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Lighten Up: Timing of Light Exposure Affects Weight

Sep. 14, 2015|371 views
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Here’s another handy tip to improve your weight loss/weight maintenance efforts. According to new research, exposing yourself to natural light early in the day can help influence your body’s ability to regulate appetite—and that could mean better weight control.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, exposing yourself to daylight early in the day—rather than later—has a positive impact on body mass index and body fat. While it seems odd to think that something as simple as exposure to light could have such an effect on something as seemingly unrelated as body weight, scientists are not surprised.

"These results emphasize the importance of getting the majority of your exposure to moderate or higher intensity light during the morning and provide further support that changes to environmental light exposure in humans may impact body weight regulation," said study co-author Ivy N. Cheung, a doctoral candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, in a press release. The work was presented at the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Investigators conducted a simple experiment, in which they outfitted volunteers with a device that measured their exposure to light throughout the day, for a week. Ultimately, researchers discovered that subjects who got most of their moderate or high intensity light exposure early in the morning tended to have lower body mass indexes, and lower body fat, than subjects who got more daylight exposure in the afternoon.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Mean light timing may influence body mass index, body fat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2015. .