Keep the Lights Out at Night

Recent studies have shown that exposure to light during the night can seriously impact your body’s internal clock, leading to metabolic changes and weight gain. In the study, mice who were exposed to a dim light at night gained 50% more weight over an eight-week period than mice that slept in total darkness. Scientists believe that these findings may hold true for humans as well.

Your biological clock uses light and dark signals to tell you when it is time to wake up or go to sleep. Your biological clock also regulates your metabolism. The study suggests that when your biological clock is disrupted by exposure to light at night, it also throws off your metabolism, likely leading to weight gain.

Another important reason that you should sleep in the dark is related to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that control your biological clock. When it is dark outside, SCN tells your pituitary gland to produce melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep and radically decreases your risk of cancer.

Here are some tips to help you get your bedroom as dark as possible:

  • Install blackout drapes

  • Close your bedroom door if light comes through it

  • Cover up your electric clock radio at night

  • Avoid night lights of any kind (If you have to use a light a night, try a red light. Red light has a wavelength that will have virtually no influence on melatonin production.)

  • Keep all light off at night, even if you get up to go to the bathroom.

  • Don’t fall asleep to the TV.

  • Wear an eye mask to block out any stray light.

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