Obesity Linked To Bright Bedrooms, Study Claims

Wondering why that extra layer of fat just won't go away? Maybe, you need to dim down the bedroom lights! A study by the Institute of Cancer Research in London discovered that there is a convincing link between obesity and bright bedrooms. People who sleep on well-lighted bedrooms have higher chances of gaining extra pounds.

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the study details a survey done on 113,000 women. Ladies were asked to describe their bedrooms and the amount of light they have in their sleeping areas. The respondents were asked to rate the amount of light in their bedroom as:

  • Light enough to read
  • Light enough to see across the room, but not read
  • Light enough to see your hand in front of you, but not across the room
  • Too dark to see your hand or you wear a mask
The respondents' answers were compared with several measures of body weight: BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference. Anthony Swerdlow, one of the authors of the study, stated their conclusion:

"In this very large group of people there is an association between reported light exposure at night and overweight and obesity."

However, researchers were quick to clarify that more evidence is needed to arrive at a stronger conclusion, emphasizing that although the results are intriguing, further scientific investigations are still needed.

"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."

So, there really isn't a reason yet to buy thicker curtains. But, in a psychological perspective, how does light really affect one's weight and risk of obesity.

A hypothesis would be that the body clock could be distracted by the excess light coming from one's external environment. For thousands of years, man has toiled during the day and rested during the night when light was absent. This pattern has been the same for generation after generation. When distractions such as like light interfere with body patterns such as this one, our biological systems go awry. Excess light has been observed to affect mood, physical strength, and even the way our digestive system processes food.

Sleep expert Professor Derk-Jan Dijk of the Surrey Sleep Centre says there is no harm in making our bedrooms a little bit dimmer. Dijk told BBC News:

"People in general are not aware of the light present in their bedroom, I think people should assess their bedroom and see how easy it would be to make it darker."

Street lights, some alarm clocks and standby lights on electrical equipment such as televisions could light a room.

"Overall this study points to the importance of darkness,"

[Image from le luxographe via Flickr]