Avoiding computer and smartphone use before bed may reduce risk of diabetes

A Northwestern University study found that women who avoid looking at computer and phone screens before bed may be at lower risk of gestational diabetes.

Dr. Minjee Kim, an assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said the risks of light exposure from such devices are not well recognized.

“Our study suggests that light exposure before bedtime is a risk factor for gestational diabetes that may be easily modifiable,” said lead study author Dr. Kim.

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Reducing exposure to evening light from devices may improve maternal and offspring health. (Shutterstock)

“Gestational diabetes is known to increase obstetric complications and increase the risk of maternal diabetes, heart disease and dementia. Offspring are also more likely to be obese and hypertensive as they grow up.”

This is a complication that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born, but it carries significant risks for both mother and child.

Researchers found that women with gestational diabetes were almost 10 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to women who didn’t have glucose problems during pregnancy.

It is increasing rapidly worldwide and now accounts for nearly 8% of all births in the United States.

overstimulated nervous system

Kim et al. gave 741 women a wrist-worn device to measure their exposure to light during the second trimester of pregnancy, when they were routinely screened for gestational diabetes.

They found that the sympathetic nervous system became overactive when exposed to light before bedtime.

Anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, inability to relax, and indigestion can all be signs of an overstimulated nervous system.

“The fight-or-flight response seems to be inappropriately activated when it’s time to rest,” Kim said.

Sympathetic overactivity contributes to obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and high cholesterol, all of which lead to cardiovascular disease.

exposure exposure

Bright lights in the home and from devices such as televisions, computers, alarm clocks and smartphones should be avoided three hours before bedtime, Kim said.

“We don’t think about the potential harm of keeping the environment bright from the moment we wake up until we go to bed,” Kim said.

“But it should be pretty dim in the few hours before bed. You probably don’t need that much light for what you do on a daily basis in the evening.”

“But if you must use them, make sure the screen is as dark as possible,” Kim said, suggesting using the nightlight option to turn off the blue light.

man watching tv in bed at night
Exposure to light advances or delays circadian rhythms known as phase shifts. (Shutterstock)

Optimization of circadian rhythms

According to traditional Chinese medicine, synchronizing your daily activities with the light-dark cycle can regulate your circadian rhythm and influence vital functions of the body, such as digestion and body temperature.

However, signals from the environment also affect circadian rhythms.

This may explain why many studies have shown that nighttime light exposure causes a loss of the sleep hormone melatonin, weakening the immune system over time.

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Typical teenage circadian rhythm cycle. (NIGMS)

Disrupted circadian rhythm Link to Increased incidence of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular risk, obesity, mood disorders and age-related macular degeneration.

“Humans are genetically adapted to a natural environment of sunlight by day and darkness by night,” Chandra Jackson said in a 2019 National Institutes of Health article.

“Exposure to artificial light at night can alter hormones and other biological processes, increasing the risk of health conditions such as obesity.”

‘Diabetes is a sign of malnutrition’

Diabetes can also be prevented with a nutrient-rich diet, according to Dr. Joel Furman, a physician and internationally recognized expert in nutritional disease prevention and recovery.

“If a woman eats [in] A nutritious eating style can prevent the development of gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Fuhrman.

“Gestational diabetes is a sign of nutritional deficiencies. For gestational diabetes, the best medicine is no medicine.”

“Who knows the subtle and long-term effects of diabetes medications on the fetus? Good nutrition is the safest and most effective choice.”

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Eating healthy, losing weight and exercising can reduce your risk of diabetes, but turning off the lights may be a quicker and easier way to change your routine.

“Turning off the lights is an easy change you can make,” said Kim.

“Now I’m a light policeman at home. I see all this light that I never thought I would before. I try to keep the light as dim as possible.”

“Nighttime activities like dinner and bathing the kids don’t need bright lights.”

A study conducted by scientists at Northwestern University It was published In the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal Fetal Medicine on March 10, 2023.