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The Surprising Relationship Between Sleep and Weight

By Kate Gardner

Researchers and healthcare providers are always looking for new ways to understand why some people gain weight and others don't. Researchers in North Carolina recently found a connection in a surprising place -- the bedroom! The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, took a look at whether or not sleeping with the lights on had any effect on weight gain. 

The Specifics

According to CNN, researchers were curious to see if having a light on while you sleep can impact your weight. They surveyed 43,722 American women between the ages of 35 to 74. These women were asked questions about their sleep habits, including whether they had a light on while they slept, such as from a nightlight or television. Women also reported their BMI, or body mass index. 

The Results

The women in the survey were put into one of four categories based on how much light they had on while they slept: no light, small nightlight in the room, light outside the room, and light or television in the room. If women had more than one light source on while they slept, they had the highest amount of light exposure, while women who reported they wore a sleep mask had the least. Researchers found the more light women had on while they slept, the more weight they gained over a five-year period. Women who slept in a room with a light or television on gained 11 pounds or more during that time!

The Limitations

While this is interesting information, researchers caution that this study shows a connection between light during sleep and weight gain but it does not show that having a light on causes you to gain weight. The study is also a survey, meaning that all the data depends on how accurately study participants reported their sleep habits and BMI. 

The Recommendations

Regardless of any limitations, the study's findings are in line with a lot of what we know about having devices in our bedrooms. Blue light from your television, smartphone, or tablet can disrupt your sleep and now there is evidence that it may lead to weight gain. Sleep experts recommend keeping televisions and devices out of the bedroom and turning them off at least an hour or so before bedtime. 

If you're like me, you probably spend the hour before bedtime catching up on social media or watching television. But maybe our health is worth putting down the phone and picking up a book. At least right before bed. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Shorewood, Ill.

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