Posted on

Too Much Light at Night Linked to Obesity

Have you been steadily gaining weight despite the lack of changes to your eating habits or activity levels? Medical disorders and aging aside, exposure to excessive light at night may be the cause of your weight gain.

Recent findings in the US, UK, and Japan suggest that there may be a link between light at night (LAN) and obesity. Clinical studies with wide cross-sections of individuals revealed that high LAN exposure significantly corresponded with greater body mass index. Although there isn’t enough evidence to prove LAN is a direct cause of weight gain, there is enough to warrant further studies. Scientists plan to explore the following theories:

  1. Excessive exposure to artificial light from computers, televisions, cell phones, and other sources may interfere with your body’s internal clock and throw off your circadian rhythms. Since circadian rhythms affects hormones related to hunger and satiety, disruption could lead to unwanted weight gain.
  2. Too much LAN is thought to have a negative impact on melatonin production, which in turn could inhibit proper metabolism function. When metabolic processes are slowed, disturbed, or otherwise impeded, weight gain soon follows.

While there is no conclusive scientific evidence that fully supports the idea that LAN and BMI are causally linked, it wouldn’t hurt to sleep with little to no light in the room!

Posted on

Jet-Lagged: Now What?

You tried to adapt your schedule to sync up with your destination time zone several days before departure. You eschewed caffeine and alcohol on the flight in favor of water. You took melatonin to help reprogram your internal clock. In short, you did everything you were supposed to do in order to ward off jet lag — but to no avail. Your sleep is still disturbed, you’re unable to focus on anything, and you’re generally irritable and feeling “off.”

 

But just because jet lag has set in, that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to another unproductive business trip or wasted vacation. Instead, try the following tips to get back on track in a hurry:

Rest when you need to
Conventional wisdom says you should force yourself to stay awake if it’s daytime at your destination or force yourself to sleep if it’s nighttime. But this can be highly counterproductive, and may end up prolonging the symptoms of jet lag rather than alleviating them. Allow yourself short naps or other breaks to refresh and recharge as necessary.

Dont give up on assimilation
Even if you must take naps at odd times of the day or night, keep trying to assimilate to the local schedule as much as possible. This means eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at reasonable hours, and steadily shifting your bedtime and waking time until they align with your current timezone.

Get some sunshine
Natural light is critical to reestablishing your body’s circadian rhythm, so don’t immediately hole up in your hotel room once you arrive at your destination. If the sun is shining, go outside for a brisk walk or do some stretching or yoga at a nearby park to release tension, get your blood circulating, and reset your internal clock.

Use sleeping pills only as a last resort
The medical community classifies jet lag as a sleeping disorder, which is why it might be tempting to turn to over-the-counter or prescription drugs to ease the symptoms. But since Tylenol PM, Ambien, Xanax, and the like can produce unwanted side effects, they should be taken with caution only as a last resort.

Don’t let jet lag spell disaster for your next timezone-spanning trip. Just try these coping techniques to help your body get in sync with your new surroundings.