even when calorie intake and physical activity are held constant."

      So, this study is a human study suggesting something that has already been found in animal studies. As the researchers point out, they controlled for a lot of confounding factors, but there might be others -- nevertheless, as they say, it seems like enough evidence to justify further research.

      As you say, "The causes of obesity are a multitude of factors" -- why do you insist on arguing so strenuously against the possibility that this might be one factor, even if a minor one?

  • Not heavy...just "Big Boned"

  • Correlation == Causation?

    • by asylumx (881307)
      That's why the headline says "might" and the summary says "may" -- because they correlate strongly, but the causal link isn't proven.
  • Depends on your chemistry. I have the opposite problem. Sleeping in a dark room causes me to sleep too deeply/long, thereby triggering bouts of nighttime depression. Instead, I keep light curtains and play ambient music so I'm on the edge of lighter sleep. Occasionally I pull a dark pillow over my head when trying to get to sleep. But I'm athletic so I don't have obesity issues to begin with.
  • (big boned that is... ha! I kill me!)

    How much is too much light?!

    I've got a green LED clock and a TV with a red LED that's on when it's off. Once my eyes adjust I can see most of my bedroom FINE... especially when the moon is out and shining through my blinds...

    So... the moon makes me fat?!

    Or is this along the same kind of logic that because it weighs as much as a duck it's a witch...

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It's a correlation, which is not the same as showing that there is cause leading to effect.

  • In the past 10 years there's been an obesity increase in the major Chinese cities. Industrialization of sugar and high calorie foods combined with a sedentary employment will do that.

  • eh, not so sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:59PM (#47130319) Journal

    This seems like a confusion of symptom and actual cause, when the root issue may be simply a lack of good sleep (for whatever reason).

    Our eyelids are not opaque, they definitely allow ambient light levels through. This would imply that perhaps sleeping with high ambient light, it's just harder to get good solid rest.
    I guess you could test this by checking brainwaves of people sleeping in the dark, and sleeping with bright lights on, and seeing if there's a difference in the 'depth' of sleep they reach.

  • Change your curtains and venetian blinds to roller blinds.
    • Honeycombs with a sunblocker side to it.

      Good insulation, and light only leaks around the edges.

  • ...There's just no way that this holds up. Watch and see.

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

  • by TheCarp (96830)

    Perhaps larger people are more likely to sleep with a large TV on in their bedroom?

  • Two years ago i slept with the lights on all the time and was 175 lbs. (79 kg or 12.5 stones for you metric types ;)

    Then i got a new girlfriend, who prefers to sleep with the lights off. Since then i've gained 25 lbs.

    Yeah yeah, correlation is not causation, and anecdote is not evidence. And in this case the difference in weight is presumably due to going out to dinner with her more and going out to exercise by myself less. (I'm working on trying to change that now, but progress is slow =P)

    But in my in
    • Why did you sleep with the lights on? Were you just like "aw shucks, can't bother to turn them off", or was it more comfortable that way?
      • by Daetrin (576516)
        Because i generally have no problem going to sleep with the lights on, but often have a tough time getting up in the morning. Having the lights on when i wake up in the morning helps with the staying awake process... a little. (I think i might also have originally gotten into the habit during i time when i was single and lonely. Having the lights on seemed more... cheery somehow. That's obviously not a problem at this point however.)

        Given how quickly and deeply i can fall asleep under various circumstance
  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday May 30, 2014 @03:09PM (#47130995) Journal

    This breakthrough finding also explains why photography adds 10 pounds [petapixel.com] to its subjects. Flash photography, probably even more.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Last week, I spent an hour eating left-over fried chicken right from the fridge and the light made me fat. It's true.

  • Until an actual mechanism is shown for light causing obesity, I'm not giving up my blue canary in the outlet by the light switch!
  • That might help explain why there is an ongoing cross-species obesity epidemic.

    http://science-beta.slashdot.o... [slashdot.org]

  • Interestingly, photons hitting you can make you weigh (an itsy-bitsy bit) more due to "solar pressure" https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • Although there is not yet enough evidence to call this a smoking gun
    Yeeeeeeeah, that smoking gun is something called potential chemical energy. It was discovered at least 100 years ago, maybe more. It states that complex molecules can be broken down and release energy when they do so. That energy can be measures in calories. All mass takes energy to stop and start movement so if your body's atoms take less energy to move as a grand total than the potential chemical energy you eat, you will gain weight.
  • Whenever I hear this I think to myself...
    What about our ancestors sleeping around a fire? Didn't that put out light?
    Without artificial lights from our cities today, star light and moon light is actually very bright. Did that affect our ancestors?

  • If I don't leave the lights on when I go to bed, how will I see my way to the refrigerator at 3:00 am?

  • "a high correlation was found between higher bedroom light levels and increased propensity to be overweight or obese" - correlation.

    "The Light Might Make You Heavy" - causation.

    Dammit guys. -_-

    • Yes, making such a shortcut is really bad. The BBC article that is cited seems quite close to the fact, but then the summary that is given here on slashdot is really stupid. A shame for slashdot.
  • This just proves that nature has been a step ahead of us for decades. Nature makes you gain weight (create matter) when you're exposed to light! (I admit it's a bit of a stretch, but... :D)

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