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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Can Increased Light Make You Fat?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 20th 2010

light bulbWhat if our increased interaction with light at night increased our likelihood of getting fat? That’s the conclusion that Dr. Fonken and her team of researchers have come to in their report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found that mice who are persistently exposed to light at night show an increase in body weight, body fast and glucose intolerance (a cause of late onset diabetes). What does this mean for us?

While mice are nocturnal and humans diurnal, there is, believe it or not, many physiological similarities between mice and humans. So this research is suggestive that it could have the same effect on humans. Nutritionists have been saying forever that eating late at night is a big no no when it comes to losing weight or being healthy. There are also more obese people in America than ever before. So what if increasing light had an effect on our physical health?

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb quite a while ago, but advances in technology have continued to make the light brighter and brighter. Bulbs are soon coming out that will make our homes seem like it is daytime outside.

The increasing interaction we have with our digital gadgets pumps light into our eyes no matter where we are.

We can’t blame our national weight gain all on the lighting, but we certainly can understand that this may be a factor and become more mindful about the amount of bright electric lighting that is taken in.

At the very least we can consider that for many of us, the increased light also has an effect on our sleep. The more electric stimulation the eyes and brain have the more active it is likely to be later at night and this can affect our mind’s ability to be at rest.

Take a moment right now to consider when you take light in and how you might become more mindful of it for your mental and physical health. If you do have sleep problems or late night snacking, there may be an association here.  

Perhaps it’s worth the experiment to cut out the digital devices or lower the lights in the home as the night goes on and see how this affects your life.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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