Researchers warn of health dangers of too much light while we sleep

By June 4, 2014 No Comments

There are regular warnings that people aren’t sleeping properly. Too much light from electronic devices before bedtime. Not enough time in bed. Excessive caffeine. Now there’s another potential worry – too much light in the bedroom.

Previous studies have linked light at night with ill health in rodents. Now a study of 113,000 women suggests that it could cause obesity in humans. The work by Oxford University researchers for the Institute of Cancer Research found that women had larger waistlines if their bedroom was “light enough to see across”, the researchers found.

Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, of the Surrey Sleep Centre, said people “should assess their bedroom and see how easy it would be to make it darker”. But have our bedrooms got lighter?

There has probably been a trend towards lighter rooms over the past century, says Alex Goddard, curator at London’s Geffrye Museum, which is devoted to the history of the home.

The first problem is more light outside houses. Houses in built-up areas are surrounded by streetlights, car headlights, advertising and other buildings.

The Royal Commission on Light Pollution’s 2009 report, Artificial Light in the Environment, warned that in the seven years from 1993 to 2000 significant areas of the UK became more intensively lit at night. The commission noted that outdoor lighting in the UK was growing at an estimated rate of about 3% per annum.

A survey in October 2007 by Harris Poll Europe Omnibus Survey found a third of those interviewed found that light outside bedroom windows led to sleepless nights. The North West of England reported the worst problems with 44% of respondents having difficulties in sleeping because of light pollution.

But as well as the rising amount of light outside our bedrooms, changing home decor trends have exacerbated the problem.

You can read the full article written by Tom De Castella here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27661394

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