Why You Shouldn’t Be Sleeping with the TV On

Do you wake up wondering how the muffin top popped up in the middle of the night? Late night TV may have something to do with your weight gain. Tune in to learn why you should tune out...

Relaxing to the laughs on Jimmy Kimmel or catching up on your DVR of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills may help you drift off to sleep, but if you leave the TV on all night, you could be doing real damage to your waistline.

Scientists at the National Institute of Health analyzed health and lifestyle data on 43,722 U.S. women aged 35 to 74 who enrolled in a larger study about risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases. While women who used a small nightlight were found to maintain their weight, those who dozed with light or television on were 17 percent more likely to have packed on 11 pounds over the course of the five-year period. The study results were recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The scientists speculated that the sleep hormone melatonin was suppressed when the artificial light from the TV disrupted the women’s circadian rhythms. Other factors may have played a role in the weight gain results, as well, though the study results were controlled for age, having an older spouse or children in the home, race, socioeconomic status, calories consumed, and physical activity. Check out these ways to naturally reset your circadian rhythms.

“Although poor sleep by itself was associated with obesity and weight gain, it did not explain the associations between exposure to artificial light while sleeping and weight,” said corresponding author Dale Sandler, PhD, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, in a press release. There are a number of sneaky things that make you gain weight.

“Unhealthy high-calorie diet and sedentary behaviors have been the most commonly cited factors to explain the continuing rise in obesity,” notes Lead author Yong-Moon (Mark) Park, M.D., PhD. “This study highlights the importance of artificial light at night and gives women who sleep with lights or the television on a way to improve their health.” Here are 50 more health secrets women older than 50 need to know.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Stacey Marcus
Freelance lifestyle and travel writer for over 20 top regional and national outlets including Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Northshore Magazine, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com , Southern Bride Magazine and others