Is light at night damaging your health?

You may be one of those people who leaves the landing light on at night, or possibly someone who regularly drifts off in front of the box, but scientists have warned today that even a low-level light left on come night time could be damaging your health.

Woman sleeping
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The study, by researchers from Ohio State University, found that a night-light may affect the structure of the brain and increase your chances of depression.

A number of previous studies have shown that disturbing the body's natural sleep-wake cycle can prove dangerous, with shift workers at higher risk of breast cancer and, most recently, light at night linked with weight gain.

This latest research exposed rodents to dim light during the eight hours in which they would usually sleep. Using a light equivalent to a switched on television in a darkened room, scientists found that the animals' behaviour was altered.

Offering sugared water to the hamsters, researchers found that those who had slept with the light showed a distinct lack of interest in the treat, a sign that their mood had been affected.

And further tests revealed differences in the structure of the hippocampus, an area of the brain.

Researcher Tracy Bedrosian said at a US conference: "The hippocampus plays a key role in depressive disorders, so finding changes there is significant. Even dim light at night is sufficient to provoke depressive behaviour."

Since absolute darkness is difficult to achieve in the modern world, the researchers say there could be serious implications for our mental health.

What do you think? Are you aware of low level light at night and has it affected your mood? Leave your comments below...