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Turn lights off when sleeping at night to avoid obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure

Exposure to light during sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure for older adults. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams shares what sleep experts say about the health hazards even small amounts of light may cause.

Night lights
Keeping lights on in the bedroom while you sleep may increase your risk of disease.
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — If you use a night light or leave a light on in the hallway outside your bedroom while you sleep, you might want to think about turning them off. A study from Northwestern University shows that exposure to light at night increases an older person's risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Researchers say any type of light is linked to higher disease rates.

“Whether it be from one’s smartphone, leaving a TV on overnight or light pollution in a big city, we live among an abundant number amount of artificial sources of light that are available 24 hours of a day,” said Dr. Minjee Kim, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Older adults already are at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so we wanted to see if there was a difference in frequencies of these diseases related to light exposure at night.”

The researchers have tips on how to keep your sleep space dark, including:

  1. Turn all lights off. If you need to have a light on for safety, make sure it's dim and closer to the floor.
  2. Pay attention to color. Choose lights that are less stimulating, such as amber or red/orange. Don’t use white or blue light.
  3. Block it out. Blackout shades or eye masks may help to block out outside light. Move your bed to keep your face away from an outside source you can't control.

The study is published in the journal SLEEP.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

MORE HEALTH FUSION:
Blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol and blood glucose are some of the numbers that measure heart health. The American Heart Association has added sleep to that list. Why? Because research about how sleep effects those numbers keeps emerging. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and sleep expert about why sleep is vital to your heart health.

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