Since Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879, human habits have been permanently transformed. With more than just candlelight to combat the darkness, people in the last 19th and early 20th centuries were able to continue daily activities long after the sun set. This ability has significantly evolved in the 21st century; it’s not just light bulbs that provide extra light at night now, but televisions, computers, tablets, cell phones, and ereaders as well. Going to bed when the sun sets and waking when the sun rises is virtually unheard of in modern society, but medical experts are starting to sound the alarms about the damaging effects of such excessive exposure to artificial light.
Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, explains that, “The more research we do, the more evidence we have that excess artificial light at night can have a profound, deleterious effect on many aspects of human health. It’s growing public health concern.” More than ever before, physicians and researchers are insisting that darkness at night is just as important to human health as a healthy diet and regular exercise. In fact, the U.S National Toxicology Program has a growing body of research that indicates that exposure to artificial light could be contributing to depression, cancer, heart disease, and weight gain.
Since light synchronizes human circadian rhythms and the retina of the eyes are designed to respond to short-wavelength light, bright light causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that induces drowsiness, and instead produce hormones like cortisol and ghrelin that trigger energy and hunger. The more that humans are “darkness deprived,” the less their bodies are synchronized to healthy and constructive rhythms. This is why excess light at night can be connected to weight gain, diabetes, and metabolic diseases.
The bottom line? Be sure to enjoy plenty of natural light during the day, but power down at night so that you minimize your exposure to artificial light and give your body the opportunity to replenish and refuel in the dark. For any bothersome health conditions you may be experiencing, perhaps as a result of darkness deprivation, visit American Family Care Urgent Care in St. Petersburg, Florida. AFC Urgent Care is able to treat any non-life threatening health problems during the extended hours of 8 AM to 8 PM, seven days a week. Call (727) 800-4121 to learn more.