Another reason to get up, get out of bed. There’s research from Northwestern University appearing in the journal PLOS ONE to support an intriguing new way to keep your weight in check; bright
morning sunlight. Turns out those who received most of their exposure to bright light in the morning had a far lower BMI (body mass index) than those who got their exposure to light later on in the day. In fact, the earlier the light exposure happened, the lower the subject’s BMI. And get this; the influence of morning light was not affected by physical activity, calorie intake, timing or sleep, age or even the season of the year.
The work included 54 subjects (28 women, 26 men), average age 30 years old who wore a wrist actigraphy monitor that kept track of their light exposure and sleep for 7 days under normal living conditions. Calorie intake was measured using a week of food logs completed by the participants.
This is the first study to show that the timing, intensity and length of exposure to light during the day is associated with weight. It brings to light the importance of so called “circadian health”. We know that many of us don’t get enough natural light during the day, mostly because our modern lifestyle is focused on being indoors. We also tend to work in poorly (artificially) lit places, where it’s hard to get the right amount of light to impact BMI.
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Surprising Way To Keep Off Pounds Continued…
Light is the natural way to synchronize your own internal body clock, regulate circadian rhythms and this in turn regulates energy balance according to Phyllis C. Zee, M.D., study senior author and a practicing neurologist who is also a professor of neurology and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program. Getting
more bright light, between the hours of 8:00 am and noon is key Zee believes,
and 20 to 30 minutes is all you need to impact your BMI. It’s how much light you get, when you get it, and for how long that appears to be most impactful. The sweet spot in terms of having a lower BMI appeared at an exposure to light of a brightness of 500 lux. Most workplaces are at 200-300 lux.
If you don’t get enough light at the right time of day it may well desynchronize your natural body clock. This alters metabolism (hunger and satiety as well) and can bring on weight gain. The exact mechanism of light and body fat needs further study, but this research certainly makes a start in that area.
The good news is that your own exposure to natural light is something within your control. Manipulating light may be the next frontier in terms of weight loss and perhaps good health in general; just as getting the right amount of quality sleep is today. Along with living a healthy lifestyle (eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress) exposure to natural sources of light may be a simple, natural way that we can impact our own health (perhaps weight), today and in the future.
To your good health,