Thursday, October 21, 2010

Light During Sleep Hinders Weight Loss Efforts

(Article first published as Light Exposure While Sleeping May Effect Body Weight on Technorati.)
The human body is acutely sensitive to all forms of stimulation we receive from the environment around us, and this can have a profound effect on how we metabolize and store body fat. In addition to our surroundings, the type of food we eat and the timing of when we eat affect our natural circadian rhythms that also impact our ability to lose weight. You can control many environmental and dietary factors to assist in your weight loss efforts.

Light at Night Affects Hormonal Balance
We are creatures of evolution, and rely on the function of hormones in our body to survive. Metabolism is controlled by a delicate balance that is influenced by environmental cues and gives us the ability to adapt to different stimuli. Melatonin is the hormone that our body uses to signal when we’re tired and when it’s time to wake up. Any light when we’re trying to sleep will disrupt the release of melatonin and affect our sleep. This in turn influences the way fat is metabolized overnight and can halt natural weight management.

Study Demonstrates Negative Effects of Light During Sleep
The results of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that by increasing the amount of light exposure during the overnight hours, changes in body mass could be measured after just a week. More importantly, it was noted that after 30 days of light exposure during sleep the test subjects were found to be glucose intolerant, a known risk factor for diabetes and weight gain. An author of the study performed at Ohio State University concluded, "Light at night is an environmental factor that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in ways that people don't expect".

Meal Timing Critical to Fat Metabolism
The timing and size of meals is important when considering a weight loss goal. Circadian rhythms are in control of our metabolic rate and change during the day to meet our energy needs. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that food eaten earlier in the day generated more energy than food eaten later in the day. This information provides evidence that our metabolic rate is much higher when we first rise and calories are used for energy to fuel our body. Larger meals eaten during evening hours are much more likely to be converted to stored body fat.

Use Darkness to Your Weight Loss Advantage
The results of this study as well as many others confirm that natural weight loss and maintenance is much more than simply reducing calories and exercising more. It’s important to control the environment around you as this influences the hormonal balance that improves fat metabolism. Be certain that your room is totally dark when sleeping. Cover any light sources such as alarm clocks, cell phones or cable boxes. Working with your body’s natural circadian rhythms and eating your largest meal earlier in the day will set the stage to achieve your weight loss objective.

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