Light At Night May Cause Depression Symptoms

July 25, 2012

If you’ve ever dealt with insomnia or struggled to lose weight, you may already know that even dim light at night can have an immediate effect on the body. Adding to studies that not sleeping in darkness contributes to weight loss, inadequate sleep cycles, and general poor health (possibly even raising cancer risks), depression symptoms are added to that list.

Hamsters that slept with the equivalent of a TV light on began showing depression symptoms in as little as a month, eschewing their favorite activities and becoming lethargic in the day. Fortunately, when they were returned to a normal night-day cycle, their depression symptoms faded.

So why does light trigger depression symptoms? The answer isn’t 100% clear, but researchers did find that being exposed to light at night caused an increase in a protein that causes depression symptoms. It’s also linked with an increased amount of inflammation, which may contribute to some of the other ill-effects of being exposed to light at night. Chronic inflammation is tied to a host of illnesses.

What to do:

-If you need to fall asleep to the TV, set a timer.
-Use night lights that have a trigger rather than constant light.
-Use blackout curtains, even if you aren’t sleeping during the day. There’s been a steady increase in light pollution over the last fifty years, and the majority of people live in an area where they are exposed to it. (Plus, it helps to block out noise: a bonus for insomniacs).
-Keep electronics out of the bedroom, or controlled so they don’t give off steady flashes of light all night.

What other ways are people exposed to artificial light at night? How do you avoid it? Share below:

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