How late-night screen exposure makes you fat

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(NaturalNews) Electronics are powerful, and not just in regard to their speed and memory.

Televisions, computers and cellphones have powerful abilities capable of influencing behavior, swaying public opinion and according to one study, increasing your waistline.

Scientists found that "blue-enriched light exposure, compared with dim light exposure, was associated with an increase in hunger that began 15 minutes after light onset and was still present almost two hours after the meal."

They also found that, "Blue light exposure also decreased sleepiness and resulted in higher measures of insulin resistance," reported EurekAlert!

The research published in the journal Sleep, was conducted in the Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Research Laboratory at Northwestern University.

Discovering the effect three hours of exposure to blue-enriched light had on hunger and glucose metabolism was interesting, said study co-author Ivy Cheung, a doctoral candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

"These results are important because they suggest that manipulating environmental light exposure for humans may represent a novel approach of influencing food intake patterns and metabolism," said Dr. Cheung.

Could the next diet fab include altering light exposure? Maybe, but scientists say more research is needed.

The study included a group of 10 comprised of healthy adults with regular sleep and eating schedules. They each received identical carbohydrate-rich isocaloric meals and "completed a four-day protocol under dim light conditions, which involved exposure to less than 20 lux during 16 hours awake and less than 3 lux during eight hours of sleep."

On the third day, participants were subjected to three hours of 260 lux, blue-enriched light beginning 10.5 hours after waking up. The effects were then compared with dim light exposure on the second day.

How technology disrupts natural sleep patterns

Before the invention of smartphones, tablets and computers, human's sleep cycle was connected to nature, relying on natural light and darkness to indicate when to sleep and wake up. Today, however, the body's natural production of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal glad that helps us fall asleep, is most disrupted by blue-enriched light.

"Blue light is a part of the light spectrum that is especially visible during the day, making its appearance a cue to the body to wake up," stated a Natural News report from 2011.

"No matter how tired you are, your body may be limited in its production of melatonin if you are exposed to blue light. It follows, then, that avoiding blue light before going to bed is a great way to allow your body to produce the natural levels of melatonin that it needs to fall asleep."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine's report helps us understand that blue-enriched light not only makes it more difficult for us to sleep at night, but also effects our eating habits, encouraging us to pack on calories at the most undesirable time, right before bed.

Night time exposure to light has health risks

Several types of health complications have been linked to those exposed to light while working the night shift, including cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease and obesity, reported Harvard University.

Scientists suggest lower melatonin levels may be associated with cancer, and even dim light can affect cardiac rhythms and melatonin secretion. Harvard researches found that blue light suppresses melatonin more severely than other sources of nighttime light.

"The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)."

To avoid suppressed melatonin production and increased hunger, use dim red lights for night-lights, as they've been found to have the least power when it comes to shifting cardiac rhythms and possess no link to hunger increases.

Turn off electronics two or three hours before bed. If you absolutely need to check your email before bed, try wearing blue light-blocking glasses, for about $80 they can provide serious protection.

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