Just an hour of phone or tablet screen time at night could lead to increased sugar consumption, according to researchers.
Artificial light has previously been linked with increased risks of type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, which is hypothesised to occur because it disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms.
The study involved exposing male rats to an hour of blue light in the evening, then measuring their food consumption and glucose tolerance the next day. The rats used in the study were diurnal, meaning they were awake during the day and asleep at night.
The next day the animals were given the option to choose out of nutritionally balanced food (standard rodent food), water, lard and sugar water. The researchers discovered that one hour of blue light was enough time for the rats to drink more sugar water at night compared to the nights they werent exposed to blue light.
The researchers explained that this association may exist because the retina is sensitive to the light omitted from devices and sends information to the part of the brain that controls appetite.
They say these findings suggest that humans using phones, tablets and laptops at night may be more prone to sugary snacks.
Lead study author Anayanci Masís-Vargas said: “Limiting the amount of time that we spend in front of screens at night is, for now, the best measure to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of blue light.
“In case it is necessary to be exposed to devices at night, I would recommend the use of apps and night mode features on the devices, which turn the screens more orange and less blue or the use of blue light filtering goggles that are already available in the market.”
The findings were unveiled at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) in the Netherlands.