Are you wondering how can obesity and artificial light have anything to do with each other? The truth is that I was also very impressed when I saw it and, for this reason, I rushed to find out how these two factors can be related. In fact, I wonder if it is possible to reduce obesity rates by improving our relationship with technology and, of course, by reducing -even a little- the time we spend on electronic devices every day. This is the question that I will try to answer in this blog post today!
First of all, when we talk about artificial light, we mean what comes from electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, computers, televisions, as well as any light that we may have in our room. But how can this light increase obesity rates and how did I come to talk to you about it now? According to experts, it seems that our body’s exposure to artificial light during the night, and specifically when we sleep, negatively affects the biological functions of the body and essentially changes our biological clock. More specifically, it causes hormonal disorders in the body, which -of course- affect the quality and duration of our sleep. Due to hormonal and biological disorders, it seems that our appetite for food increases more, so our daily intake of calories increases, and consequently our weight increases. Isn't it really unbelievable how the body can be affected and actually react to such a small -theoretically- change?
Let me also tell you that the same can happen with sunlight, when someone sleeps in the morning and is exposed to natural light. Of course, it seems that people who work evening hours are excluded, since -in this case- the body seems to have acquired a different adaptation. In other words, don’t think that if you did not sleep well at night and sleep more in the morning that this will help you rest as well as if you slept enough at night. As you can see, everything is linked! We are somehow very “well-designed” so that our body works efficiently in the morning and rests in the evening.
So, isn't what can happen unbelievable? In fact, all this reaction of the body seems to be due to the reduced release of melatonin (otherwise known as the sleep hormone) that can occur when the body is exposed to bright light and especially bright blue light. Furthermore, it seems that the greater the body's exposure to artificial light before bed and during sleep is, the worse the quality of our sleep is. When we talk about the quality of sleep, we mean that its duration may be reduced, that sleep may be interrupted during the night, or -as many of you probably feel- that the body is not resting properly. It is also very important to know that this can be even more affected if you wake up at night and check your cell phone or watch TV.
Of course, as you understand, poor sleep quality is one of the factors that can affect weight gain and consequently increase obesity rates and the risk of metabolic syndrome in the general population. An unbalanced diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and -of course- stress are some other factors that can, in turn, affect a not so good quality of life and increase the likelihood of various chronic diseases. The only thing for sure is that we should try to reduce even a little the use of electronic devices - especially before bed - if we really want to improve the quality of our sleep. Keep in mind that good nutrition and exercise are two more factors that can positively affect the quality of our sleep!
Now that you understand the interaction between obesity and artificial light, what do you think? Maybe the next time you wake up in the middle of the night you will do some yoga or read a book instead of looking at your cell phone? I think it is worth even if you try it as it seems that it will also help in a better quality of life but also in having a more balanced weight. So, improve the quality of your sleep for an even better quality of life!
This article was written in collaboration with the Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.
* The website akispetretzikis.com offers as a service a variety of blogs and articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.