Exposure to artificial lighting could not only be making us all ill but susceptible to diseases, according to a new study.
The research by a team at the Leiden University Medical Centre concluded that long periods spent in artificial lighting is detrimental to health and causes problems normally associated with ageing.
Published in the journal Current Biology, the study reveals that disruption of the normal light-dark cycle (provided by the natural environment) has far-reaching consequences.
In tests, mice were subjected to constant light for 24 hours for a period of months.
This exposure to artificial light resulted in pro-inflammatory activation of the immune system, muscle loss and early signs of osteoporosis – all signs of frailty normally shown in older humans and animals.
Johanna Meijer, lead author on the paper, said: “Our study shows the environmental light-dark cycle is important for our health.”
“We showed that the absence of environmental rhythms leads to severe disruption of a wide variety of health parameters.”
There is some good news though, the study also showed that these negative effects can be reversed with the light-dark cycle is reinstated.
Meijer says these findings should encourage people to think about how much exposure they are getting to natural light.
Particularly older people who are exposed to artificial light in nursing homes and intensive care units around the clock.