Amanda L. Chan, a writer for the Huffington Post poses the question, it’s 1 a.m. but the next episode of “Orange Is The New Black” is calling your name. What’s so bad about one more hour of screen time, as long as you’re “resting” in bed?

Actually, it might mean a lot. Staying up late not only cuts the amount of sleep you get, but also exposes you to light at night that could have effects on your body more than you may realize.

The following is a portion of Chan’s recent blog…..

Light at night is discouraged because “the light suppresses a hormone that is supposed to tell the brain it’s time to sleep. And that hormone is melatonin,” Russell Rosenberg, PhD, director of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology, told WebMD. And “your sleep can be delayed because of the excitement of being involved with the computer and other devices.”

Late sleepers (people who go to sleep after midnight and wake up in the mid-to-late morning) not only sleep less than “normal sleepers” (people who fall asleep shortly before midnight, and get up around 8 a.m.), but also seem to consume more dinner calories than “normal sleepers,” Dr. Michael Breuss said in a 2012 Huffington Post blog post.

A review recently published in the journal Fertility and Sterility shows that light at night could impair women’s fertility because of its effect on the production of melatonin. Melatonin, which is a hormone, is vital to protecting women’s eggs from oxidative stress, LiveScience reported.

Research in animals published in 2012 in the journal Nature suggests the long exposures to light is associated with depression-like behaviors, as well as increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Of course, while the study was done in animals, it’s hard to say with certainty that the effects are the same in humans. But study researcher Samer Hattar, a biology professor at Johns Hopkins University, explained in a statement that “mice and humans are actually very much alike in many ways, and one is that they have these ipRGCs (intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which are activated by light) in their eyes, which affect them the same way. In addition, in this study, we make reference to previous studies on humans, which show that light does, indeed, impact the human brain’s limbic system. And the same pathways are in place in mice.”   7//27/14


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