Long term exposure to bright indoor light between dusk and bedtime can increase the risk of diabetes. Such exposure can also lead to other health issues, including insomnia, depression, hypertension, inflammation, tumor cell growth and cancer. Such revelations can lead to new breakthroughs regarding increased health risks among late night shift workers.
Bright Artificial Light at Night Associated with Elevated Diabetes Risk
A research conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston revealed that exposure to bright artificial light before bedtime can disrupt the body’s melatonin balance, which can increase the risk for diabetes.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain during the night. It plays an important role in several body functions. Melatonin governs the sleep-wake cycle and affects the duration and quality of sleep. It regulates body temperature, blood pressure and glucose metabolism.
The research group headed by Joshua Gooley studied 116 healthy volunteers, aged between 18 and 30 years. An intravenous catheter was inserted into the arms of the participants. The participants were then exposed to either dim light or bright room light for 8 hours before bedtime consecutively for 5 days. The blood plasma of the participants was collected after every 30 to 60 minutes to check their melatonin levels.
It was observed that the duration of melatonin production was shortened by nearly 90 minutes due to exposure to bright room light as compared to dim light. Also, exposure to bright light during usual sleeping hours reduced melatonin by nearly 50%.
Given the fact that chronic light suppression of melatonin and melatonin receptor genes have been associated with type2 diabetes, the findings of the study can help to find effective solutions for the disease. However, the researchers said that further studies are required to understand the exact mechanism by which melatonin governs glucose metabolism.
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