Study: Light pollution may trigger insomnia

Research we're watching

Published: March, 2019

High exposure to bright, artificial outdoor lights during the night may result in sleepless nights for older adults. The more of this so-called light pollution that people were exposed to at night, the more they seemed to turn to medication to help them sleep, according to a study published in the Nov. 15, 2018, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. People in brightly lit areas, as judged by satellite data, also seemed to take those drugs for longer and took higher doses than people who weren't exposed to nighttime light.

To come to their conclusions, the researchers looked at data on more than 50,000 adults ages 60 or older from the National Health Insurance Service–National Sample Cohort, a database of information collected on people who participated in health screenings between 2002 and 2013 in South Korea. Researchers compared the people's nighttime light exposure and their use of two sleep drugs, zolpidem (Ambien) and triazolam (Halcion).

The study authors say the results seem to confirm that light pollution can impair health, and that public officials should focus on addressing this problem.

Image: © Stev Lin Shao-hua eLuker/Getty Images

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