The implications of the word ‘diabetes’ can send shivers down everyone’s spine. But did you know that one of the underlying causes of diabetes may be something as simple as sleeping with the light on?
According to research from Northwestern University in Chicago, light exposure during one night of sleep can decrease glucose and cardiovascular regulation while boosting heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome risk factors.
There is also a correlation between obesity and exposure to artificial light at night, leading to illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
Studies performed on rats showed that sleeping with the lights on may cause impairment of glucose tolerance and lead to diabetes. Another similar study showed that exposure to blue light at night might cause an increase in the consumption of sweets.
While its underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood, current research may help scientists formulate some hypotheses on why light exposure causes so many problems in our bodies.
So, why does keeping the light on cause so many problems in the body?
Studies have shown that exposure to light at night can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm, prompting metabolic disturbances, such as increased insulin and blood sugar levels.
Aside from the natural circadian rhythm, melatonin production suffers as well from sleeping with the lights on. Melatonin, the hormone responsible for suppressing cortisol, the wakefulness hormone, is closely linked with light and darkness. In response to darkness, the pineal gland in the brain starts creating melatonin. Therefore, disturbing melatonin production can significantly affect our bodies’ ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Keeping your light in the bedroom at night can also disrupt your sleep cycles. Humans go through 4-6 sleep cycles during a good night’s sleep, and these cycles go through stages such as REM and non-REM sleep. These cycles and stages of sleep can be disturbed if we keep lights on during the night.
Sleep in Total Darkness
If you’re trying to lower your risk of diabetes, make sure you’re getting plenty of darkness at night. Avoid bright lights in the evening and ensure your bedroom is dark when you sleep. You can reduce light exposure during sleep time with the help of:
- Blackout curtains: Installing blackout curtains is an excellent way to keep out the sun’s rays, especially if you sleep during the day.
- Sleep mask: A sleep mask can block out light if your room does not permit blackout curtains. Although not as effective as blackout curtains, sleep masks are still a great way to block out light to the light receptors in our eyes, which can still detect light even if they are closed.
- No electronics: Keeping your electronics outside your bedroom at night will reduce your exposure to blue light.
- Use orange or red lights: If you need to use a light at night, consider using red or orange lights with the lowest luminance possible.
Keeping your bedroom dark during the night can help you sleep better and manage your blood sugar levels. It has been shown that sleep deprivation can cause a pre-diabetic state because our bodies react similarly to insulin resistance when in a sleep-deprived state.
If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep, keep your bedroom as dark as possible. It would be best if you weren’t exposed to light during sleeping time. Aside from the health benefits, such as maintaining good metabolic function, melatonin production and insulin levels, you may find that you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.
A Parting Reminder
Sleeping in darkness will improve your sleep, help with regulating your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism in check. So, if you can, make sure to keep your bedroom dark at night. You’ll be doing your health a huge favor!