A new study out from researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Haifa in Israel have found that mice are more likely to be obese when their sleep cycle is disrupted by exposure to light. Researchers studied the effects of both bright and dim lights on mice during the night hours when they were normally sleeping.
They found that those mice which were exposed to either form of light were more likely to have greater body mass and a reduced tolerance for glucose than those with a normal night cycle, even though they were exposed to the same amount of calories. Though the study is small, the analysts theorize that humans might receive the same effect and may be more likely to eat during the late night hours when they're supposed to be asleep.
According to usatoday.com, it's been thought for years that watching TV late at night or spending time staring at a computer screen was somehow connected to risks of obesity, but researchers always thought that this was because of a lack of activity. Researchers in this study write, "the results from the current study suggest that exposure to night time lighting and the resulting changes in the daily pattern of food intake and activity also may be contributing factors."
The Baltimore Sun writes that the researchers studied the mice for 8 weeks and those who never got full darkness weighed 10% more than their regular light cycle counterparts. Exposure to light late at night throws the body's 24 hour rhythm of our bodies, known as the circadian rhythm, out of sync and the metabolism follows.
Getting a restful sleep and making sure not to eat too close to bed time are two guidelines often associated with weight loss. Now we know that it isn't just about eating at night, it's about maintaining a consistent restful sleep cycle in order to maintain a steady metabolism.