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Medicine Science

The Light Might Make You Heavy 138

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 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?

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas