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The Bright Light From Your Smartphone Can Impact Your Metabolism

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We know that scrolling through our social media feeds first thing in the morning and right before we fall asleep probably isn't the best for us. But not only does it totally mess up a mindful start to your morning, the bright blue light emitted by your screen seriously screws with your sleep patterns at night. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, all that bright light exposure from your smartphone is messing with your body in other ways too. (See: Your Brain On Your iPhone.)

Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago set out to explore how bright light exposure affects our metabolism and whether the time of day we receive that exposure matters. (Did you know these 7 Weird Things Might Be Widening Your Waist?)

Building off of previous research that found people who received the most bright light in the morning weighed less than those who were exposed to most of their bright light in the afternoon, the researchers from Northwestern randomly assigned adult participants to either three hours of blue-enriched light exposure (like the kind that comes from your iPhone or computer screen) right after waking up or before they turned in for the evening.

In both conditions, the bright light (as opposed to dim light) altered the participants' metabolic function by increasing their insulin resistance, which ups your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (Psst... Watch out for 6 Ways Your Diet Is Messing with Your Metabolism.)

They also found that spending time with your screen before bed is a particularly bad move—evening exposure led to higher peak glucose levels (AKA blood sugar) than morning exposure. And over time, all that excess glucose can lead to excess body fat. So not worth those extra ten minutes spent on Twitter.

Your best bet to cull the waistline-expanding effects of the bright light waves is to do a little digital detox—wait until you get to the office to power on and make the hour before bedtime screen-free. If you can't fathom the idea of severing yourself from your screen, at least turn down the brightness or switch on a blue-light reducing feature like Night Shift. (And check out 3 Ways to Use Tech at Night—and Still Sleep Soundly.)

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