Want to lose weight? Switch off that night lamp.

Exercise, eating less all work. However, NSF discover files podcast states that light affects not only your sleep but also your metabolism.

A study at Ohio State University found some interesting correlations between the amount of light at night and weight gain in mice.

(Sound effect: mice) Several groups of mice were tested each with equal activity levels and identical amounts of food. The only difference was varying light conditions. The mice who had dim light at night for eight weeks grew 50% fatter than mice who had regular light-in-the-day, dark-at-night conditions.

A second experiment was conducted with one difference: instead of the mice being able to access their food anytime, the food was restricted to a mouse’s regular eating times. The result: no weight gain.

The study pointed to the times when the mice ate as the culprit in weight-gain. Although the dim-light-at-night mice didn’t eat more than others, they did change when they ate and that affected metabolism. The dim light could have disrupted levels of melatonin — a hormone that helps regulate metabolism. And it might have thrown off the mice’s genetic clocks — that control when they feed.

Light at night may contribute to weight gain in ways we don’t expect, and it may explain why people who have good energy levels and low caloric intake still seem to gain weight. It could be in the timing.

But I’m still not cutting back on these candlelight dinners.

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