I was walking down the hallway at work and saw a poster. Someone must have put it up outside their office. It said that falling asleep with the TV on reduces the bodies production of melatonin. So I looked it up and found an interesting article on Discovery.com.
What do you think? Do you sleep with the TV on? Is there a correlation?The research, which involved hamsters, adds to growing evidence in both animals and people that exposure to even dim lights at night can lead to all sorts of negative health consequences, including breast cancer, sleep disorders and weight gain.
To explain how light exposure at night might affect the moods of both hamsters and people, the researchers turn to a hormone called melatonin. Our bodies start churning out the hormone as soon as we sense darkness, and its influence is broad. Among other roles, melatonin acts as an antioxidant. It regulates our circadian rhythms. It helps us fall asleep, and it controls the release of other hormones.
With even a small amount of ambient light at night, the body might release the wrong amount of melatonin, or melatonin might get produced at the wrong time, leading to any number of problems, said neurologist Phyllis Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Program at Northwestern University in Chicago. Studies have already implicated problems in the melatonin system with mood disorders, diabetes and sleep disturbances.
"They're all somehow related," Zee said, "and perhaps melatonin helps explain why there is this very strong relationship between depression, sleep, and circadian rhythms, as well as obesity and metabolism."
"Light affects so many biological systems," she added. "Light is a very powerful drug for the brain."