Lights on at night can increase diabetes risk

Fri, 14 Jan 2011
A new study from the US has found that having the lights on at night reduce levels of melatonin in the body, which could result in a bad night's sleep, and is linked to certain types of cancer, blood pressure and diabetes . The body starts to produce melatonin from the pineal gland as soon as it gets dark. However, the act of switching on lights in the home turns off the production of the hormone .

The research, published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, monitored 116 people over a five-day period, with the amount of light and sleep being controlled, with the patients being awake for 16 hours and asleep for eight hours per day.

They were exposed to room light for 16 hours during their waking hours, before being changed to eight hours of room light in the morning and then eight hours of dim light each evening. It was found that artificial light between dusk and bedtime strongly suppressed melatonin levels, while when the dim light was on, melatonin was produced for 90 minutes more a day.

Dr Joshua Gooley, lead author of the research, commented "Our study shows that this exposure to indoor light has a strong suppressive effect on the hormone melatonin. This could, in turn, have effects on sleep quality and the body's ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure and glucose levels ."

He added "Given that chronic light suppression of melatonin has been hypothesised to increase relative risk for some types of cancer and that melatonin receptor genes have been linked to type 2 diabetes, our findings could have important health implications for shift workers."
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