Bright Lights, Bad Sleep: Light Pollution and Insomnia

Contributing Editor

The more exposure older adults had to artificial outdoor light at night — even from inside their homes — the worse their insomnia became, and the greater their use of hypnotic drugs to get those much needed Zzzs.

Researchers with South Korea’s Seoul National University College of Medicine found that light pollution — excessive use of artificial outdoor light — disrupts circadian rhythms and can potentially lead to metabolic and chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, depression, and obesity. And the more intense the light pollution, the more likely older adults were to use hypnotic drugs for longer periods or at higher daily dosages.

The study used data from the 2002-2013 National Healthy Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort, which comprised 52,027 adults who were 60 or older and had not been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Researchers advised public health officials to consider light pollution more frequently when assessing environmental pollutants and how they affect health.

Source: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine