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Don't fall asleep with the lights on

July 26, 2012
by Shannon Brys
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Although much research has been done as to what causes depression while people are awake, a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry suggests that one cause of depression could be sleeping in a room with dim lights. 

While most people turn out the lights when they sleep, many people fall asleep to the television. The research finds that even this dim light can cause changes to the brain, along with depressive symptoms.

In the study, hamsters that were exposed to dim light at night for four weeks showed signs of depression, such as reduced interest in drinking sugared water that they had previously enjoyed, compared with the control group.

Researchers suggested that to reduce the potential risk of depressive symptoms, people ought to turn off lights while sleeping and avoid late-night television watching or surfing on the internet.

According to the research abstract in Molecular Psychiatry, “Exposure to artificial light at night (LAN) has surged in prevalence during the past 50 years, coinciding with rising rates of depression.”

In a New York Daily Newsarticle, study researcher Tracy Bedrosian said, “The advent of electrical lighting permitted humans to stray from natural day-night cycles, which could potentially disrupt our biological rhythms.”