Dimming your lights before bedtime can ‘reduce your risk of silent killer’


PREGNANT women should dim the lights before bedtime to reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes, experts say.

US researchers found pregnant women who are exposed to lots of artificial light in the three hours before sleep are more likely to develop the condition.

Exposure to light at night suppresses levels of a hormone called melatonin


Exposure to light at night suppresses levels of a hormone called melatoninCredit: Getty

Lead author of the study, Dr Minjee Kim, a neurologist at Northwestern University, said: “Light at night before bedtime may be linked to impaired glucose regulation in non-pregnant adults.”

The experts believe the exposure to light at night suppresses levels of a hormone called melatonin, disrupts the body’s internal clock, and impacts regulation of blood sugar levels.

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the condition affects at least four to five in 100 women during pregnancy.

If it is not well controlled it can lead to serious health problems for the baby, including death.

They tracked data of more than 700 women to see how light exposure before bed impacted their health.

Dr Minjee added: “Our study suggests that light exposure before bedtime may be an under-recognized yet easily modifiable risk factor of gestational diabetes.”

Bright light exposure before sleep can come from bright lights in your home and from devices like TVs, computers and smartphones.

“Try to reduce whatever light is in your environment in those three hours before you go to bed,” the expert said.

“It’s best not to use your computer or phone during this period. But if you have to use them, keep the screens as dim as possible,” she said, suggesting people use the night light option and turn off the blue light.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Other risk factors of gestational diabetes include being overweight, not being physically active, having polycystic ovary syndrome and having a family member with diabetes.

Previous studies have found children born to women with gestational diabetes are six times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and be overweight later in life.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes does not usually cause any symptoms.

Most cases are only discovered when your blood sugar levels are tested during screening for gestational diabetes.

Some women may develop symptoms if their blood sugar levels gets too high (hyperglycaemia), such as:

  • increased thirst
  • needing to pee more often than usual
  • a dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • blurred eyesight
  • genital itching or thrush

Source: NHS

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