How artificial lights can affect your risk for breast cancer, diabetes, depression, and more
Bright lights before bed can do more than disrupt your sleep—they may actually increase your risk for major diseases. Overexposure to artificial light at night could be tied to breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, and depression, according to a new paper from University of Connecticut cancer epidemiologists.
"It's become clear that typical lighting is affecting our physiology," said lead researcher Richard Stevens, Ph.D. in a press release. Not enough sunlight during the day combined with too much artificial light at night are very likely disrupting our natural wake/sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm. The risk of disease is really focused is on your p.m. light intake, he adds. And while his team’s study is not definitive, it does present the growing body of evidence in favor of these suspected long-term implications of lighting on our health.
So does that mean you have to ditch all tech after dark? That’s crazy talk—this is 2015, and not even scientists would ask you to go Amish by sunset. (Are You Too Attached to Your iPhone?) "It doesn't mean you have to turn all the lights off at 8 p.m. every night, it just means if you have a choice between an e-reader and a book, the book is less disruptive to your body clock,” he said. At night, the better, more circadian-friendly light is a dimmer option, he adds, which means that e-readers on low luminosity are even passable.
To ensure your light habits don’t increase your disease risk, follow these 3 Ways to Use Tech at Night—and Still Sleep Soundly.