Smartphones’ Blue Light May Lead To Weight Gain As A Result Of Poor Sleep


You already know the blue light that emits from your smartphone disrupts production of the sleep hormone melatonin. And as research continues to strengthen the association between sleep deprivation and obesity, it was only a matter of time before a studyfound smartphones might make people fat, too. Yes, that time is now.

Scientists at the University of Granada in Spain injected rats with melatonin and found regulating this hormone helped to combat obesity and diabetes. Their animal research is similar to research being done at Manchester University, where the effects of regular sleep patterns are being monitored in patients with diabetes. Dr. Simon Kyle, a sleep researcher at the University’s School of Psychological Sciences and on the team at MU, said that while the work is ongoing, they’ve found a link between circadian patterns (a person’s internal clock) and disease.

“We are interested in how an alteration in the sleep-wake pattern may be involved in the onset of diabetes and obesity and if, when you improve the timing of sleep you can also have a positive effect on conditions like diabetes and obesity,” Kyle said in a press release.

The timing of sleep doesn’t only mean a regular, healthy dose of melatonin; it also means a regular, healthy dose of ghrelin and leptin, the hunger hormones. Without sleep, these hormones can be altered, skewing a person’s appetite and encouraging them to overconsume high-calorie foods. Consuming more of these increases risk for belly fat, which then increases risk for diabetes. It’s all one viciously hungry cycle.

Though, this isn’t the first time off-balance hormones and circadian patterns, orrhythms, have posed a threat to our health. Disrupted patterns (a result from when we miss the external signals and clues the sun is up or down) increases riskfor metabolic syndrome and fatty liver. Our body being able to tell when the sun is rising and setting, or when it’s time to wake-up versus sleep, keeps it on an even, healthy keel.

Yet, most people are in the habit of charging their phones, tablets, any other gadget of choice in their bedrooms, be it physically in bed (hey, no shame in maximizing your space) or nearby on a nightstand. Even if you made a point to turn off all devices a while before bed, the light from a late-night message or notification can still disrupt melatonin secretion, “and that could contribute to alterations in metabolism,” Kyle said.

A better idea is to charge your phone in another room. And, as always, sleep with as little light as possible. Pitch-black conditions reset your internal clock, helping you get up and eat at the right times.

People can be fat yet fit, research suggests.


People can be obese yet physically healthy and fit and at no greater risk of heart disease or cancer than normal weight people, say researchers.

The key is being “metabolically fit”, meaning no high blood pressure, cholesterol or raised blood sugar, and exercising, according to experts.

Looking at data from over 43,000 US people they found that being overweight per se did not pose a big health risk.

The results are published in the European Heart Journal.

In the study at the University of South Carolina, more than a third of the participants were obese.

Of these 18,500, half were assessed as metabolically healthy after a physical examination and lab tests.

This subset of metabolically healthy obese people who did not suffer from conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, were generally fitter and exercised more than the other obese people.

And their risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer was identical to people of ideal weight and was half that of “metabolically less fit” obese people.

These studies remind us that it is not always your weight that’s important, but where you carry fat and also how it affects your health and fitness”

Amy Thompson British Heart Foundation

Lead researcher Dr Francisco Ortega, who currently works at the University of Granada in Spain, said the findings show that getting more exercise can keep you healthier, even if you still carry a bit of extra weight.

“This research highlights once again the important role of physical fitness as a health marker.”

Most of the men and women in the study came from a similar background, meaning the results may not apply to everyone. They were mostly Caucasian, well educated, and worked in executive or professional positions.

Amy Thompson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “In the majority of cases, obesity is an undeniable risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. However, these studies remind us that it is not always your weight that’s important, but where you carry fat and also how it affects your health and fitness.

“It is particularly important to be aware of your weight if you are carrying excess fat around your middle. The fat cells here are really active, producing toxic substances that cause damage which can lead to heart disease.

“Maintaining a healthy diet with lots of physical activity can help to slim you down as well as reduce your risk of heart health problems.

“But don’t get too caught up on the numbers on the scale. Calculating your body mass index and measuring your waist are great ways to keep on track. If you are concerned about your weight and want to make changes to your lifestyle, make an appointment with your GP to talk it through.”

  • Source: BBC.