The National Institutes of Health study published today isn't proof, but it bolsters evidence suggesting that too much exposure to light at night could pose health risks.
The research team gathered questionnaire data from 43,722 women who participated in the Sister Study, which examines the risk factors for diseases such as breast cancer.
Ashton suggests that women create a prime sleeping environment for themselves by using tools like eye masks and blackout shades or drapes.More news: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition comes to Switch this Winter
Poor sleep as a standalone factor has been proven to be associated with obesity and weight gain, but Dale Sandler, Ph.D. and a co-author of the research, said, "it does not explain the associations between artificial light exposure during sleep and weight gain".
This sleep study comes on the heels of another study that found irregular sleep patterns, including not going to bed and waking up at the same time each day or getting different amounts of sleep each night, can put people at a higher risk for obesity, heart disease, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders. "It is a medical necessity on par with our food and our fitness".
The study researchers found that women who reported exposure to light at night while sleeping were more likely to gain weight and become obese over almost six years, compared with women who were not exposed to light at night.
The authors acknowledge that other confounding factors could explain the associations between artificial light at night and weight gain. Those who reported sleeping at night in a room with a television on or a light were more likely to gain at least 11 pounds over about five years than those who slept in darkness.More news: 3m Sudan strikes bring country to standstill
"Our findings. suggest that lowering exposure to [artificial night at light] while sleeping may be a useful intervention for obesity prevention", researchers said.
When controlling for other characteristics that may be associated with increased artificial light exposure at night, like age, race, having an older spouse or children in the house, socioeconomic status, calorie consumption and physical activity, the researchers' findings did not change.
Lead author Yong-Moon (Mark) Park, M.D., Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in Sandler's group. He said the link between exposure to artificial light at night and obesity may not indicate that one causes the other.
About the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of the National Institutes of Health.More news: Wendy Williams tears up talking about estranged husband
"Unhealthy high-calorie diet and sedentary behaviors have been the most commonly cited factors to explain the continuing rise in obesity", Park said.