Many of us are used to sleeping with a night light on. Some leave the TV on to create ambient light, and some even leave the bedroom light on until morning. But according to this new study on sleep, it is time to change our habits because sleeping with light would have harmful effects on our health.
Scientists from Northwestern Medicine conducted a study on the effects of light on the body at night, and they found that even a small amount of light can do damage. The light could impact cardiovascular function while we sleep, and it could also increase insulin resistance when we wake up.
So having lights in your bedroom at night could lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.
Sleeping with light is bad for our cardiovascular function
According to Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine, exposure to moderate ambient light during sleep can significantly impair glucose regulation and that of the circulatory system. These are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndromes.
Dr Zee said it’s important for people to avoid sun exposure, or minimize the amount of light while sleeping. During the night, the heart rate drops when we sleep. In the morning, it increases when we are exposed to daylight, and our sympathetic nervous system automatically activates. This same process can take place when we expose ourselves to light during our sleep. The autonomic nervous system remains activated, the heart rate and other cardiovascular parameters remain at high levels, which is bad for your health.
A risk of developing diabetes
The study also determined that the impact of light during sleep can extend to the development of diabetes. Researchers have determined that those exposed to light during sleep may show signs of insulin resistance when they wake up.
This resistance prevents the body from using the glucose in the blood as an energy source. The pancreas will then inject more insulin into the body to compensate. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.