A new study has found that exposure to any amount of light can disrupt sleep, which in turn increases the risk of serious health issues in older adults.
Senior author Phyllis Zee said that the research found a correlation between exposure to any amount of light during sleep and higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension in both older men and women.
She recommended that people do their best to avoid or minimize the amount of light they are exposed to during sleep.
Adults in their 20s
The research team examined the role of light in sleep for healthy adults in their 20s.
Sleeping for just one night with a dim light, like a TV set with the sound off, raises the blood sugar and heart rate of young people.
This increased heart rate is a risk factor for future heart disease and early death.
The higher blood sugar levels are a sign of insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
What to do
You can position your bed away from windows or using light-blocking curtains.
Don’t charge laptops and cellphones in your bedroom where melatonin-altering blue light can disrupt your sleep.
If you have to get up, keep the lights as dim as possible and on only for a short time.
However, this doesn’t apply to older adults since there is a risk of them falling if all lights are off.
In that case, nightlights might be a good idea, positioned very low to the ground.